Two citizens of a twenty-third century automated welfare state reveal the lie on which their static society is based, and so destroy it. [ Logan’s Run: Dir: Michael Anderson/ Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Peter Ustinov/ 120 min/ SciFi-Fantasy, Action-Adventure/ Democide]
There is nothing more dangerous to the authoritarian state than independent thinkers, and the future state imagined in this film hunts them down with a vengeance. In some cases, it doesn’t even let them inside in the first place: in one scene a ragged little girl explains that she has been denied entry because she is deemed too intelligent.
By so rendering the population dull and uncritical, and in other ways, the state here perpetuates a pre-programmed static society in which everyone is scheduled to die at thirty, via a ceremonial device that executes while giving the victim an appearance of rising as if to heaven. Most are persuaded to submit to such execution because they have been told that death equals “renewal” and because everyone else is going along with it. But some resist, and these people must be hunted down and killed.
Enter Michael York—an enforcer who inadvertently discovers that life after thirty is not only possible, but rewarding and potentially more meaningful than callow youth—and the society is soon undone.
Interestingly, this society was established, according to a brief note in the beginning of the film, as a response to war, overpopulation, and pollution—problems with which academics were particularly preoccupied in the 1970s, when this film was released. The solution that it represents is not far from what some authoritarian eggheads actually proposed at the time: the zero-growth economy, the cutoff of medical care at a certain age, limits on childbirth, etc. We should be thankful that not every half-baked idea makes it into law.
Logan’s Run is an imaginative and sometimes exciting story, marked by memorable performances by Michael York and Peter Ustinov. Although not up to modern standards in terms of special effects, some of the then path-breaking detail is still very impressive.