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Silent Running

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A visionary scientist as well as a filmmaker, Douglas Trumbull was brought from animating science films for NASA to supervise visual effects on Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). One of the core team of four special effects supervisors, Trumbull oversaw the climactic stargate sequence, and shortly afterwards was installed as director in his own right on Silent Running (1971).

This memorable, atypical sci-fi film features Bruce Dern as a constant gardener, lovingly tending to his greenhouses in space, all that remains of the earth’s ecology. Three drones, Huey, Louie and Dewey, are his only companions. Though there is little dialogue, the script boasts three notable credits: Michael Cimino and Deric Washburn (The Deer Hunter) and Steven Bochco (Hill Street Blues). Pointedly set in 2001, it’s a gentle, affecting film.

The film was a box office flop, and though he turned down the opportunity to do Star Wars he went back to do special effects work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) and Blade Runner (1982) before devoting his efforts to his own, patented large format, 60 frames-per-second Showscan process.

One of the greatest movies ever made… one of the most moving films I’ve ever seen.

Mark Kermode, BBC

Reality itself has become a sinister post-credits scene Douglas Trumbull certainly hoped to avoid. Nevertheless, as a result, life made his sad, slow, beautiful movie that much more poignant and relevant, 50 years later.

Germain Lussier, IO9


Douglas Trumbull


Bruce Dern, Cliff Potts, Ron Rifkin

Country of Origin






89 min

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Michael Gruskoff


Deric Washburn, Mike Cimino, Steve Bochco


Charles F. Wheeler


Aaron Stell

Original Music

Peter Schickele

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