Day #322/365: Z.P.G.; a return to a curious mini-genre, bleak as an acceptable mode / a world of plastic food and simulated merriment…

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    File under: Trails and Influences. Other Pathways. Case #47/52.

    Z.P.G.-1972-Oliver Reed-Geraldine Chaplin-Diane Cilento-A Year In The Country-6Z.P.G. – Zero Population Growth – is a curious film… reasonably obscure/overlooked I guess but somewhat intriguing (not least because of the presence of Mr Oliver Reed post his peak but still full of a glowering, brooding power, the daughter of a bagged trousered celluloid tummler and the bewitching, almost otherworldly luminescence of an away from the celluloid flickers and into the corporeal Bond companion / folkloric bloom and spouse / rattler of simple men…)

    It could be connected with the curious mini-genre of science fiction films from the 1970s that dealt with ecological/societal collapse, diminishing natural resources and overpopulation – No Blade Of Grass, Soylent Green, Logan’s Run, Phase IV, Silent Running (see Days #83, #88, #213/365)…

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    Essentially in a massively polluted, smogbound Earth natural childbirth has been banned for 30 years in order to try and preserve resources and transgressors are punished in a particular draconian manner (which involves plastic domes printed with the word insignia being used as traps and spray painted pink).

    …couples are offered robot child substitutes (shades of bipedal Tamagotchi?) but not all are quite obeying the rules…

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    From Max Ehrlich’s novelization (The Edict):

    Z.P.G.-1972-Oliver Reed-Geraldine Chaplin-Diane Cilento-The Edict-Max Ehrlich-A Year In The CountryAll citizens stand by. This is an edict from WorldGov. In the interest of balancing the population, and preserving the food supply, the birth of any baby is forbidden for the next thirty years. Any man and woman who conceive and have a child during that period will be put to death by the State. Any child conceived will be considered an outlaw child, and will also be liquidated. There will be constant surveillance by StatePol and a large reward in extra calories for any citizen who reports the presence of an outlaw child. That is all.

    I think one of the things that’s stuck with me from the film is Ollie Reed’s day job; he is an actor in a museum that lets  people watch how previous generations lived in the twentieth century – the scene where he is putting in the hours at a simulated dinner party feels is a jarring moment where the film seems to have stepped back through to (almost) today… and it also seemed to connect it to other museums/repositories of previous times in such fellow mini-genre films as Soylent Green and Silent Running.

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    As a celluloid tale it has elements of b-movie-ism (albeit with what appears to be an at least reasonably decent budget) and elements of action movies but as a document of its time it points to an interesting difference with today’s mainstream orientated tales… it’s a particularly downbeat film, it’s not all glitz, glamour and the good guys winning…

    …and although not as classy or classic, it possesses a certain intelligence within its genre tropes that put me in mind of Planet Of The Apes, particularly towards its ending…

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    Z.P.G.pressbook-oliver reed-geraldine chaplin-A Year In The Country
    Typing away about it makes me want to step back to watch and study it once more when I have a mo’ or two… and so with that I shall step away once I’ve sifted through and recorded a selection of its changing shadows/encasement vessels (see Days #90/365 / #176/365) and associated artifacts….

    (I’m generally pretty curious to see the changes and variations that occur with such things over the years and throughout the globe… particularly when more or less completely unrelated apart from its genre artwork is used – muscle-bound hunk, beau and space capsule anybody? – though it is actually something of a favourite…)

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    Peruse Z.P.G.’s cinematic foreteller here.

     

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