Bruce Dern is the unstable space gardener who along with his three callous crewmembers and three robot pals (named Huey, Louie, and Dewey) mans a spaceship that contains the last remaining environmental habitat left in the universe. When the crew receives orders to blow up the domed botanical enclosure and return home, Dern snaps, kills the crew and hijacks the ship. He soon finds out that being marooned in space with three robots isn’t nearly as much fun as it is on Mystery Science Theater 3000, so he blows himself up.
If Silent Running has a message, I’m not sure what it’s supposed to be. Is it pro-tree hugger or anti-tree hugger? I mean are the filmmakers trying to say that a tree’s life is more important than a man’s? Or are they saying that all tree-huggers are crazy and eventually self destruct?
The early scenes hold a lot of promise. Dern is fantastic, especially when he chides the other crewmembers for not eating organic food. However once Dern is flying solo with the cute little robots (who were all played by multiple amputees) things slow down to a crawl and get downright boring. Like Dern, you’ll be suffering from space madness long before the end credits.
The special effects by director Douglas Trumbull are incredible.
Unfortunately in the future, people still listen to Joan Baez. Her constant folksy warbling on the soundtrack will drive you positively bat shit insane and will make you wish that Dern blew up his CD collection before blowing up his crew.