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Logan's Run

Poster for US theatrical release.
Directed by Michael Anderson
Produced by Saul David
Hugh Benson
Unit Production Manager Byron Roberts
Written by Novel:
William F. Nolan
George Clayton Johnson
David Zelag Goodman
Starring Michael York
Richard Jordan
Jenny Agutter
Peter Ustinov
Farrah Fawcett
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Ernest Laszlo
Studio Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s) June 23, 1976
Running time 120 min.
Language English
Budget $9 million[1]
Gross revenue $25,000,000

Logan's Run is a 1976 science fiction film based on the novel of the same name by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. It depicts a Dystopian future society in which population and the consumption of resources are managed and maintained in equilibrium by the simple expediency of killing everyone who reaches the age of thirty, preventing overpopulation. The story follows the actions of Logan 5, a "Sandman," as he "runs" from society's lethal demand.

The film version, directed by Michael Anderson and starring Michael York, Richard Jordan, and Jenny Agutter, was shot primarily in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex (including locations such as the Fort Worth Water Gardens and the Dallas Market Center) between June and September 1975. The film only uses the basic premise from the novel (everyone must die at a specific age, Logan runs with Jessica as his companion while being chased by Francis). The motivations of the characters are quite different in the film.

The film won an Academy Award for Special Achievement for its visual effects. It was also nominated for two other Oscars; Best Cinematography and Best Art Direction (Dale Hennesy, Robert De Vestel).[2] It received the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film, and was nominated for a Nebula Award for Best Script. Logan's Run was the first film made using Dolby Stereo.[3]

Since 1994, there have been several unsuccessful attempts to remake the film.



The film begins with an on-screen preamble:

Sometime in the 23rd century...the survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution are living in a great domed city, sealed away from the forgotten world outside. Here, in an ecologically balanced world, mankind lives only for pleasure, freed by the servo-mechanisms which provide everything. There's just one catch: Life must end at thirty unless reborn in the fiery ritual of Carrousel.

Within a domed city, Logan 5 (Michael York) watches as an infant's hand is implanted with a Lifeclock; it changes colour as a person ages. As someone approaches their "Last Day" the Lifeclock blinks red, and finally turns black. Logan is a Sandman, responsible for hunting down and killing Runners, people who refuse to report to Carrousel when their Lifeclock blinks. Logan is accompanied by his fellow Sandman and friend Francis 7 (Richard Jordan).

The two witness a Carrousel ceremony. In Carrousel, there is the hope of Renewal, a belief that if they have obeyed the rules faithfully, they may be reincarnated. If anyone disobeys, they are "finished forever." The participants assemble in an arena, then appear to be vapourized while the audience cheers, shouts and chants "Renew!" Although neither Logan nor Francis have known anyone who succeeded in this, Francis believes that Sandmen will always renew. After helping Francis hunt and kill a Runner, Logan gathers the Runner's personal effects which include a small silver ankh.

At home searching for recreational sex, Logan summons someone from "The Circuit"; he meets Jessica 6 (Jenny Agutter), who wears a collar with an ankh pendant. After discussing with Logan why it's wrong to run, Jessica leaves, deciding not to have sex with him.

York as Logan 5, with blinking red lifeclock in his palm.

At Sandman headquarters, Logan turns in the effects he gathered from the Runner he and Francis killed, including the ankh. The computer scanning the ankh explains to Logan that it is the symbol for a group assisting Runners who are trying to reach "Sanctuary" and gives him a secret assignment: find Sanctuary and destroy it. So that he can pass as a Runner, the computer advances Logan's Lifeclock so that it blinks. When Logan asks what he should do if he needs assistance from another Sandman, the computer refuses to answer, implying that no other Sandman will know of this mission. When Logan then asks if his Lifeclock will be restored to its previous setting once he has completed his assignment, he receives an ambiguous response.

Remembering the ankh Jessica was wearing, Logan meets with her, seeking her help to infiltrate the Runners and locate Sanctuary. Jessica is skeptical about his interest in running, but becomes convinced when Logan helps another Runner instead of killing her. Francis, unaware of Logan's assignment, witnesses his failure to kill a Runner. Francis kills the Runner, then pursues Logan and Jessica.

Logan and Jessica reach one of the Runners' hideouts but are stopped by members of the underground. Logan secretly activates his distress beacon, assuming that the hideout is Sanctuary. The Runner group lets them pass after another member confirms that Logan and Jessica are Running. Francis and other Sandmen storm the area, killing the Runners. Logan and Jessica escape, with Francis in pursuit. Logan and Jessica reach a doorway where a computerized voice prompts them to use their ankh to open a lock. While removing Jessica's ankh from her necklace it falls into some muddy water. Logan uses the ankh from the Runner he killed to open the lock, and they make their way to a fish farm underneath the city. Francis finds Jessica's ankh and catches up with them. He fires at a water tank's window, flooding the complex. Logan and Jessica are carried down a corridor by the water and find an elevator.

Logan and Jessica leave the city, discovering their Lifeclocks have become clear. The outside world has returned to nature, although it also contains remnants of a civilization, including part of the National Mall in Washington, D.C.. Logan and Jessica realize Sanctuary does not exist. They meet an old man (Peter Ustinov) who is completely bewildering to them since they have never known anyone older than 30. The old man lives in the former Senate Chamber.

