Sunday, July 26, 2009

Obama's Health Care -- Soylent Green

As elements of the Obama health plan begin to surface from behind closed doors it is becoming increasing obvious the group that will suffer most under this new socialized government mandated plan is the senior citizen. Obama has a way of throwing people under the bus, people who cross him, groups who didn't vote for him. So guess what all you old people out there your group didn't vote for Obama, maybe you did, but your group you old people didn't fall into line and now, now you are going to get yours under the new health plan. Lets call it "Obama's Green Health Plan" even better and more truthful let us call this "Obama's Soylent Green Health Plan". For those who are not familiar with the term "Soylent Green" I've given a detail account below taken from "Wikipedia". This may seen like science fiction to some, but think about the current proposed plan and what its logical conclusion will be wrapped in Obama's radical environmentalsim. You old people use up most of the nations vital health services now--you all are getting old and your body parts are wearing out and getting more and more expensive to replace and since the government is now taking over the Health businss we can no longer tolerate this. Something has to be done and since you old people didn't vote for Obama, well you are the first to go. Cuts have to be made. And just think if we could hasten your end we could save even more, so next we need to establish a state program to encourage "euthanasia"--an easy step for liberals. And if enough of you old people don't voluteer for this program then let us provide incentives for the old folks to jump on the "euthanasia bandwagon". Promise to give the grand kids something, perhaps a college education---old people love those grand kids and will literally do anything for them. So now what to do with the millions and millions who have now decided to help their country and their grandchildern and become the new "greatest generation". Enter the most green of all green industries, the new and top secret "NSGC" The National Soylent Green Corportation. Harvesting a vast untapped new source of food, food to feed the hungry masses, food than can be exported to all parts of a starving world. Food that will provide revenue to paydown the national debt. This is the time, this is the true final solution, this is Obama Health Care at its best, this is "The Age of Soylent Green."

Soylent Green is a 1973 dystopian science fiction movie depicting a future in which overpopulation leads to depleted resources, which in turn leads to widespread unemployment and poverty. Real fruit, vegetables, and meat are rare, commodities are expensive, and much of the population survives on processed food rations, including "soylent green" wafers.

The film overlays the science fiction and police procedural genres as it depicts the efforts of New York City police detective Robert Thorn (Charlton Heston) and elderly police researcher Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson) to investigate the brutal murder of a wealthy businessman named William R. Simonson (Joseph Cotten). Thorn and Roth uncover clues which suggest that it is more than simply a bungled burglary.

The film, which is loosely based upon the 1966 science fiction novel Make Room! Make Room!, by Harry Harrison, won the Nebula Award for Best Dramatic Presentation and the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film in 1973.

Set in the year 2022, Soylent Green depicts a dystopian future in which the population has grown to forty million in New York City alone. Most housing is dilapidated and overcrowded, and the impoverished homeless fill the streets and line the fire escapes and stairways of buildings. Food as we know it today–including fruit, vegetables, and meat–is a rare and expensive commodity. Half of the world's population survives on processed rations produced by the massive Soylent Corporation (Portmanteau from soy(bean) + lent(il)), including Soylent Red and Soylent Yellow, which are advertised as "high-energy vegetable concentrates". The newest product is Soylent Green - a small green wafer which is advertised as being produced from "high-energy plankton". It is much more nutritious and palatable than the red and yellow varieties, but it is—like most other food—in short supply, which often leads to riots.

Processed "Soylent Green" ration wafersRobert Thorn (Charlton Heston) is a New York City police detective who lives in a dilapidated, cramped one-room apartment with his aged partner Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson). Roth is a former professor who searches through the now-disordered remnants of written records and books to help Thorn's investigations. Roth and his like are known as "books". He tells Thorn about the times before the ecological disaster and population crisis, when real food was plentiful, although Thorn is generally not interested in the "stories".

Thorn is assigned to investigate the murder of William R. Simonson (Joseph Cotten). When he goes to the crime scene, he finds Simonson lying in a pool of blood from being struck multiple times in the back of the head. Instead of looking for clues, the poorly-paid detective helps himself to some of the wealthy man's food, liquor, soap, and books. He also questions Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young), an attractive 24-year old prostitute (euphemistically known as "furniture") who comes with the luxury apartment, and Simonson's bodyguard, Tab Fielding (Chuck Connors), who claims that he was told to escort Shirl on a shopping trip when the attack took place.

