Soylent Green

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Movie Soylent Green is a classic 1973 science fiction movie starring Charlton Heston, Edward G. Robinson and Chuck Connors. It is loosely based on the 1966 science fiction novella about overpopulation by Harry Harrison, Make Room! Make Room!, but has lost much of the plot and significantly changed the underlying theme.

The most common use of the term Soylent Green today is in reference to the fictional food product which is at the center of the film's plot.



The movie, set in the year 2022, depicts a future dystopia, a Malthusian catastrophe that takes place because humanity has failed to pursue sustainable development and has not halted population growth. Charlton Heston plays Thorn, a New York City policeman, investigating the suspicious murder of William R. Simonson (Joseph Cotten), a former member of the board of the Soylent corporation. Thorn's roommate is Sol Roth (Edward G. Robinson), who is also a police researcher.

In the movie, normal meat and vegetables are too expensive, and the government dispenses rations of food substances made by the Soylent corporation: Soylent Yellow, Soylent Red, and the newest product, Soylent Green.

Soylent, as the name suggests, was derived from soya and lentils. However, Thorn discovers that Soylent Green apparently includes the recycled bodies of people picked up by riot control "scoop" trucks, as well as those murdered by the government in an attempt to keep knowledge of this cannibalism from the populace.

Thorn's anguished cry of "Soylent Green is people!" has become an iconic catch phrase and is frequently referenced/parodied in many other works (see Cultural References below).

The movie previews almost revealed Soylent Green's main ingredient, and the resulting spoiled surprise may have contributed to the current popular culture's tendency to refer to the movie. In the previews, a narrarator asks, "What is the secret of soylent green?" and scenes follow of bodybags on a conveyer belt and Charlton Heston beginning to say the line "Soylent Green is people!". Thus the Soylent Green preview became a quintessential example of promotional materials that revealed too much about the feature.

The world of Soylent Green

The world of Soylent Green is complex and detailed. It becomes clear that the culture of Earth is significantly different from the time in which it was filmed.


  • book refers to people who work with books, such as researchers. Sol Roth is referred to by Thorn as a "book." Real books are rare, and no longer printed.
  • d is the common vernacular for the currency, presumably the US dollar. Several outlandish prices are given, including 150 'd's for a jar of jam and 270 'd's for a few vegetables, but it is ultimately unclear if these prices are the result of the extreme famine, or inflation, as no other items' values are declared. Soylent Green costs 2 'd's a kilo.
  • furniture refers to women who are part of an organized system of prostitution, in which attractive women are offered as escorts as an amenity included with an upscale apartment.
  • scoop refers to riot control "scoop" trucks which pick up rioters in mechanical grabs, as shown in the publicity picture.


  • The original 1966 book Make Room! Make Room! is set in the year 1999, with the theme of overpopulation and overuse of resources leading to increasing social disorder as the millennium celebrations approach. It mentions soylent steaks, but makes no reference to "soylent green" or to the ideas of euthanasia and cannibalism which form the basic theme of the movie.
  • This is the last movie filmed by Edward G. Robinson, who died in 1973.
  • A character is briefly seen operating a Computer Space arcade game, marking the movie as one of the first to show the emerging pop cultural phenomenon of video games.

Cultural references

Numerous fictional crossovers and cultural references have been made over the years. Some of these include:

  • It was referenced in the animated TV show Rocko's Modern Life. Heffer and Rocko believe that Filburt is an alien, whose species uses Chewy Chicken as the center for their evil. After Heffer confronts Filburt about it, Rocko forces him out of the restaurant Heffer screams, "It's people! Chewy Chicken is people!" A family of chickens who is walking by turn to each other and say "Well, that's a relief!"
  • Soylent Green is mentioned in the 1999 film Drop Dead Gorgeous, where a beauty pageant participant uses a monologue from Soylent Green as her talent piece, ending with the memorable line: ...Soylent Green. Is. People!
  • It has been mentioned on the animated TV series Harvey Birdman, Attorney At Law, where the owner of the law firm "Phil" yells out in the cafeteria "It's people! The Mediterranean wrap is people!! No... wait... maybe it's baba ganoush."
  • Soylent Green has been referenced on the animated TV series Futurama:
    • Soylent Cola (the taste varies from person to person) and Glagnar's Human Rinds
    • Human meat is available at a shop in Little Neptune in NNYC
    • The crew discovers the secret ingredient of the soft drink Slurm.
    • In the episode "30% Iron Chef" (a parody of Iron Chef) the theme ingredient of the cooking competition turns out to be Soylent Green, but the Asian host calls it Soylent Blue, referring to the vague distinction between the colours blue and green in many East-Asian languages.
    • In the episode where the crew travels back in time to 1940s America, Professor Farnsworth enters a diner and orders Soylent Green, Red, and Blue.
  • References to Soylent Green have been made in several episodes of The Simpsons, including:
    • "Bart to the Future", in which a future Ralph chastises Bart for eating Soylent Green (Now with More Girls!)
    • "Itchy and Scratchy: The Movie", in which Homer buys Soylent Green at a movie theater.
    • "Treehouse of Horror V", in which Bart, Lisa and Milhouse discover that their cafeteria is killing students to make the food, as a solution to overcrowding in public schools.
    • "Natural Born Kissers", on finding Homer and Marge's clothes on the mini-golf course, Ned Flanders cries "It was people! People soiled our green.".
  • It was referenced on two episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Never Kill a Boy on the First Date" and "Doublemeat Palace"
  • Soilent Green is the name of a grindcore/progressive rock music band.
  • Soilent Grün early 1980s German Punkrock Band with later members of Die Ärzte
  • Soylent Green is a song of industrial band Wumpscut. Song contains audio samples from the German dubbed version of the movie.
  • Saturday Night Live has parodied Soylent Green in several sketches, including:
    • "Let's Talk and Talk and Talk About Movies", a review of bad movie sequels, including several horrible sequels to Soylent Green in each of which Charlton Heston (played by Phil Hartman) dramatically screams "It's people!"
    • "MTV Future", in which it is the year 2054, and Jessica Simpson is still confused about the contents of Chicken of the Sea brand tuna fish. It is revealed that both chicken and tuna are extinct, and it is, in fact, people.
  • In the computer game Warcraft 3, clicking on a Troll Witch Doctor several times in a row makes him say, "Soylent Grey is made from trolls?!"
  • NationStates, an online-based political simulation computer game, has frequent references to Soylent products, mostly indicating that nations are not particularly concerned with human rights.
  • Space Quest VI: The Spinal Fronter, an installment from the popular adventure game series, had a food replicator (although technically a wormhole to the restaurant universe) named Mr. Soylent. Whenever one came up to it and click on the screen, a song would come up:
This world's a great big ball of dirt with fifty billion souls
Who like to sit around and veg down in the dark like moles.
But me I'm just the kind of girl who loves the open air
And bits of unburned hydrocarbons blowing through my hair.
New Soylent Clear, at last it's here, with clearly better taste.
Less people too, like me and you, and less reprocessed waste.
More hearty crunch for snacks or lunch, it's crystal clear to see
New Soylent Clear's the last frontier for folks like you and meeeeeee!
New Soylent Clear. Clearly less people, clearly more taste.
  • In 1996 TV series Millennium, main character Frank Black (played by actor Lance Henriksen) uses the term "Soylent Green is people" as the voice password to his computer.
  • The online store ThinkGeek recently put a shirt out for sale, which states "Soylent Green is people!"
  • In the game Command and Conquer: Yuri's Revenge, Yuri's Grinder building can recycle any unit, and in the Allied Mission: Hollywood In Vain, the captured civilians can be heard saying 'Soylent Green for Yuri' as they march to the Grinders. Also, the flag Soylent= ( sets the amount of money acquired from a recycled unit in the rules(md).ini file.
  • Soylent Green is also referenced in an MMORPG known as Asheron's Call, where a character known as "Brighteyes" reacts to certain items using the famous phrase, "It's people! Mushed Nanners is people!"
  • In the RPG video game Xenogears, Solaris, a hidden civilization in another planet, reprocesses the victims of their genetic experiments into food (unknown to most people) in what they call the "Soylent System".
  • An episode of The Ben Stiller Show includes a sketch entitled "The Legend of T. J. O'Pootertoots," in which Faith, a waitress (played by Janeane Garofalo) for a T.G.I. Friday's-style theme restaurant, discovers that O'Pootertoot himself was a member of the cannibalistic Donner Party who survived and marketed human flesh as food, including their trademark "Pooter Balls". Its relation to Soylent Green comes full circle when David Cross delivers the line "It's people! Pooter Balls are made out of people!".
  • Deus Ex has a candy bar called Choco-Lent: "It's chocolate! It's people! It's both!"
  • The Deus Ex game also uses a color on the interface which is referred to as Soylent Green
  • In an episode of Cartoon Network's Johnny Bravo, after visiting a jerky factory, which is clearly a parody of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Johnny believes to see Pops go into a jerky processing machine, and then shouting to a crowd of people "Jerky Jake's jerky is peoples I tells ya'! Peoples!".
  • and its related web sites are a product of Soylent Communications, a very elusive and secretive group.
  • An episode of the television show News Radio, set in the future, includes a radio announcer, played by Phil Hartman, reading the commercial - "Soylent Green! Made from the best stuff on Earth... people! ... Soylent Green: it's People!"

External links


fr:Soleil vert sv:Soylent_Green


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