Francis catches up to them and takes Jessica hostage, heading to the second floor gallery. Logan tries to convince Francis to give up the chase, pleading with Francis to look at his clear Lifeclock. Francis is so shocked that he drops his gun, which Jessica throws out of his reach. Francis leaps down from the gallery to the Senate floor and fights Logan. Logan strikes Francis with a pole carrying a tattered American flag, killing him. Before dying, Francis sees Logan's clear Lifeclock and congratulates his friend, "Logan... You Renewed!"

Logan and Jessica journey to the city to tell the inhabitants what they've learned, inviting the old man to join them. The old man waits as Logan and Jessica enter the city. They reach a crowd gathering for Carrousel and explain that they do not have to die. Logan and Jessica are arrested by several Sandmen and brought before the Sandman central computer for interrogation. Logan resists, but the computer system accesses his mind. When the computer asks if Logan found Sanctuary, he subconsciously replies that Sanctuary does not exist. This information runs contrary to what the computer considers fact, leading it to decry it as "does not program." The computer redoubles its efforts to hack into Logan's mind, but continues receiving contrary information from Logan. This causes a cascade failure of cognitive dissonance as a series of chain reactions cause explosions, blasting parts of the city seals open. The populace flees, and the young citizens meet the first old man that they have ever seen.



The score was composed and conducted by Jerry Goldsmith, with orchestrations by Arthur Morton. The score "adheres to two distinct sound palettes: strings, keyboards and abstract electronics only for cues inside the City, and full orchestra for Outside." [4]

The first release of portions of the score was on MGM Records on LP, in 1976. The complete score was issued on cd in 2002, on Film Score Monthly records.

Critical reaction

Roger Ebert gave the film a three star rating, calling the film a "vast, silly extravaganza", with a plot that's a "cross between Arthur C. Clarke's The City and the Stars and elements of Planet of the Apes, but "that delivers a certain amount of fun."[1]

The New York Times was less positive:[5]

Just why and for what particular purpose Logan makes his run is anything but clear after you've sat through nearly two hours of this stuff. Logan's Run is less interested in logic than in gadgets and spectacle, but these are sometimes jazzily effective and even poetic. Had more attention been paid to the screenplay, the movie might have been a stunner.

Gene Siskel gave the movie no stars and called it "the worst major motion picture in seven years of reviewing films." Siskel cited what he believed to be "cheap special effects" and "terrible performances with the exception of Peter Ustinov, whose cameo is expanded to a ridiculous length because he is the only decent thing in the movie." Siskel stated his contempt for the film began in the opening scroll with information about the Carrousel and "a half dozen or so other facts but I'll be damned if I could read them in the time allotted so already the audience is angry with the picture."

The movie is often eclipsed by science fiction movies which came after it, such as Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Alien. However, for a few years following the film, science fiction conventions sometimes featured "Runs" (either organized by the convention or done ad-hoc by fans of the film); these were a chase game similar to Tag, in which the Runners (most in costume) fled from a handful of Sandmen (also in costume). These decreased in popularity following several occasions in which police responded to frantic calls made by observers who mistook them for real chases.[citation needed].

In 1993 British producer John Truelove as The Source released the single "Sanctuary of Love" which used vocals from the film, specifically those about Sanctuary spoken by 'The Computer', and the line "Don't Be Afraid" as spoken by the young girl cub in The Cathedral, 'Mary 2'.[6]

Differences between the novel and film

The film shares the same basic premise as the novel in that nobody over a specific age is allowed to live. Logan runs in order to find Sanctuary with Jessica as his companion while being chased by Francis. However, the primary motivations for the characters in the film deviate significantly from the novel. The movie is set in a post-apocalyptic scenario in which the final remnants of humanity live in a domed city sealed off from the outside world. Thus, the population control policy is designed to prevent overpopulation of the dome. In the film, there is a death ceremony called "Carrousel" in which people believe they may be "renewed".

In the novel, there has been no worldwide apocalyptic war, but some cities from the past (e.g. Washington D.C.) have been ruined in the Little War. Instead, there was a youth revolution ("Never trust anyone over 30") and all people over the age of 21 were dispatched. Most cities are massive and thriving, which makes the forced-execution premise much more cynical. Accordingly, in the novel, Logan and Jessica travel all over North America with a brief layover in a research station in the Challenger Deep. The novel does not contain Carrousel, nor the concept of life renewal. Instead, people willingly go to the Sleep Centers when their Lastday arrives.

In the novel, Logan is not assigned the task of finding Sanctuary by the worldwide computer system (the "Thinker"). Instead, after discovering a key on a runner whose dying word is the legendary word "Sanctuary" he is shocked to notice at that same moment that his own palmflower (lifeclock) is blinking, signifying that he has 24 hours to live. In a bid to end his life covered in glory, he decides to become a Runner and find Sanctuary, if it exists, in order to destroy it. He meets Jessica at the first stage in the "sanctuary line", the New You Shop (also seen in the film) where she is recovering from appearance altering surgery. While the film declares that there is no Sanctuary, the novel shows that it does exist: on an abandoned space station in orbit near Mars. In fact, Francis is chasing Logan not because Francis is a Sandman bent on destroying a Runner but rather because he is the gatekeeper to Sanctuary and he cannot allow a Sandman to find it. With the escape to Sanctuary, the novel sets up the two sequels, Logan's World and Logan's Search.

