It is so easy to dismiss Logan's Run as fluffy kitsch. Especially since it had the bad luck to be released a year before Star Wars. But ultimately, it is Logan's Run that has more weighty subjects in one scene than all of Star Wars. The reason this is missed by so many viewers is because the early special effects, the miniatures especially, were amazing for the time. Plus it was filled with scantily clad attractive young male and female actors. The film definitely uses eye candy to hide its difficult nature.
Among its subjects are social engineering, population control, communal living, the fetishization of youth, heterosexuality/homosexuality, euthanasia, child rearing (especially the lack of it). But its most prevalent message is a society without love and relationships. The inhabitants of this film's world are the equivalent of Harlow's terry cloth/wire mother surrogate raised monkeys. These people are without compassion, love and barely know how to create relationships outside of releasing sexual impulses. And the computer running this society encourages this maladaptive behavior. The ultimate expression of this isolated, ill socialized society is called the carousel. Although the characters think the participants will be reincarnated, they are really watching their fellow citizens be systematically mass murdered. It still stands as one of the creepiest scenes in modern sci-fi. The movie also strongly implies that it covers up socialization problems of the people, due to lack of mother nurturing, with drugs.
The film's society shows very little work ethic among the people. The only working people we see are the Sandman, the men who dispose of dead runners, a secretary and a doctor. We don't know how they are paid. It seems as if resources are pooled together and everyone is given a portion due to their place in this world. Judging by the film, Logan is part of the elite and he seems to own a large private apartment. Do the lesser citizens sleep in communal dorms?
As the film progresses it focuses on the relationships of three characters: Logan, Francis and Jessica. Although I never caught on before due to being very young when I first saw the film, the movie equates homosexuality and heterosexuality. Although most people argue it is against homosexuality and deems it maladaptive, I don't see the film this way. If anything it is very encompassing in its acceptance of sexuality. Logan's one night stand machine accepts all participants male and female. It indicates he has had affairs with both sexes. I doubt if he has had any romantic notions about any of his partners. His work partner, Francis, seems more advanced in this area. In that he places great worth in his friendship with Logan. He recognizes a deeper connection with his friend, even if he has no clear idea of the extent of it. Jessica is the first person that Logan has any interest in other than sex. In fact it is clear that he wants her to be his willing partner. This is different because later in the film Jessica indicates that Sandman can take anyone they want. It seems that Logan experiences love without even knowing what it is or why. But clearly, Francis knows because he has already been feeling this about Logan. As he follows Logan and Jessica's interactions during their "run", it becomes clearer to him. This is why he reacts with such frenzy at the end. The problems we are seeing on screen are entirely due to a society that doesn't accept or encourage love. It isn't against a Logan/Francis affair. It is against the fact that Francis was not allowed to express love towards Logan. The connection between Jessica and Logan was entirely unplanned and strengthened by the hardships they experience together. But during the last fight between Francis and Logan, I believe Logan finally understands his friend, himself, what he feels for Jessica AND what he felt for Francis. The Logan we see at the end, strengthened by love, is the one who is able to destroy the computer that runs everything.
Although stuck in crazy 70's decor, the film is more relevant now than at the time it was released. As a society, we mirror the world of this film more than we would like to admit. We live in a society that fetishizes youth, celebrates illusory sexual experiences and denigrates relationship connections between partners of any sexuality. This also reveals that we are part of social engineering projects just as much as the people of this fictional world.
Labels: commentary, culture, movies