STARRING: Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Peter Ustinov, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Roscoe Lee Browne

1976, 120 Minutes, Directed by: Michael Anderson

Description: Set in the year 2274, when ecological disaster has driven civilization to the protection of domed cities, the story revolves around a society that holds a ceremonial death ritual for all citizens who reach the age of 30. In a diseaseless city where free sex is encouraged and old age is virtually unknown, Logan (Michael York) is a "sandman," one who enforces this radical method of population control (but he's about to turn 30 and he doesn't want to die). Escaping from the domed city via a network of underground passages, Logan is joined by another "runner" named Jessica (Jenny Agutter), while his former sandman partner (Richard Jordan) is determined to terminate Logan's rebellion.

One doesn't always realize how much Star Wars has changed movie-making unless one happens to see films like Logan's Run.

Made in 1976 (i.e., a year before Star Wars) Logan's Run represented the state-of-the-art special effects of its time. (It actually received an Oscar for it.) However, today the special effects look cheap and the 1970s fashions achingly embarrassing. Unlike Star Wars, Logan's Run aged badly. But that doesn't make it a bad movie. In fact, it is more sci-fi than most of the efforts that get foisted upon us nowadays.

"What the future was thought to be like back in the 1970s . . ."

Nowadays, sci-fi movies are little else than action movies dressed up with a thin futuristic veil. Logan's Run goes for the "chase movie" option about halfway through the movie (also incidentally its weakest half, especially for modern audiences weaned on action extravaganzas like Terminator 2 - Judgment and The Rock).

In the first half an interesting future is depicted: a domed city in the 23rd century which is a virtual utopia. Unending pleasure, an utterly controlled environment, etc. Nobody grows old either - but that is the catch: everybody has to go for "renewal" (i.e., die) at the age of 30.

Obviously not everybody is too enchanted with this idea and so-called "runners" often try to flee the city for a place called "Sanctuary." These runners are pursued by futuristic policemen called "Sandmen". When a sandman named Logan Five (played by Michael York) decides to run, he and an accomplice (Jenny Agutter in a very skimpy outfit) discovers the truth about what is "outside" and about Sanctuary.

Based on a novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, Logan's Run later on inspired a short television series of the same name. (Which for budgetary reasons I suppose choose to focus on events during their time on the outside rather than on events directly after the movie - that is if my memory serves me correctly.)

Despite some dreary bits, Logan's Run isn't bad sci-fi and is an interesting exercise in what the future was thought to be like back in the 1970s: all high-tech and sanitized with clean and efficient energy, not the grungy dystopian futures depicted in films of the 1980s like Blade Runner and its ilk. Back then people still believed in a glitzier and better future . . .



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