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Soylent Green – Tackling Overpopulation


Soylent Green is a 1973 American science fiction film directed by Richard Fleicher and starring Charlton Heston based on Harry Harrisson’s novel  – “Make room !! Make room !!”


The film’s opening montages of the previous 100-ish years of mass industrialization ,pollution and overcrowding has left the world depleted, dying, and deserted.

Once again Charlton Heston is in a gloomy dystopian movie “Planet of the apes” style.

It depicts the investigation into the murder of a wealthy businessman in a dystopian future ( 2022…not so far away ) suffering from pollution, overpopulation, depleted resources, poverty, dying oceans, and a hot climate due to the greenhouse effects( sounds familiar?).

Much of the population survives on processed food rations, including “soylent green” a green cracker said to be containing ”high-energy plankton”. With 40 million people in New York city alone, housing is dilapidated and overcrowded; homeless people fill the streets and food is scarce.

The scene showed above is the result of an illegal black market ”shopping” done by Charlton Heston’s character (”middly” corrupt policeman), allowing him to bring home a treasure made of an invaluable piece of red meat, a real lettuce and a few apples that his flatmate religiously prepared for dinner.

At the end of the scene, the little old man cries out ”How did we let that happend ?”.

Another interested scene is set in the middle of the movie when Heston’s character brings out the lie of a concubine (referred to as “furniture” in the movie !) by finding a teaspoon of strawberry jam in her apartment…. Too great a luxury for a concubine, he then decided to beat to a pulp the poor creature to see if some truth could get out.( the mastication technique – refined.)

The cop discovers later that the soylent greens are , in fact, made out of human corpses , not from seaweed as written on the box. The oceans are so totally dead at that time that not even plankton have survived.

The last shot shows a deadly injured Heston shouting his lungs out :”- Soylent green is people!”.

Not really a cheerful kind of movie indeed…. better go for the Muppet Christmas Carols if you are searching for something to light up your December mood, but a very interesting and accurate dystopian , for sure.

I saw the movie years ago and it did made a strong impression on me ( I was maybe 13 when I saw it).

It still is one of my favorite dystopian movies, not just cause of the great 5 first minutes and soundtrack. 

But because it is about overpopulation and the food issue as the main topic , not so many movies went there to my knowledge. ( If you know other please let me know ! )


Overpopulation and how to feed all those mouths , how to face this exponential population growth? How are we going to feed everybody. Scary and disturbing questions.
China importing food from South America to feed his people, the disappointment of the green ”GMO ”revolution, the depletion of drinking water resources.
That let me perplexed.
When I switched to veganism, I read some comforting ideas that such a diet could be a solution to feed all of us, one of the argument was that it takes up to 13 pounds of grains to produce just 1 pound of meat

Or that you need 200 times more water to produce the same weight of beef, than potatoes.

You save more water by not eating a pound of meat than you do by not showering for six months…damn – professor David Pimentel ” Ecological Integrity: Integrating Environment, Conservation and Health ”Island Press, Washington DC, 2001.
This information about animal waste and animal food pollution etc. made me think that , well, we might have a solution !
Let’s all turn vegan ( me first , cause I am a good fellow and I do feel so by following Ghandhi’s words about embodying the change I wanted to see) and we will be clearing world famines and getting rid of most of our Anxiolytic (and we even might lose some unecessary pounds of fat and forget about obesity and Heart Bypass Surgery).

If the solution was so simple ( going vegan is , indeed quite simple and not as painful as it seems, except if you’re french.) Why is there not a enormous loud voice speaking above all the other in all the worldwide congress to urge the population to change diet ?
Why no one political party dares to push even just a innocent vegetarianism as a part of his program and electoral promises ?
Why veganism seemed to be a curse in a the mouths of elite and politician’s ?

Obviously I must have been to naive , or omit some important data in my optimistic and romantic and swift conclusions.
Or maybe the solution is just to simple to be accepted.
Big Money’s the reason then???..
Off course not, we are not living in a world where profit and economic interest takes over the health ,future and well being of people…aren’t we ?
Then it should be because of cheese and meat’s taste, and the addiction to it, the sensation of wealth and security, superiority even that it gives to the well fed populations of wealthy nations .
Might be..or not.
Well, it seems like I have food for thought at least, luckily the time of the dystopian movie was only set in 2022, so that allows us to enjoy our soylent green , free from humans product for almost a decade.
Enjoy and bon appétit!!

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