Classic Film: Logan’s Run (1976)

Futuristic films are almost always more about the era in which they’re made than the one in which they’re set, and Michael Anderson’s 1976 sci-fi adventure Logan’s Run is no exception. A Me Decade parable about the obsession with youth culture and the pleasure principle to the exclusion of all else, the movie sets itself up as a vehicle for scathing satire but detours into more of a joyride.

Life in the 23rd century doesn’t seem so bad at first blush. Sure, the world outside the domed cities where everyone lives is apparently despoiled and uninhabitable, but it’s pretty great inside the bubble. Everyone is young and beautiful and sexual delight is there for the taking at the Arcade, which is equal parts shopping mall, disco and Plato’s Retreat. There is one catch, however: When people reach the age of 30, they must endure a fiery process in which they will either die or be reborn. A few folks can distract themselves from the orgies long enough to realize that no one is actually ever reincarnated. Logan (Michael York), a so-called Sandman, hunts down those who run when they realize they’re headed for certain doom. But Logan eventually becomes a runner himself with the aid of rebellious Jessica (Jenny Agutter). Together they try to escape the dome and find sanctuary amid the ruins.

Logan’s Run is a rich film, though its special effects, acting and plotting all career from great to ghastly depending on the scene. The movie is really more an action film than proper satire, and despite its themes, it has a greater concern for its appearance than any deep thinking. In that sense, it truly is emblematic of the ’70s. •

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