back to a foreboding movie


After man has used up all the Earth’s natural resources, he finds himself without trees, streams, oceans or animals… A kind of open-air dump overcrowded with people. Under perpetual scorching heat, they congregate in basements, sometimes hidden or under awnings, that look uncannily like those of our suburbs. But no.

At the end of this long intro sequence, which links shots at high speed, a message appears: “New York 2022: 40 million inhabitants”. And it’s very disturbing. It’s hard to say otherwise after seeing it Green Soylent (The Green Sun), a film by Richard Fleischer released in 1973, is so prescient almost fifty years later. That is why it would be a shame to miss its reproduction, followed by Jean-Christophe Klotz’s documentary dedicated to him, even if the title (Green sun, red alert: When Hollywood sounded the alarm) is oversold – it was Richard Fleischer, not Hollywood, who was sounding the alarm.

We would like to know a little more about this director, son of Max Fleischer (creator of Popeye and Betty Boop) and director of, among others, The faceless killer (1949), 20,000 leagues under the sea (1954), Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970). The documentarian has preferred to find his son Mark Fleischer, who shows the denunciation of social fracture and the allegory of the cannibalism of capitalism, present in his father’s progressive fiction.

The sequences dedicated to the actors are the most interesting. Starting with Charlton Heston (who played the hero of The Green Sun Richard Thorn), then crowned with his success in The Ten Commandments (1956): the speakers rehabilitate him, asserting that we should not carry the image of the old actor suffering from Alzheimer’s who leads the NRA (American gun lobby), but those, little known and shown here, of the one who prepares the march. for African-American rights in 1963.

Excess consumerism

Actress Leigh Taylor-Young, her partner, becomes funny and playful by evoking anecdotes from the shoot, while she points out that in literature they called her “Meuble”, women are considered there as furniture and not as human beings. Edward G. Robinson, then 79, played Sol, Thorn’s librarian and friend, but above all the living memory of a bygone era whose beauty will emerge only after his death, during a scene that it has become iconic.

Read also: Richard Fleischer, American director

When Green Soylent appeared in cinemas, the American counterculture denouncing the excesses of consumerism, two years after the organization of the first Earth Day. In a report to the Club of Rome in 1972, “The Limits to Growth,” economist Dennis Meadows first exposed the physical limits to growth.

No more than that of the Club of Rome does the message of the film not really get across. “Richard Fleisher (…) is an ecological moralist of the sort: “Look what will happen to you if you are not good to the trees.” Everything is simple to naive souls; what’s less is succeeding in a film about the future that isn’t simplistic.”writes Colette Godard in world on June 29, 1974.

In 2012, Dennis Meadows republished the same report, with the same conclusions. In front of the camera, the editor of the film’s famous opening sequence does not hide a certain pride: “It stands. It has not aged. It is collective suicide. »

Green sun, red alert: When Hollywood sounded the alarmby Jean-Christophe Klotz (Fr., 2022, 52 min).

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