Logan’s Run

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Logan's Run movie poster

Logan’s Run movie poster

Logan’s Run, 36 years later

I must’ve been 12 when I saw Logan’s Run for the first time, in a theatre in Winnipeg; it may even have been my birthday. Besides being a glorious slice-of-’70s sci-fi cheese (though I didn’t know it at the time), the 1976 movie jump-started my adolescence.

Movie trailer – Logan’s Run (1976)

Logan’s Run (1976 version; a remake is rumoured to be in the works, although that’s been said for the last 10 years) starred Michael York as Logan, a Sandman suddenly forced to decide if he’s going to carry out his state-directed orders to kill “runners” (anyone who reaches the age of 30 and decides not to opt-in to a very suspect system of rebirth that includes either being exploded from within or zapped by some lethal death-ray, it’s never clear which) or run himself. Veteran British actor Peter Ustinov gives the only remotely naturalistic peformance within a parsec of the film; Farrah Fawcett makes a brief and green-spangly appearance as Holly, a cosmetic surgeon’s assistant. And Jenny Agutter plays Logan’s love interest and fellow runner, Jessica 6.

Jenny Agutter in Logan's Run (1976)

Jenny Agutter in Logan’s Run (1976).

It’s the film’s mild nudity, and the icy English rose beauty of Agutter (also in American Werewolf in London and Walkabout) that was responsible for my quantum leap. But the movie also casts a spell, even today. Even though what, to a 12-year-old boy in the ’70s, was an action-packed futuristic and really cool-looking movie is, by today’s standards, low-rent, retro and sometimes silly, Logan’s Run does have a certain look and production design that gives the film an atmosphere unlike just about any other.

Michael York and Jenny Agutter Logan's Run production still.

Michael York and Jenny Agutter Logan’s Run production still.

There are plotholes (like, why does Logan call the rest of his fellow Sandmen when he’s already decided to run?) and cheesy special effects galore, but the movie is also daring in letting its hero be an anti-hero – a coldblooded killer – for a good chunk of the story.

And 36 years later, the idea of a society so brainwashed as to accept their fate – death at 30 – is still thought-provoking. How different is that from the mass hysteria that greeted the death of Kim Jong-Il? How different from Mormonism, or any belief system we’ve inculcated? How different from our acceptance of Stephen Harper as prime minister (okay, the last might be a bit of a reach… might).

Logan’s Run, which was based on a novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson, had an even more radical premise – death at 21 – and a far different ending. The novel spawned a couple of sequels; Logan’s Run the movie led to a TV series (the DVD of which is about to be released) and a comic book series (from Marvel, 7 issues), as well as inspiring lots of bad electronica (or maybe that’s redundancy). A remake would be interesting, but the 1976 Logan’s Run stands alone as a kind of perfect storm (pardon the cliche) of set and costume design, British acting talent, and music (Jerry Goldsmith‘s score is something else) and ideas. The following year, Star Wars would usher in the era of so-called “space operas”, or Westerns in space, and the age of idea-based science fiction movies would die.

Logan's Run book covers

As the fans say, “Run, runner!”

Logan's Run Marvel Comics issue 6 cover

Ah, Marvel Comics in the ’70s – never a publisher to miss an opportunity to cash-in.

Logan's Run TV series DVD cover

Even worse…

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3 comments for “Logan’s Run

  1. March 3, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    It’s interesting that much of the world depicted in “Logan’s Run” was actually filmed in a shopping mall. Think there’s a subliminal message there? I often wonder after Logan returns to the domed city and exacts his retribution, what was going to happen to all of the surviving citizens who (once they got through pawing poor Ustinov’s face) previously had everything provided for them and had no survival skills?

  2. November 28, 2013 at 1:50 am

    To the best of my knowledge; I am the only one who has ever written a sequel to the film itself; David Zelag Goodman’s screenplay; a trilogy in fact called “The Outside” and the first book is called “The Valkyrie’s Nemesis”. Why? I was 16 at the time and I wanted answers to my questions; all from the final scene. The City blows up; everyone comes out and wow – the Old Man! Who then gestures up to L& J and the people all see this – and thus in that moment our heros are cemented as the leaders and founders of whatever sort of society they would build for themselves. And uhhh – notice in that final scene there are no black and grey tunic Sandmen? Where did they all go? I answered these questions in my first book which takes place in late 2278, almost 3 years after the film’s conclusion. The sandmen wage war against Sanctuary.
    My trilogy’s concluding book; “The Rainbow of 2337” ends very well and upbeat but starts extremely dark; “Logan fans” dont like it at all.
    “Blustery winds whipped from the northeast; it was cold and grey for early November; Jessica tightened her coat about her as she walked down the path alone… It had been nine months since the funeral of her husband, Logan 5…”

    I took artistic license from the screenplay in that Francis 7 does not die. To know my books is to know Thoreau and Emerson. In 1993 I had some contact with Ms. Agutter and she was taken by my development of her character, Jessica 6 – whom only she and she alone could ever portray. In my final novel; Jessica is now a graciously retired lady, now over 80 years old (looks and feels 40 – technology in sci-fi is great!) the mother of 8 and grandmother of 14. And her society – SANCTUARY – also has been fruitful and multiplied. Yet her dear friend Francis 7 had to convince Jessica to come out of retirement for as the sole surviving founder of Sanctuary; only her influence could hold LJSC together and keep it from chaos and civil war…

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