Logan's Run (1976)
May 5, 2018 3:35 PM - Subscribe

An idyllic sci-fi future has one major drawback: life must end at the age of 30.

Roger Ebert: "Logan's Run" is a vast, silly extravaganza that delivers a certain amount of fun, once it stops taking itself seriously. That happens about an hour into the film, but even the first half isn't bad if you're a fan (as I am) of special effects and cities of the future and ray guns and monorails whizzing overhead. The movie was made on a very large budget - the figure $9 million has been whispered about Hollywood - and it looks it. "2001" it's not, but it has class. The plot is fairly routine stuff, by science-fiction standards; It seems to be a cross between Arthur C. Clarke's "The City and the Stars" and elements of "Planet of the Apes" (1968).

NYTimes: Just why and for what particular purpose Logan makes his run is anything but clear after you've sat through nearly two hours of this stuff. “Logan's Run” is less interested in logic than in gadgets and spectacle, but these are sometimes jazzily effective and even poetic. Had more attention been paid to the screenplay, the movie might have been a stunner.

Empire: Despite being set in a far-flung future, Michael Anderson’s chirpy and appealing science fiction thriller can’t escape its ‘70s origins. There is something in the future gazing of that era, all the glittery, monochrome sets and jumpsuits that defines contemporary obsessions rather than notions of future possibility. Hence, time has done it no favours, the details of its computer run society quaint and silly in the aftermath of the internet. Yet, it still has spirit and energy, a compelling central idea and Jenny Agutter in a miniskirt. So, what if the effects are clunky, this is memorable enough hokum.


Re-Viewed: Logan's Run changed sci-fi blockbusters forever

Logan's Run: Everything You Didn't Know About The '70s Sci-Fi Classic
posted by MoonOrb (15 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Protein from the Sea indeed.
posted by gryftir at 5:09 PM on May 5, 2018

NYTimes: Just why and for what particular purpose Logan makes his run is anything but clear after you've sat through nearly two hours of this stuff.

Because if you don't want to die at 30 unless reborn in the fiery ritual of carrousel, running is your only option. Otherwise the Sandmen will get you. Run runner!
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:26 PM on May 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

About the best thing that I can really say about this movie is that it's better than the book, which had the "Lastday" at 21 and was based on the premise that the baby boom would go on forever. (The authors would later write a snippy letter to Starlog after David Gerrold, who wrote a column for the magazine, dismissed the novel.) The movie was OK, a bit nicer-looking than most of the dystopian SF shows of the time, but still had that underpinning dreariness of 70s movie/TV SF that only Star Wars would cure.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:24 PM on May 5, 2018 [1 favorite]

Nifty that Ebert was familiar with Clarke's The City and the Stars.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:17 PM on May 5, 2018

Just why and for what particular purpose Logan makes his run is anything but clear after you've sat through nearly two hours of this stuff.

Not much worse than a reviewer who can't be bothered to watch the movie. The computer that runs the city wanted to know more about this Sanctuary that the runners at least thought they were running to. It summoned a sandman who was 28 or 29 and was jaded and cynical enough to make a good subject, jiggered his hand-dingus to steal his last bit of legal life, and turned him loose, correctly predicting that this motherfucker wanted to live.

The movie took some pains to explain this as it went. I get that the reviewer might have been too bored to follow, but I do think it's incumbent on a reviewer not to make claims that verge on being objectively false.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:05 PM on May 5, 2018 [9 favorites]

This is one I think would do well with a modern, longer format reboot. One of the failings of the film is that so many threads are woefully unexplored. To be expected in a two hour movie, but what we end up with is a threadbare story in a world that doesn't feel very fleshed out. The elements are there, they just seem to pop up without explanation, a pity because they they scream for more detailed revelation.

More interesting to me is the look of the future, as per glitzy 1976 interpretation. It's amusing today in its dated-ness. But I love how things get interpreted according to what the future looks like at the time when these kinds of movies are made. Mega-mall-by-Epcot architecture, feathered hair and revealingly gendered fashions, casual sex and nihilistic hedonism must have been interpreted at the time as modern, extrapolate these things into future even moreso. It's an interesting flash of creativity, yet at the same time, a sad failure of creativity that looks embarrassingly stuck in 1976. I think this characteristic is shared with other sci fi movies around that era such as A Clockwork Orange and The Final Programme.

As noted many times, the effects were eye catching at the time, before 1977's big blockbuster completely rewrote the standard for how special effects get done. Some of the aesthetic flourishes I think excel. The stylized calavera Carousel outfits are stunning. Box steals the scenes with all that bling. The world outside the dome was like ruin porn before places like Detroit and Havana made decay cool. Jenny Agutter looked lovely as ever, and Farrah Fawcett looks... like the Farrah Fawcett we all remember. Richard Jordan does the maniacally driven guy he did so well.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:29 AM on May 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

I swear I remember a story about the stage lights having to be cranked up so high while they were filming the domed city miniature that the models either almost caught fire or almost melted, but my google-fu is failing me right now and I can't find a link.

Also, the working model of the sandman pistol was rather elaborately constructed. (Or at least it seems so to me; I admit I don't often research movie props and how they're put together.) Reportedly, there were a lot of retakes needed when the gun would misfire during a scene.
posted by radwolf76 at 4:57 AM on May 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

For the ascension scenes they built the large ever flying hoist that rotated.
posted by sammyo at 5:49 AM on May 6, 2018

I think nothing quite so encapsulates the dated 70s future-ness of this as the fact that the city scenes were shot in a mall in Texas.

Also, in the final crowd scene look for the extra raising his hand in a Vulcan salute before suddenly yanking it down. I've always wondered if he just got scared or if someone actually caught him. But it made it into the final cut.
posted by Naberius at 7:15 AM on May 6, 2018 [5 favorites]

Logan's run predicted Tinder.
posted by Sebmojo at 3:20 PM on May 6, 2018 [10 favorites]

A couple weeks before my thirtieth birthday, I threw a party with a screening of Logan's Run. Refreshments included sea greens (nori snacks) and protein from the sea (sushi). Nobody over thirty was invited.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:04 PM on May 6, 2018 [7 favorites]

It's an interesting flash of creativity, yet at the same time, a sad failure of creativity that looks embarrassingly stuck in 1976.

If you can consider that, consider how dated the current SF is going to look in about 40 years. New Battlestar Galactica is basically the 1990s in space, and people are going to be looking at the Expanse and muttering "Why is that guy wearing an MRA hat? It's like seeing someone where a tricorn during The Final Countdown."
posted by happyroach at 11:40 PM on May 6, 2018

Nobody over thirty was invited.

You should have had one old guy show up late with a bunch of cats.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:03 AM on May 7, 2018 [8 favorites]

Yeah, nobody called me...
posted by Naberius at 6:46 AM on May 7, 2018 [2 favorites]

Logan's run predicted Tinder.

This kind of made me think that things might get pretty brutal after the city services break down. I wonder how their contraception worked, are they all sterile with babies made in the mechanised breeding and nurseries? Is contraception in their food? My read is that they might not even associate sex with procreation. Is their medicine largely mechanised too, as with the face changing.
posted by biffa at 7:07 AM on May 9, 2018

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