Back in the 1970s the Sci-fi film genre was much different than today. Like any decade, the ’70s scene had its own style and approach to filmmaking; in the case of Sci-fi, it was usually stories with ominous undertones. Often confronting the arrogance of humanity and their effects on the world, more often than not, the atmosphere around ’70s Sci-fi cinema was rather depressing. Setting the tone for the era, one can look to films such as Planet of the Apes or 2001: A Space Odyssey, both which were released two years prior to the dawn of the ’70s. Moving forward, you had Clockwork Orange in 1971, but in 1972 a film by the name of Silent Running emerged… and it still resonates all these years later.
The directorial debut of Douglas Trumbull, who pioneered methods in special effects/created scenes for 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, as well as 1982’s Blade Runner, Silent Running is a film that deserves a lot more accolades than it has received. Visually stunning, some might argue that it strongly influenced George Luca’s 1977 mega hit Star War. Additionally, the film touched on some really intense topics such as the importance of environmental conservation, plus the feeling of hopelessness, isolation, and loneliness. These factors in mind, it comes as no surprise that even though it is a Top Ten Sci-fi flick of all-time, many have not even seen it. Tragic in many ways, now dedicated fans, and those who are new to the party, get a chance to experience Silent Running in 4K Ultra High Definition.
Released by Arrow Video at the end of 2022 on December 13th, Silent Running is offered up in a special edition single disc 4K package. Not new to home media, in the past, Silent Running was available on Betamax, VHS (numerous times), DVD in 2002, on Blu-ray in 2011, on a 2K Blu-ray in 2020, leading us up to present day. In truth, the 2020 2K release, also from Arrow Video, is comparable in supplemental content to this release. In fact, there are identical special features on the disc. The only noticeable difference is, of course, the 4k transfer, but also an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by Barry Forshaw and Peter Tonguette (available as part of the first pressing only). So, is it worth purchasing this new edition of Silent Running? If you have the 2K release from 2020, probably not, but if you don’t, absolutely.
Now, let us look into the 4K transfer, which is pretty top-notch. Transferred from the original camera negatives, the imagery is crisp, clean, and rich in color. Is it that much different than the 2K transfer, well, you would need a really well-trained eye to see it, but probably. Regardless, the 4K transfer is beautiful and completing this new package are some nice bonus features such as multiple audio commentary tracks, an on-set documentary, and an archival conversation with leading film star, two-time Oscar nominee Bruce Dern.
In all, the 4K release of Silent Running is well worth purchasing if you want to upgrade from a prior DVD copy, or simply because you have never seen the film before. As stated, Silent Running is rather dark and depressive, but the mood really grabs your attention. Whether you are alarmed by the craziness surrounding the world today, or simply enjoy a thoughtful glimpse into the tragic condition of humanity, Silent Running is a must watch. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Arrow Video’s 4K UHD Special Edition release of Silent Running 4.5 out of 5 stars.