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Silent Running

Silent Running

4.1 7
Director: Douglas Trumbull

Cast: Bruce Dern, Cliff Potts, Ron Rifkin


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If they gave awards at the Oscars for digital film restorations, Silent Running would certainly have its name called out on the big night. The film looks marvelous, much better than it did in theaters and on VHS, and the image is so crisp and precise and the mono Dolby 2.0 sound so clear that its difficult to believe the movie is from the early '70s. The outer


If they gave awards at the Oscars for digital film restorations, Silent Running would certainly have its name called out on the big night. The film looks marvelous, much better than it did in theaters and on VHS, and the image is so crisp and precise and the mono Dolby 2.0 sound so clear that its difficult to believe the movie is from the early '70s. The outer space exterior shots are particularly impressive, with the space stations gliding across a black expanse of space that's actually cardboard dotted with speckles of white paint. That tidbit of info comes from director Douglas Trumbull's 30-minute interview "Silent Running," exclusive for this edition. Trumbull goes into minute detail about the production, casting, and set design. He nearly steals his own thunder as he repeats himself many times during the "feature commentary" that accompanies the movie, but he's got Bruce Dern sitting with him, who enlivens the conversation by bringing his own memories to the program. There's also a separate interview with Dern that's of interest, as is a separate bit about Trumbull's other accomplishments, such as developing a large-format projection system and his development of cinematic techniques for 3-D theme park rides. A dated documentary called "The Making of Silent Running" is only worthwhile for die-hard cultist, but they've probably seen it elsewhere by now. The main attraction here is the superb restoration; first-time viewers will think they're watching a new movie.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Blending science fiction with hippiedom, Silent Running (1971) is very much of its early '70s moment, even as its cautions about the environment remain timely. In his directorial debut, Douglas Trumbull skillfully integrates his premier special effects into a story about the glory, beauty, and fragility of nature, as Bruce Dern's long-haired, robe-clad ecologist stakes his life and space station on defending the last remaining ecosystem from a corporate edict to destroy it and use the ship for commerce. Bonding with anthropomorphized androids and tending his space-bound Eden to the strains of Joan Baez songs, Dern's Lowell is a testament to the need for free thought, green living, and firm convictions, no matter the cost. Trumbull's juxtaposition of adorable animals and lush plants with the soulless ship and astronauts carrying them speaks to the devastating effects of complacency. One of a cluster of early '70s dystopian science fiction films that began with Trumbull and with Stanley Kubrick's masterwork 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Silent Running's vistas and message still attract fans.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Universal Studios
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
[Dolby Digital Mono]
Sales rank:

Special Features

The making of "Silent Running"; Feature commentary with director Douglas Trumbull and cast member Bruce Dern; "Silent Running" by Douglas Trumbull; A conversation with Bruce Dern; "Douglas Trumbull: Then and Now"; Theatrical trailer; Production notes; Cast and filmmakers

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bruce Dern Lowell
Cliff Potts Wolf
Ron Rifkin Barker
Jesse Vint Keenan
Mark Persons Drone
Steve Brown Drone
Peter Schickele Conductor

Technical Credits
Douglas Trumbull Director,Producer,Special Effects
Vernon Archer Special Effects
Brad Aronson Asst. Director
Steven Bochco Screenwriter
Michael Cimino Screenwriter
Dick Dawson Makeup
John Dykstra Special Effects
Michael Gruskoff Producer
Richard Helmer Special Effects
R.L. Helmer Special Effects
Marty Hornstein Associate Producer
Marlin Jones Special Effects
Charles D. Knight Sound/Sound Designer
Diane Lampert Songwriter
Frank Lombardo Set Decoration/Design
Richard Portman Sound/Sound Designer
James Rugg Special Effects
Peter Schickele Score Composer,Songwriter
Aaron Stell Editor
Deric Washburn Screenwriter
Charles Wheeler Cinematographer
Richard Yuricich Special Effects

Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Main Titles [1:41]
2. A World in Space [6:27]
3. Waiting For a Transmission [3:17]
4. Bad News [3:43]
5. Nature's Greatest Gift [3:56]
6. Safe Distancing [4:13]
7. Setting the Bombs [4:06]
8. Lowell's Mutiny [4:55]
9. Stalling For Time [2:40]
10. Emergency [2:48]
11. A Drone Doctor [7:49]
12. The Rings of Saturn [7:47]
13. Huey & Dewey [3:40]
14. Back to Normal [7:12]
15. Poker With the Boys [8:32]
16. Huey's Accident [3:57]
17. The Forest is Dying [2:30]
18. The Solution [2:48]
19. Lowell's Choice [5:14]
20. Dewey's Forest (End Titles) [2:10]


