IT SEEMS LIKE every movie is getting a remake these days .
Psycho. The Wicker Man. Dawn of the Dead. The Pink Panther. Evil Dead.
If the movie was made more than six months ago, its getting a remake.
Much fuss was made about the recent remake of Ghostbusters.
And by “fuss” I mean people are saying that it sucked.
I don’t have an opinion about that.
I mean, I do. But that’s not what this blog post is all about.
What this blog post is about is how it seems that every movie nobody wants to be remade gets a remake and movies that could do for a remake haven’t been remade.
… although every-so-often a movie does spawn a short-lived TV show.
The movie I’m thinking about is Logan’s Run.
I’m really surprised that no one has remade this movie.
It’s actually a pretty good flick.
And with the kind of special effects that folks like ILM do these days, they’d certainly make characters like Box look better than this
Ok. Now for the plot.
Logan’s Run (released in 1976, based on the 1967 novel by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson) takes place in a city in the post-apocalyptic future. The City is under a Dome; a refuge for what remains of civilization after mankind nearly annihilates itself by nuclear war.
Logan’s City under the Dome is a utopia. Everyone in the City is slim, beautiful, and content with lives where everything is provided for; the people don’t worry about food, shelter, or raising their own children. Life under the dome is carefree and filled with pleasure.
More importantly, everyone in the City is young.
That’s because no one is allowed to live past 30.
In the City, one’s lifespan is governed by a life-clock, signified by a crystal stone implanted into the palm of the hand at birth. As a person ages the crystal changes color, eventually turning from a color to a blinking light as one approaches their thirtieth year.
At thirty, citizens go to Carousel where they are “renewed”.
When you’re renewed, they say you are reborn.
More about that in a minute.
While watching Logan’s Run, a few things popped into my mind:
Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.
Thomas More’s Utopia
Society under the Dome is structured much like Plato’s ideal city in Republic and Huxley’s Brave New World. Under the Dome, citizens are arranged into separate groups. Social status (in this case, a citizen’s age) is indicated by garment color (red, yellow, green). Children are not born and raised by their biological mothers and fathers but are cultivated and raised in nurseries. Citizens are given names proceeded by a number (Logan 5, Jessica 6, Holly 13, and the like).
Life is all about doing drugs, having promiscuous sex, and watching people renewed at Carousel.
And so… we’re introduced to Logan 5, a Sandman who – wait.
I have to get back to something…
When a person reaches the age of thirty they are sent to Carousel.
Carousel is where you are renewed.
When you are renewed, you are reborn.
At Carousel, the thirty year old body is destroyed and the individual is reincarnated into another body… or so people are told.
However, some people in the City have figured out that when you are renewed at Carousel you die.
That’s where Logan comes in.
Logan 5 and his buddy Francis 7, belong to a group called Sandman. Sandmen catch and eliminate “runners” – people who attempt to avoid being renewed at Carousel.
One such runner is named Jessica 6.
Logan meets Jessica 6, a woman who is looking for a place called Sanctuary, a place rumored to be outside of the walled City where there is no Carousel and people can live freely.
After persuading Logan that people are not renewed at Carousel (but that they actually are killed) Logan and Jessica escape the City. Unfortunately, the pair discover that Sanctuary is a myth.
However, while outside, they meet an old man. Because no one under the Dome is allowed to live past the age of thirty, they’ve never seen a person as old as the old man. The old man tells Logan and Jessica the story of his life – that he was born of a mother and was raised by and lived with his parents until they died.
Jessica and Logan decide to take the old man to the city.
At the end of the film, the people gather around the old man, intrigued by the old, strange man who lived outside the Dome.
You know, I enjoyed Logan’s Run. I enjoyed the story of Logan 5 and Jessica 6. I rooted for them to escape the City. But something kept nagging me while I watched the film.
Sure, Logan and Jessica probably avoided going to Carousel, but is that a good thing?
It’s understandable that Logan and Jessica want to escape, but do they need to disrupt the social order?
