Logan's Run is a 1976 science-fiction film directed by Michael Andersen and starring Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Richard Jordan, Roscoe Lee Browne, Farrah Fawcett and Peter Ustinov. The screenplay by David Zelag Goodman was based on the novel of the same name by William F Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. The film was shot primarily in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex – including locations such as the Fort Worth Water Gardens and the Dallas Market Center – between June and September 1975. It was the first film to use Dolby Stereo on 70mm prints.
It depicts a dystopian future society in which population and the consumption of resources are managed and maintained in equilibrium by the simple expedient of killing everyone who reaches the age of thirty, preventing overpopulation. The story follows the actions of Logan 5, a Sandman, as he runs from society's lethal demand.
The film only uses the basic premise from the novel, that everyone must die at a specific age and Logan runs with Jessica as his companion while being chased by Francis. The motivations of the characters are quite different in the film.
In 1977, a short-lived TV series was made, though only 14 episodes were produced. Since 1994, there have been several unsuccessful efforts to remake the film. Logan's Run was nominated for two Academy Awards and won a Special Academy Award for its visual effects, and won six Saturn Awards including Best Science Fiction Film.
"Sometime in the 23rd century...the survivors of war,
overpopulation and pollution are living in a great domed
city, sealed away from the forgotten world outside. Here in an ecologically balanced world, mankind lives only
for pleasure, freed by the servo-mechanisms which provide
everything. There's just one catch. Life must end at thirty
unless reborn in the fiery ritual of carousel. "
- introduction to Logan's Run (the movie) In the year 2274, the remnants of human civilization live in a sealed City of Domes, a utopia run by a computer that takes care of all aspects of their life, including reproduction. The citizens live a mostly hedonistic lifestyle but have been told that in order to maintain the city, every resident must undergo the ritual of "Carousel" at the age of 30, where they are vaporized with the chance of being "Renewed." To track this, the humans are implanted at birth with a Lifeclock crystal in their palm that changes colors as they approach their "Last Day." Most residents accept this loose promise of rebirth, but some sense that it is simply execution for the sake of population control, and go into hiding to avoid Carousel. These fugitives are known as Runners, and the city's computer assigns Sandmen (officially known as DS agents, de facto executioners), who pursue and terminate them.
Logan 5 (Michael York) is a Sandman, along with his friend Francis 7 (Richard Jordan). After chasing and killing one Runner, Logan finds an ankh among his possessions. Later, he meets Jessica 6 (Jenny Agutter), a citizen who also wears an ankh pendant. Logan takes the Runner's possessions to the computer, where he is told the ankh is a symbol of a group of people helping the Runners to find "Sanctuary". The computer instructs Logan to find Sanctuary and destroy it, and accelerates the color change of his Lifeclock to flash red four years before it is due to do so. In order to escape Carousel himself, Logan is now forced to become a Runner.
Logan regroups with Jessica and explains his situation. Together, they meet with the underground group that leads them to the periphery of the city. Logan finds the ankh symbol is able to open a door, allowing them to leave the city into a frozen cave, but the pair are tailed closely by Francis. In the cave, they meet Box (Roscoe Lee Browne), a robot designed to capture food for the city from the outside. However, Box has also captured Runners that have made it this far and keeps them frozen. Before he can freeze them too, Logan and Jessica escape the robot, causing the cave to collapse and destroy Box.
Once outside, Logan and Jessica notice that their Lifeclocks are now clear and no longer operational. Venturing further, they discover that vegetation has overrun much of the remains of human civilization, and explore the nearby area, once the National Mall in Washington D.C. Within the ruins of the United States Senate chamber, they discover an elderly man (Peter Ustinov), a surprise to them both, neither having ever seen a person this old before. The old man explains what he knows has happened to humanity outside of the city; Logan and Jessica realize Sanctuary is a myth. However, Francis 7 has followed them from the City and he and Logan fight. Logan gains the upper hand, and fatally wounds Francis. As Francis dies, he observes that Logan's Lifeclock is now clear, and believes Logan has Renewed.
Logan and Jessica convince the old man to return to the domed city with them. Leaving the man outside, the two enter and try to convince the residents Carousel is a lie and no longer necessary. The two are captured by other Sandmen and taken to the computer. The computer interrogates Logan and asks if he completed his mission, but Logan insists "there is no Sanctuary." This answer is not accepted by the computer, even after scanning Logan's mind. It eventually sends the computer into overload, causing many of the city's systems to fail and releasing the seals to the outside. Logan and Jessica regroup with the old man as the citizens flee the ruined city, curious as to both the new surroundings and the old man.
The score was composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith, with orchestrations by Arthur Morton. The score "adheres to two distinct sound palettes: strings, keyboards and abstract electronics only for cues inside the City, and full orchestra for Outside." The first release of portions of the score was on MGM Records on LP, in 1976. The complete expanded and newly remixed score was issued on CD in January, 2002 by Film Score Monthly.
Michael York, Jenny Agutter and William Devane were originally cast in the lead roles. Devane bowed out when Alfred Hitchcock requested him to replace actor Roy Thinnes in Family Plot. Richard Jordan stepped in for DeVane and was best known for his performance in Rooster Cogburn and the TV mini-series Captains and the Kings. York had previously appeared in Murder on the Orient Express and The Three Musketeers while Agutter was best known for Walkabout (1971) and The Railway Children (1970).
Prior to release the film was previewed and included a number of sequences that were cut or shortened prior to the general release of the film. This included a longer sequence in the ice cave where Box asked Logan and Jessica to pose for his ice sculpture. This sequence was cut partially due to extensive nudity so that the film could receive a PG rating and partially due to the length of the scene. There were also several other sequences cut from the film including a sequence where Francis hunts down a runner by himself at the beginning of the film and other sequences that were trimmed. These sequences survive in the shooting script for the film but the footage itself appears lost.
Roger Ebert gave the film a three star rating, calling the film a "vast, silly extravaganza", with a plot that's a "cross between Arthur C. Clarke's The City and the Stars and elements of Planet of the Apes," but "that delivers a certain amount of fun." The New York Times was less positive: 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.
Awards and Honors
The film won a Special Academy Award and was nominated for two more, Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration. Logan's Run was very popular at the Saturn Awards, winning the six awards it was nominated for: Best Science Fiction Film, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Costume, Best Make-up and Best Set Decoration. It was also nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, the older award for science-fiction and fantasy films, and for the Nebula Award for Best Script. For the film, Anderson was nominated for the Golden Prize at the Moscow International Film Festival.