With Further Ado #274: The Utopian Paradise… in a Mall – Logan’s Run

Wouldn’t it be great to live a life without worry? A life only dedicated only to pleasure?

Before you sign up there’s one non-negotiable rule… and it’s probably a dealbreaker. You would have to live your wonderful life in mall.

That wasn’t quite the ethical conundrum that MGM and the producers were shooting for back in the mid-70s when they were developing Logan’s Run. The film’s actual premise was that you could live a hedonistic life, but when you turned 30, the gig was up. In this movie, you would give up your life in a ritualistic sacrifice that “probably” led to reincarnation – they called it Renewal – but hey, you never knew for sure. There was no proof, and you had to take it on faith.
In the mid 1970s, someone at MGM had the brilliant, albeit misguided, idea that they could represent the future year of 2274 by shooting on location in the new Dallas Market Center mall.

And what a future it was. Everyone was dressed as if the hippy movement collided with ancient Roman toga makers. The world – which was really that mall – was clean, bright and vapidly optimistic. There were no parenting duties there either. Babies were born and raised in the system. In Logan’s world, the futuristic version of Tinder even comes with a delivery service.

Logan’s Run addressed big themes like conservation, the pursuit of selfish pleasure , government cover-ups, leading a meaningful life, bureaucratic overreach and police brutality. And of course, these are questions we still struggle with today.

The plight of the main characters drives the tension of this movie. What do you when you realize that the basic tenets of your society are all lies?

Michael York is the male lead, Logan-6, who is stereotyped as the most uber-mall security guard you could ever imagine. Jenny Agutter is the enchanting female lead. She’s miles ahead of her counterpart and eager to question authority figures. She is able see beyond the status quo.

From today’s standpoint, as we live in a world filled with zombie malls and struggle with our pleasure-based economy, I wonder if this thriller can spark new conversations.

The response when Logan’s Run debuted was a bit of a disappointment. There wasn’t a lot of time of handwringing. though. The very next year, Star Wars came out and changed every science fiction movie that followed.

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In the 70s, Marvel Comics often was our gateway to the movies. Our fanboy journeys for Planet of the Apes and Kung Fu movies often started in Marvel’s printed comics and oversized magazines.

Marvel’s Logan’s Run comic series started off strong – with writer Gerry Conway and artist George Perez. Later issues would even showcase a Paul Gulacy cover. But uneven storytelling made me jump off the train pretty quickly. It seemed to me – back then- that the creative teams weren’t passionate about this comic series, so maybe I didn’t need to be either.

I’m screening Logan’s Run for the next Screams & Screens at Auburn Public Theater. More details here. I think it’s going to be a fascinating one to watch together on the big screen and to discuss afterwards. I hope you can join us!

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Next week: More of the annual With Further Ado Holiday Gift Guide