We can assume by the looks of the world outside of the Dome and by the fact that there is just one old guy alive out there, that something horrible happened to humanity in the past. Society needed to construct the City under the Dome. Society needed Carousel.
The Classical Greek philosopher, Plato writes that the success and security of the polis depends on everyone adhering to the way society is structured. To deviate from societal structure, Plato states, can potentially collapse society.
Life in Plato’s ideal city is highly regulated. Individuals are divided into groups based on social status: an auxiliary class, comprised of warriors who defend the city and enforce the laws, and a the lower class, both ruled by a class of guardians, headed by the philosopher-king.
We aren’t told exactly how the City under the Dome is arranged, but in Logan’s Run, we see a large class of citizens, policed by the Sandmen, who make sure that the citizens comply with the ritual of Carousel.
And like Plato’s ideal city, the people of the Dome are tied to the city through ritual. The ritual of renewal at Carousel binds people to the City. And like Plato’s Republic, children of the domed city are raised, not by their biological parents, but by nurses. Parents are merely sperm and egg donors with no attachment to their offspring.
The rituals in Plato’s Republic and in Logan’s Run are reinforced through lies – what Plato calls Noble Lies. Plato writes,
“Could we,” I said, “somehow contrive one of those lies that come into being in vase of need, of which we were just now speaking, some one noble lie to persuade, in the best case, even the rulers, but of not them, the rest of the city?”(Book III, 414b-c)
People under the Dome are told that they don’t die but are renewed. The promise of being renewed keeps people compliant.
They don’t mind (or don’t notice) that runners are killed by Sandmen.
Or even ask why people are running in the first place.
Why would anyone run if you’re going to be renewed?
The life-clock is a lie.
Even the story of Sanctuary is a myth. There is no Sanctuary. People who flee the city are killed… by this guy.
If Box were back in the Republic of Plato, he would have been part of the auxiliary.
And like Huxley’s Brave New World, life under the Dome is easy and uncomplicated. The City functions by unseen leaders with no input from the citizens. The people under the Dome are kept busy with a leisurely life of carnal delights like sex and drugs. If you are dissatisfied with way you look, go to New You and change your face!
( because “Ending is better than mending”)
Those who refuse to comply are kept outside of the City where are left to fend for themselves. Sandmen sweep the City to remove problem individuals and runners are dealt with quickly and harshly.
Now, we know that every utopia is, in reality, a dystopia. Despite outward appearances, Utopian living is anything but Utopian. People are robbed of their freedom. Compliance is forced. People cannot choose their own way of life. Those who threaten the utopia are eliminated. In Logan’s Run, mere talk of life outside of the City is forbidden.
When Logan and Jessica leave the Dome to find Sanctuary, they are pursued by Logan’s Sandman partner, Francis 7. Logan and Jessica learn that those who escape the City do not find Sanctuary, but instead find the mechanical assassin Box, whose sole purpose is to kill the escaped Runners.
Which brings me to my question – what good can come of introducing the old man to the City?
Sure, Plato says that people need to leave the cave and step into the light of truth, but at what expense? What if that truth upends the social order?
It’s clear that Carousel is form of population control – not just to prevent overpopulation, but also as a means of Platonic myth-making Noble Lies meant to bind the people’s loyalty to the City. Certainly the old man’s presence would be jarring. The old man is introduced to a society that not only does not know that people grow old and die, but it’s also a tightly-controlled society where every need and want are provided for. The old man’s very existence challenges (if not shatters) the myth of Carousel, and by extension the foundation of society underneath the Dome. The old man’s arrival would throw the City into chaos (I suspect this is exactly why Logan and Jessica brought the old man back to the city with them).
Is the old man the right kind of chaos to bring to the City – a city populated with drug-taking, promiscuous infantile people who have no idea that the human lifespan is longer than thirty years, don’t raise their own children, or how to self govern?
What happens to the old man after the unseen City rulers learn of his presence?
How soon is he renewed at Carousel?
Sources: Plato. Republic. Trans. Allan Bloom. 1991. Basic Books.