Wednesday, August 4, 2010
Classic novels revisted Part one: Logan's Run!
Logan's Run By William F. Nolan & George Clayton Johnson
I read Logan's Run many years ago and decided to revisit the classic for several reasons. Least of which has been getting to know Bill Nolan who lives across the river in Vancouver now. The main reason I wanted to re-read this classic and and comment on it is the looming re-boot. Every year or so a new Logan's Run movie is discussed. For awhile Bryan Singer(X-men, Superman Returns) talked about making it. For one reason or another it has not happened and it's too bad because a modern take on the classic Science fiction novel is overdue.
Recently Bluewater comics have been working with Bill and his editing partner Jason V. Brock to Logan's Run back into comics. They look great and have been selling well. So I am sure that doesn't hurt the movie happening. Nolan worked with the Bluewater artists to give an idea where the author thought the look of Logan could go. Certainly a more realistic and less psychedelic look than the 1976 movie would help.
Recently super producer Joel Silver (the Matrix, Die Hard, Lethal Weapon movies) took over the production. Akiva Goldsman is also producing, I have liked some of Goldsman work even though he often blamed for the worst batman movie ever(Batman and Robin) I think Goldsman's writing on I, Robot and Constantine were solid, the finished products suffered from casting problems not the script. Alex Garland, the screenwriter of the amazing Sunshine and 28 Days Later has been hired to write the script. He is a great character based writer who is also a novelist. Great choice, I hope that bodes well for the film.
Back to the novel...
The novel is tightly constructed minimalist science fiction adventure which is short in word count but long in ideas. It is amazing how much story is conveyed in 130 or so pages. You get your money's worth that is for sure. It has been suggested in many articles about the novel that Nolan did the bulk of the writing and the concepts were largely those of George Clayton Johnson who often remembered for Kick the Can twilight zone episode and being the original screenwriter of Ocean's 11.
I don't know how the division of labor went, I know that the novel is masterwork of science fiction. The story of future where population is controlled by the age 21 term limit. At the end of your twenty first year you have a last day to celebrate before going to “sleep.” Logan's job is to run down the people who will not accept there fate on last day. Of course as his Last day approaches Logan takes on the mission to find the elusive Sanctuary the runners seek. He tells himself that it is just a patriotic mission but is Logan questioning society?
Logan's Run as science fiction could not be more out of date. That is one of it's best charms. As statement about the times in which it was written Logan's run is genius. Released in 1967, during the times of flower power and protests. It was a time when the young said “never trust anyone over thirty,” and add to it the first real concerns about the population growth on earth. What would happen if the youth had there way?
What happens if a world evolves where no one grows older and wiser? If the novel lacks anything it is a deeper look into those issues. I am hoping the comics or the film really takes a look at that. Certainly if I were making the film I would cast actors who were really teenagers, young people, who look and feel young. The world should feel young, and if the actors don't look like kids some of the power of the concept for me is lost.
The 1976 movie is terrible in my opinion, it doesn't help that I re-watched it after re-reading the novel. The last act of the movie drags and that is sad because the novel is so amazingly paced. The scene with Carousel is plain weird and makes a statement about the utopia society having some kind roman like amphitheater that makes no sense with the utopia they were trying to envision.
The action scenes are goofy and hardly exciting, again that might be my disappointment after reading tightly written novel. Johnson and Nolan created an enduring classic that is treat for for Science fiction fans the the first time or being re-visted. Fans of the film will be surprised how different the book, it is not faithful adaptation so there is still a story to discover.
Up next part 1.5 a brand spanking new interview with author William F. Nolan.
The next novel in this series will be John Shirley's horror masterpiece Wetbones in honor of it's 20th anniversary re-issue.