Logan’s Run (1970) is set in the year 2274. An idyllic paradise where every need is met and there is no crime or inequality…so it would seem. Upon reaching 30 years of age, a person must “renew” during a ceremony known as “Carousel.” Participants are lifted up via some sort of anti-gravity and then disintegrated to the crowd’s enjoyment. It is a happy time and one well celebrated. However, not everyone volunteers for renewal. The men of the Department of Deep Sleep, known as Sandmen, hunt the wayward down and finish them off. This is what Logan 5 and Francis 7 do in service to the city and society in general. Logan discovers a “runner” carrying an ankh and this sparks a whirlwind search for Sanctuary, a presumed place for those who wish to live beyond their allotted years. Logan meets Jessica 6, who is also a member of the Runner Underground, and the pair escape their doom to discover the world outside had recovered from whatever forced the dome’s construction in the first place. Francis, tasked to bring them down, follows in a relentless hunt for his former friend.
This is one of those Saturday afternoon movies you find in the early days of cable television. The effects were rather simple, but I really didn’t care. By the time I first saw it, I was a science fiction nut and this was just another in a pantheon of movies that would influence me for a very long time. I remember actually finding it a tad boring compared to Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek but the colors and sounds were vivid and sharp enough to hold my attention. Admittedly, a lot of the subtext was lost on me. It would be years before I understood the finer points of individualism and the meaning of liberty in the face of oppression.
Logan’s Run is a metaphor of modern life. He lives in mechanized comfort in a sterilized fish bowl of a world. Every need cared for. Every vice explored with little consequence. All your dreams fulfilled. All you have to do is willingly die at 30. As I approach my 50th year on this rock called Earth, I can’t help but look back and wonder. I was in a depression coma for a good chunk of my growing up so I missed out on the usual teenage shenanigans like sex and recreational drugs. Being honest, after I started therapy, I spent most of my 30’s as a raving ass-hat so maybe disintegration wasn’t such a bad idea for me. I understand now that the Carousel had become a ritualized form of population control. As with most dystopian fiction, the real reason is lost and replaced by an almost cult-like sensibility. The false belief of choice. If it serves the greater good, then I serve willingly. But there is evidence that the dome has expanded. Been rebuilt. There is room for all. Computer says you gotta go. You go or the Sandmen come and that’s your ass. The Computer is your friend. Friends don’t lie.
So they run…they hide…and then they run into the great unknown. Life beyond 30 is not an option and I choose life. Sanctuary awaits. Sanctuary means a place of safety. A “safe space.” (Yes, kiddies, we had that idea long ago.) Isn’t it ironic that one would flee paradise voluntarily? Is it too much to ask that you renew to make room for the next generation?
Oh, fuck you.
I’m not going quietly. The Sandmen may come and I may go down but I will not suffer another day in Hell. An outlandish abundance of pleasure can be just as agonizing as torture. The senses dull and the mind becomes complacent. Sanctuary could be found within one’s self. Inner peace. Logan awakens to this truth as he and Jessica are confronted by a world “outside” that is wild and free. Paradise constricted by paradise. Maybe youth is wasted on the young because they have the freedom to be young. After 30 you’re expected to have a career, have a family, and are generally told to abandon the pleasures of youth for more refined (albeit controlled) ones. I’m still a kid at heart. I can just reach the good toys on the top shelf is all. I have certain rules I have to play by but in the end a little order does make sense over random chaos.
Liberty is a soul’s right to breath freely. I don’t know if I believe in an actual “soul” anymore but I understand the notion. No one wants to live in a cage. Even one that serves my every desire. We build our own prisons out of our insecurities and fears. We elect egomaniacs who serve their own interests and then complain that we have been forsaken. You don’t need an actual Sanctuary to which you may run to feel free. Clear your mind. Let go of the crap and the hate. You can run, Runner.