Yesterday, in The Future


I went to meet a friend of mine for dinner yesterday in Murray Hill (Kips Bay really) where he had just recently moved. Since this was to be my first time going to his new place, I asked him to send me the address and I was tickled to discover that he lives in a building called “The Future”. Although built in 1991, the lobby and elevators had all kinds of funny 70’s era touches that approximated what the future would look like from that vantage point. When I got up to his apartment, I made several small jokes about Logan’s Run, but my friend gave me a perplexed look. Impressing on him what an important cultural touchstone this was (and since I hadn’t seen the film in over two decades), we went back to my place and rented it.

I had forgotten how very bad the special effects were. They apparently hired some student architects to make the cardboard model of the city, which looked like…well, a cardboard model of the city, especially as the camera moved in at various angles. I was flabbergasted to find out that this movie won a few awards for special effects, but I guess that what the state of the art back in 1976. The premise of the film is that in some post apocalyptic future, resources are tightly controlled and in order to maintain balance in the bubble city in which they live, everyone must die at age thirty. The main character of Logan, initially a kind of police enforcer of this system, decides to run from it once his time is up, rather than submit to his own destruction. More interesting were the rather conservative social messages of the film, despite its utopian/dystopian trappings of easygoing sex and sexuality. After the main couple of Logan and Jessica escape the world of the bubble city they live in, they learn from an old man (played hysterically by Peter Ustinov) what life was like “before”, when children were born to actual parents (instead of in a lab) and raised by them. They are further shocked to discover the concept of monogamy and life-long partnership, which they think they would like to try, novel though it is. To drive home the nobility of this lifestyle and the contrast with the world they have come from, the characters at one point have to escape the city by moving through a kind of orgy club where they are sexually assaulted by a mass of writhing naked bodies. Still earlier in the film (and in a wonderfully prescient take on internet hook ups) Logan is a home relaxing (in a Kaftan of course, this is the 70’s view of the future) and viewing channels of people (male and female) available for sex and beaming one into his apartment. Another conservative point would seem to poo poo the idea of managing limited resources at all, and with the destruction of the bubble the city people are cast out into a kind of eden (no mention of what caused the prior apocalypse, whether the world outside is safe, etc, but it looks like there are plants and sunshine, so it must be ok). From here one imagines they have regained a state of innocence or grace and must now learn to cope in the “real” world. Good luck with that I say, you may not realize it, but you are all dressed like Peter Pan.