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Fresh as harvest day.”0

While notable for its pioneering visual effects, Michael Anderson's 1976 Logan’s Run has been relatively neglected as a result of its defiantly clumsy scriptwriting and remarkably bad plotting. After the film’s release, several attempts were made to build a franchise from William F. Nolan’s and George Clayton Johnston’s co-authored 1967 novel, but none of these projects was very long-lived. Given the release of George Lucas’s Star Wars and the subsequent mainstreaming of science fiction film not quite a year later, Logan’s Run has not well weathered the test of time. Watching Logan's Run today reveals the strong influence the film has had on cinematic dystopias such as those depicted in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and Alex Proya’s Dark City as well as how much it draws upon classics of the genre such as George Lucas’s THX 1138 and Franklin J. Schaffer’s Planet of the Apes. Logan's Run also provides several excellent snapshots of American hedonism during the late 1970s.

For example, the ritual of Carrousel not only recalls the Roman Colosseum as well as modern-day sports events, but it also visually alludes to 1970s discotheques such as La Discothéque (Paris), Studio 54 (New York), and, notably, The Sanctuary (New York), a gay disco whose cinematic namesake is a mythical haven where people may live past the age of 30.

The scene excerpted below marks the film’s halfway point. It is an important moment of transition, as it precedes Logan 5’s and Jessica 6’s first exposure to the world outside the domed city and moves Logan 5 and Jessica 6 toward their eventual roles as truth sayers who liberate the gullible citizens of the domed city.

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Here, Logan 5 and Jessica 6 meet Box, resident and keeper of what Logan 5 and Jessica 6 believe is a “link to Sanctuary.” Box greets his guests with “Welcome, humans! I am ready for you,” a greeting whose conventionality is undercut by the threat that he is “ready for [them]”. Box continues with an apparent non sequitur—“Fish, plankton, seagreens, and protein from the sea, fresh as harvest day!”—that dispels the threat of his greeting because it suggests that the cybernetic Box is either badly malfunctioning or cognitively impaired. It is no accident that Box’s hypnotic recital of pelagic foodstuffs resembles 1970s New Agey ideas regarding ecologically sustainable aquaculture. Indeed, Box’s Ice Cave—with its frozen walrus, penguins, and terns—combines then contemporary fears about the onset of a new ice age with popular mythology regarding the lost city of Atlantis which the world of Logan’s Run, with its domes, partly resembles. Box rounds out his nonsensical patter with psuedo-poetry: “Wait for the winds, then my birds sing! And the deep grottoes whisper my name, ‘Box . . . Box . . Box . . .’.”

Pressed regarding the whereabouts of previous runners seeking Sanctuary, Box reveals his unintentionally diabolical cybernetic genius. This is the crisis point of the scene and the turning point of the movie because it reveals that the machines which serve humans are deranged and dangerous, even when they are not malicious. Box freezes transient humans not out of ill will but because he is following “[r]egular storage procedure, the same as [for] the other food.”

Another way of looking at it is that Box uses reductive machine logic when he equates humans with other organisms such as seaweed, fish, and seabirds. It is fitting that a machine considers all organic entities as “food,” which is excactly what he does when explaining that “[t]he other food stopped coming, and they [the humans] started.” The results of Box's logic are (wait for it) chilling and drive him to freeze the humans who encounter him. The quest to escape the domed city where no one is allowed to live past the age of thirty leads humans to a fish freezer.

With his jerky mechanical gestures writ large on the silver screen, Box might call to mind iconic stop-motion animated mascots of the prepared food industry such as Poppin’ Fresh and Speedy Alka-Seltzer. In particular, Box’s stout form and near-silent gliding across the ice cave’s floor suggest an eerie combination of Mrs. Butterworth and the Gorton Fisherman, especially at the moment he heartily booms, “It's all here. Ready! Fresh as harvest day.” This processed food theme is emphasized by the wall of frozen humans that Logan 5 and Jessica 6 pass.1 The wall of translucent cells visually anticipates not only the “endless fields” in The Matrix “where humans are no longer born; [they] are grown”; it also thematically recalls the moment Detective Robert Thorn learns that “Soylent Green is people!”

In this scene from Michael Anderson’s 1976 Logan’s Run, an equivalence is made between the processed food industry, religions that purport a blessed afterlife, theories of environmental sustainability, human reliance upon machines, and cannibalism. The statement is as incoherent as it is disturbing. On another level, the bloodlessness of Box’s “regular storage procedure” in some ways resembles the mindless execution of Jews by Nazi bureaucrats, an idea Box himself makes explicit when he rhetorically ejaculates, “It’s my job!” end of article


0 A big shout out to Mandy O. who tested this entry while it was still in beta.

1 The wall also recalls somewhat dimly Maya Lin’s Vietnam War Memorial, the suggestion being that the Vietnam War processed tens of thousands of people like so much food.


Brazil. Dir. Terry Gilliam. Universal, 1985.

Dark City. Dir. Alex Proyas. New Line, 1998.

Logan’s Run. Dir. Michael Anderson. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1976.

The Matrix. Dir. Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski. Warner, 1999.

Planet of the Apes. Dir. Franklin J. Schaffner. Twentieth Century Fox, 1999.

Soylent Green. Dir. Richard Fleischer. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1973.

Star Wars. Dir. George Lucas. Twentieth Century Fox, 1977.

THX 1138. Dir. George Lucas. Warner, 1971.



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