Returning to his apartment, he gives Roth two large books he took from Simonson's apartment, the two-volume Soylent Oceanographic Survey Report, 2015 to 2019. Thorn returns to work and talks to the Chief of Detectives, telling him that he suspects it may have been an assassination, since nothing was stolen from the apartment and the murder seemed professional. He finds it odd that the luxury apartment's sophisticated alarm and monitoring electronics happened to be inoperative on the night of the murder, and his bodyguard just happened to be out of the apartment at the time.

After Thorn questions Fielding's live-in "furniture", he realizes she was eating from a "$150 a jar" of strawberry jam, which is an out-of-place luxury for the prostitute of a bodyguard. He returns to his own apartment to eat a meal of the purloined food, where Roth tells him that Simonson was a member of the board of directors of the Soylent Corporation, one of the most powerful corporations in the world. Thorn then returns to question Shirl, who tells him that Simonson had become deeply troubled in the days before his death, even taking her to church. Thorn later attempts to question the priest about Simonson's confession, but the priest is almost catatonic with exhaustion and does not reveal anything. Fielding later murders the priest to ensure he never talks. After Thorn begins to uncover evidence on why Simonson was murdered, New York Governor Santini (Whit Bissell) instructs Thorn's superior officer, Lieutenant Hatcher (Brock Peters), to close the investigation. However, Thorn refuses, and continues his investigation into the murder. Later, when Thorn is on riot duty during the distribution of rations, Simonson's murderer fires several shots at Thorn, wounding him, but Thorn is able to push his attacker under a riot control vehicle, a "scoop".

In the meantime, Roth examines oceanographic reports (that Thorn took from Simonson's apartment) with other intellectuals at the "supreme exchange," a library of old books. The other books convince Roth of a "horrible" truth, which despite reading it for himself he finds almost impossible to believe. The "books" intend to use the overwhelming evidence against the Soylent Corporation and to prove what Soylent is doing before taking it to the Council of Nations. Unable to live with what he has uncovered, Roth opts for assisted suicide or active, voluntary euthanasia (euphemistically known as "going home") at a government clinic. There, he is taken to a comfortable bed, is given a poison-laced beverage, and is shown panoramic views of an unspoiled pristine Earth as he dies. As Roth is viewing this, Thorn (who has since read a note from Roth that he is "going home") forces the staff to allow him to see and talk to Roth. He thus sees the earth as it once was for the first time. Overwhelmed at seeing what is for him such wondrous natural beauty, he is moved to tears. During Roth's final moments, he begs Thorn to prove the horrible truth about "Simonson... Soylent."

After Roth dies, Thorn sneaks into the basement of the government-assisted suicide facility, where he sees corpses being loaded onto waste disposal trucks. He secretly hitches a ride on one of the trucks, which is driven to a heavily guarded waste disposal plant. Once inside the plant, Thorn sees how the corpses are processed into Soylent Green wafers. After Thorn escapes from the plant and heads for the supreme exchange with the information, he is ambushed by Fielding and several other gunmen. In the shootout, Thorn kills some of the gunmen, but is himself wounded. He retreats into a cathedral filled with homeless people. After a desperate fight, Thorn stabs and kills Fielding.

When police backup arrives, the seriously wounded and nearly hysterical Thorn confides to Hatcher the horrible secret behind Soylent Green and urges him to spread the word: "Soylent Green is people! We've got to stop them somehow!"

The screenplay was based on the 1966 Harrison novel Make Room! Make Room!, which is set in the year 1999 with the theme of overpopulation and overuse of resources leading to increasing poverty, food shortages, and social disorder as the next millennium approaches. While the book refers to "soylent steaks", it makes no reference to "Soylent Green", the processed food rations depicted in the film. The book's title was not used for the movie since it might have confused audiences into thinking it was a big-screen version of Make Room for Daddy.[1]

The director Richard Fleischer, who began by shooting film noir thrillers after World War II, learned to do special effects in the 1950s and 1960s when he did a number of Science Fiction films such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Fantastic Voyage (1966). In the years before and after Soylent Green, Fleischer did films centering on famous serial killers and capital punishment (1968's The Boston Strangler and 1971's 10 Rillington Place) and the controversial and provocative Che Guevara biopic Che! (1969).

This was the 101st and last movie in which Edward G. Robinson appeared. He died from cancer twelve days after the shooting was done, on January 26, 1973. Heston was the only member of the crew that Robinson told (just before filming the scene of Robinson's character's death).

