Silent Running

I felt a brief earthquake which frightened me for a moment. I looked down at my watch, and it said 6:49. I went over to the office and was told that the elevators were out of order. During work, people asked me about Mark McGwire Bobblehead Day and the Aretha Franklin concert. After I was done with my shift, I went over to Safeway. I went home to rest and watch the DVD of “Silent Running.” It was a classic science fiction movie starring Bruce Dern and directed by Douglas Trumbull. Dern is Freeman Lowell, keeper of the last trees from Earth. He and a crew are on the spaceship called the Valley Forge, and they’re given orders to destroy the geodesic domes and return home. Freeman hijacks the ship and heads to the rings of Saturn. He has three drones aboard to help him. At the beginning of the film, Freeman has arguments about the need to preserve nature with the other crew members. What’s scary is that the apathy rings true when you think about China and their air pollution as an example. The forest was evidence that human beings didn’t create everything, and that was the future. The movie makes you think about what you would do in the same situation. Would you kill other people to save the last genuine bit of Earth? What helps Freeman make up his mind is that the others are all jerks. The drones can’t speak, even though technology like Siri would indicate that it’s possible. The silence, though, adds to the lonely, isolated atmosphere that is so effective. Freeman programs the drones to operate on his leg, to maintain the dome, and to play poker. You’d think that in the future, he’d have a machine to create the programs easily, but it looks like a laborious process with a soldering iron. The technology of the future is always off in science fiction movies. The computers and monitors have a 70s look. I kept thinking that we shouldn’t be able to hear explosions in space. The special effects still looked pretty good after all these years. I’ll always remember the American Airlines logo on the ship. It seemed right to hear Joan Baez singing a couple of songs on the soundtrack, although the combination of her and science fiction seemed odd. When you think about it, not very much happens in the movie. I wonder how a young audience would react. It takes half of the running time for anything to happen. Freeman appear to lose focus and a bit of his sanity. I didn’t think that he liked poker enough to work on the program. A big mistake in the story is the dilemma of the dying forest at the end. Even a child would at least consider the possibility that a lack of sunlight was the problem. The ending is haunting. I read that the original ending was different, with Freeman coming into contact with aliens. You had to wonder how long the drone and the lights could go on inside that dome. It wouldn’t be able to continue forever. I wondered what happened to the third drone, and whether it could have contacted another ship. In fact, I wondered if the drones weren’t working against Freeman, rather like HAL in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” I think this movie has more emotional impact on the young, and its pace feels slow when you see it as an older person, but it’s still a great film. It’s something you don’t forget. I didn’t watch all of the special features, but I did see the parts about Bruce Dern and Douglas Trumbull. I’d like to know more about Douglas Trumbull’s career. He should have done more films. He did work on a Back to the Future ride at Universal Studios. He wanted it to be taken seriously as a piece of interactive cinema. Bruce Dern was in “Coming Home” and “Nebraska,” but I’ll always remember him for “Silent Running.” I took a walk out to the library and bought items from CVS and Dollar Tree. When I got home, I watched “Carousel” with Gordon MacRae and Shirley Jones. It was an unusual musical with the bad marriage and the death of a principal character. There was a bit of “Our Town” in it. Two of the featured songs were “If I Loved You” and “You’ll Never Walk Alone.” It wasn’t one of my favorite musicals. Shirley Jones certainly looked young. I think I might have liked her best in “The Music Man,” as far as her musicals went. I fell asleep before the eleven o’clock news and awoke to see a Banacek episode about a vanishing race horse. I had to believe that the jockey had to be in on the caper. I don’t know how the thieves thought that they would get away with it. I’m not sure if the series could have gone on much longer than it did. I thought the plot were getting predictable. The Night Gallery episode called “Little Girl Lost” had William Windom in it. The second episode was “Die Now, Pay Later” with Will Geer and Slim Pickens. The third episode was “Dead Weight” with Jack Albertson and Bobby Darin. The Alfred Hitchcock Hour was a story called “Final Performance,” and Franchot Tone and Sharon Farrell were in it. The opening moments were disturbing, with a small town sheriff arresting a driver passing through. The malts in the diner were 20 cents. One of the characters was a television writer. The girl who said she wanted to get to Hollywood had yet to turn eighteen. I received an e-mail about Warriors tickets going on sale on the 19th. I probably won’t be able to see the Cavaliers on Christmas Day. A lot of people will be looking forward to this season. They look to have a good chance to return to the finals. Some of the people who died on August 18 include Honoré de Balzac (1850), Anita Loos (1981), John Sturges (1992), Elmer Bernstein (2004), and Scott McKenzie (2012). Today is a birthday for Denis Leary (58), Robert Redford (79), and Roman Polanski (82). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for August 18, The Police performed their first concert as a trio at Rebecca’s club in Birmingham, England in 1977. In 1993, “Manhattan Murder Mystery” was released. In 2004, Elmer Bernstein, composer of scores for movies such as “The Magnificent Seven” and “The Great Escape” died of cancer at age 82 at his home in Ojai, California. In 2006, “Snakes on a Plane,” starring Samuel L. Jackson, was released in the United States.

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