Customer Reviews

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Silent Running 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
AlchemystAZ More than 1 year ago
Marvelous! A triumph of fantasy and allegory, with beauty and fine music. Watchable several times.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Bruce Dern gives a moving performance as Botanist Freeman Lowell in this sci-fi masterpiece. Aside from the robots Huey and Dewey, who sometimes act more 'human' than Dern's character, the film raises an ethical question of whether someone should take the innocent life of another for one's own convictions and beliefs. For that reason, the movie is relevant today in the post-911 world as it was in 1971. A must see for anyone, not just sci-fi fans.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a nice well meaning movie about what could happen in the future. They have ships in space, a sort of floating habitat. Large domes that house plants and animals. When the government decides to destroy the domes, one man takes matters into his own hands. This movie seems to be a series of pasted on scenes. They don't always blend together properly and some don't fit at all. It's still worth seeing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A.D. 2008-Eight years before the United States undertakes a botanical preservation project that will refoliate the totally industrialized planet in the near future. Unfortunately, when Congress votes to end funding for the project, Botanist Freeman Lowell(Bruce Dern), revolts. This is just the beginning of an adventure with a sad and timely message that should be brought to more public attention and acted upon before it's too late. Regrettably, no one takes the ''reductio ad absurdum'' storyline as seriously as it should be even though the environmental catastrophe of global warming is already starting to be witnessed in the world of A.D. 2000. While chock full of many science and technology errors, ''Silent Running'' has a message that needs to be stated again and again until people listen and DO what they need to do. Otherwise, the world in 2008 and beyond will be a nightmare with no waking up. Do you really want to tell your grandchildren something like, ''Once there was air you couldn't see.''? Think about it.
ChandlerSwain More than 1 year ago
After the triumph of "2001: A Space Odyssey", special effects supervisor Douglas Trumbull created eerie effects for Robert Wise's "The Andromeda Strain" and then directed "Silent Running" a small-scale science-fiction film that unfolds as if it were a fable, and since it's release has grown in popularity, not the least reason for it's enviromentally challenging theme. In the future, the Earth has been defoliated of all plant life and the remaining specimens are placed in a series of geodesic domes which are then attached to a fleet of freighters orbiting about space waiting for the signal to return home. One shipmate Lowell, is a fanatical botonist who communicates better with his robotic drones named Huey, Dewey and Louie than he does with his human compatriots whom he finds less than concerned about the vegetative cargo. When the return signal arrives, to Lowell's horror, it is not to return the plants to Earth but to jettison them into space and scrap the mission. Drastic actions are taken by him that leave him alone on the ship with his drones and his ship now a fugitive vessel. As Lowell, Bruce Dern turns in a star making performance in what is very much practically a one-man show,(though mention should be made of the fine contributions of actors Ron Rifkin, Jesse Vint and Cliff Potts despite the brevity of their appearances, we do feel their loss) and Trumbull's effects make it clear that "2001" was no accident. (Ironically, the sole Oscar awarded to "2001", for special effects, was selfishly hoarded by director Stanley Kubrick who claimed solo possession of the trophy.)Still, there are major problems with the film, all of them on the conceptual end with the script. Science-fiction is a genre of infinite possibilities (though you wouldn't know it by the increasingly, prolifically stupid "Star Wars" series), but serious science-fiction must adhere to infallible logic of which the scenario of "Silent Running" is in short supply. Why, for instance,is the ship running about Saturn except that Trumball, in the intervening time since "2001" found a way to effectively create the rings? And wouldn't a completely defoliated planet run out of not only food but oxygen? And wouldn't it be easier to preserve seeds of the plants than sending the trees floating about space? And why when pursued does Lowell find it neccesary to run through the rings of Saturn when it doesn't help him elude his pursuers? And why would it take an expert on plant biology so long to deduce a simple problem that is harming the plants? Still, there is an infectious charm to the film, a quality that is new to the genre, and despite initial impressions, this charm is generated by far more than the presence of the delightful anthropomorphic drones, winningly designed and cleverly portrayed by real-life amputees. Dern's Lowell may be a fanatic and by the end may even be a bit nuts, from both guilt and solitude, but he is warm and winning, one of the few memorable human characters in a genre that has generated surprisingly few. The film ends on a note of slight illogic but simultaneously it is also one of the most emotionally charged, heartbreaking scenes in the history of cinema. Indeed, science-fiction is a genre of infinite possibilities.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Set in the far future aboard the spaceship ''Valley Forge'', Bruce Dern and three fellow astronauts maintain the huge vessel and the forests that it contains with the help of three ingeniously rendered robots. The robots are so convincing that they steal the show, but they remain classic depictions that are on par with Robby from ''Forbidden Planet'' and the droids of ''Star Wars''. This is a sad story with a strong ecological message, ''Silent Running'' is a visual treat with outstanding special effects and a very realistically-depicted ''Valley Forge'' spaceship. A production note: Trumbull had use of the decommissioned naval aircraft carrier ''Valley Forge'' before it was scrapped and he was able to modify many of it's vast interiors for use in the movie, all to good effect.