Robinson had previously worked with Heston in The Ten Commandments (1956). The female lead character, Shirl (Leigh Taylor-Young), is briefly seen playing a Computer Space arcade game, an early depiction of continual video game pop culture obsession.

In the film, after the aged Roth learns the truth about Soylent Green, he decides he can no longer deal with the world, and states that he is "going home". By this, he means that he is going to sign up for government-assisted suicide. When Roth arrives at the clinic, he is asked to select a lighting scheme and a type of music for the death chamber. Roth selects orange-hued lights and "light Classical" music. When he goes to the death chamber, a selection of Classical music plays through speakers and films are projected on large screens.

The "going home" score in this part of the film was conducted by Gerald Fried and consists of the main themes from Symphony No. 6 ("Pathétique") by Tchaikovsky; Symphony No. 6 ("Pastoral") by Beethoven; "Morning Mood" and "Åse's Death" from the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg. As the music plays, scenes of majestic natural beauty are projected on film screens: "deer in woods, trees and leaves, sunsets beside the sea, birds flying overhead, rolling streams, mountains, fish and coral, sheep and horses, and lots and lots of flowers — from daffodils to dogwoods". Amidst the music and the scenes of nature, Roth remembers the world as it once was. Yet, he cannot peacefully take his last breath as he is pained by the beauty lost and cannot stand the awfulness of the real world. Roth struggles to tell Thorn about the secret of "soylent green," urging him to "prove it" before taking his dying breath.

In the film, police detective Thorn is a "prophet of doom" who learns of the "most horrifying results" of the overpopulation and environmental disaster. In addition to being a prophet, "Thorn is a pioneer, a tragic hero willing to speak up and resist homogenizing forces as an individual." In the film's depiction of corporate corruption and police complicity in the cover-up, Thorn's "morality transcends all those around him" as he becomes the "sole voice of reason" as he "stands alone". After Thorn learns of the use of human bodies to make food, his main concern is with the future implications: that the Soylent food company will eventually "raise humans like cattle." After Thorn is shot by Soylent Corporation gunmen, he appears to be mortally wounded, and so his warnings about the horrors he witnessed in the Soylent plant "seem to be his last", making him a classic "tragic hero."[2]

In the film, Thorn's assistant Roth "serves as the reminder of better times." The aged researcher, a former professor, tells Thorn about the past, when "'real' food was plentiful and the natural environment thrived." Real food is a symbol of the past; as a result, when Thorn investigates the murder of Simonson, a Soylent board of directors member, Thorn takes "lettuce, tomatoes, apples, celery, onions, and even beef" from the wealthy man's luxury apartment. These rare and expensive luxuries were out of reach for all but the most powerful members of the society. When Thorn shows Roth the red filet of beef, Roth weeps at his realization of how much society has lost due to pollution and overpopulation. Now that most humans subsist on processed ration wafers, when Roth sees the "real" food, he asks “How did we come to this?”[2]

After Roth discovers that Soylent wafers are made from human flesh, and decides to end the horror by signing up for government-assisted suicide, he is shown a montage of beautiful natural images in the death chamber: flowers, deer, mountains, and rivers. When Thorn rushes to the active, voluntary euthanasia clinic to try to stop Roth, he is too late to save his friend, but he is able to share Roth's final moments. In Roth's last minutes alive, "Thorn shares Sol’s nostalgic moment" as Sol asks “Can you see it?” and “Isn’t it beautiful?”, which helps Thorn to realize "what he and the rest of the world has lost."[2] film reviewer Tamara Hladik calls the film a “basic, cautionary tale of what could become of humanity physically and spiritually" if humans do not take care of the planet. She points out that “[t]here is little in this film that has not been seen” in other films, such as the film's depiction of “faceless, oppressive crowds; sheep mentality; the corrosion of the soul, of imagination, [and] of collective memory.” While she notes that the director has a " overuse Charlton Heston” in scenes depicting this beleaguered, futuristic dystopia, she admits that the film “often succeeds despite [the missteps of] its director".

Hladik argues that the “most powerful moments do not belong to Heston['s]" police detective character Thorn, whom she calls a “dubious, ambiguous hero”. Instead, she calls Robinson’s characterization of the aged police researcher Sol Roth the “most moving passages” which give the film “conscience and soul.” She acknowledges that the film has “imagery [that] is powerful and haunting”, such as the scenes in which riot control vehicles scoop up protesters with metal shovels, as if they were garbage. Her overall impression is that “the profundity of humanity's transformation [in the film] is dealt with in less than a masterful manner. Wikipedia
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