Also, in the novel, Lastday occurs on one's 21st birthday; according to the DVD commentary, this was raised to 30 for the film because it was difficult to find actors who looked young enough.

Crystal Color In Novel In Film
White N/A Birth to 8 years.
Yellow Birth to 7 years. 9 to 15 years.
Blue: 8 to 14 years. N/A
Green N/A 16 to 23 years.
Red 15 years to Lastday (21 years). 24 years to 10 days before Lastday (30 years).
Blinking Red/Black Lastday. 10 days to Lastday.
Black End of Lastday (death) End of Lastday (death)

Other differences include:

  • In the movie, the crystal rosette in each person's palm starts white (or clear). According to a DVD Easter egg available by selecting the crystal from the main menu, a person's lifeclock is white from infancy to age 8, yellow from age 9 to 15, green from age 16 to 23, and red from age 24 to lastday. The DVD commentary gives a different timeframe: yellow from infancy through age 11, green from 12 through 23, and red from 24 to 30. The film depicts lifeclocks blinking red during the last 10 days until Lastday, but is not precise about when the blinking begins. In the novel, there is no white or green: lifeclocks start yellow, turn blue at 7, turn red at 14, then blink on the Lastday before turning black at death.
  • In the movie, Logan is assigned by the city's computer to go undercover as a Runner to find Sanctuary and destroy it, and Logan's lifeclock (referred to as "palm flowers" in the novel) is artificially advanced to enable him to infiltrate the network of citizens sympathetic to Runners. In the book, Logan decides to undertake this quest himself on his own Lastday so that he will be remembered as a hero. For most of the book, therefore, Logan is a much darker character, an antihero, with his character developing a growing sympathy towards Runners until he eventually desires to achieve, not destroy, Sanctuary.
  • In the movie, Logan finds an ankh pendant, which is a key to Sanctuary, on the body of a Runner he has killed. In the novel he finds a card that allows him to contact an underground network of Runners, through which he meets Jessica. Logan's character in the movie is similarly amoral, but also more inquisitive when compared to other Sandmen. His character is more that of an innocent corrupted by the system — and victimized by it as well. When he is assigned the task of finding Sanctuary, his lifeclock is advanced to Lastday-countdown although he is "only Red-6" (four years short of his allotted lifespan).
  • The character of Box, a psychopathic cyborg whom the pair encounters, is much different in the film than he is in the book.
    • In the movie, Box is an insane robot who originally oversaw food-processing for the original builders of the city. His lair is part of the passage that the Runners used as an escape route from the domed city. He appears to predate the collapse of outside civilization, and was once assigned to freeze food delivered to the city (as he proclaims, "Fish, plankton, sea greens, and protein from the sea! harvest day."), but he now freezes Runners because the original food deliveries stopped coming and they started arriving instead.
    • In the novel, Logan and Jessica find themselves trapped in an Arctic prison colony and are told that Box, the colony's most violent and insane inmate, is their only key to escape. He is shown in the book to be a man who has various horrifying cybernetic implants attached to his body in order to keep him alive, and his description in the book is very similar to a Borg drone from Star Trek. His encounter with Logan and Jessica culminates in a scene which would be unsuitable (or in many countries illegal) to include in a major motion picture in 1976: Box traps Logan in a cage and then forces Logan to watch him sexually torture Jessica. Logan escapes and proceeds to kill Box.
  • In the movie, the Sandmen used a pistol which fired an incendiary charge that killed the Runners. In the novel, Sandmen were assigned a revolver-style gun, limited to six shots but far more versatile than that in the film. Each gun would only work for a specific Sandman's hand print, and would explode if anyone else tried to use the weapon (as with the "Lawgiver" handguns in Judge Dredd). The gun can be reloaded with new cartridges which allow for extended use. Each of the six shots in the gun served a different purpose — homer, nitro, vapor, tangler, ripper, and needler — which did the following:
    • Homer fires a charge which seeks out and burns out every nerve in the human body, since it seeks out a body temperature of 37 °C (98.6 °F). Since the homer cannot tell one body from another, the sandman must be exact with his shot, as someone else stepping in front of the homer could divert it.
    • Vapor produces a large gas cloud which irritates the lungs of any one exposed to the vapors (this appears to be a short acting gas).
    • Ripper fires a charge which is designed to rip into the material being fired at (human body, door, etc), which when used on a runner is quite fatal.
    • Needler fires a large number of needles which stick into the object being fired at (human, animal, etc).
    • Nitro fires a large explosive charge which destroys anything it comes into contact with.
    • Tangler produces a large sticky net or web of material which works its way into the surface of anything it comes into contact with; it can be dissolved by regular police with special gear.



  1. ^ a b June 1976 Review of Logan's Run by Roger Ebert
  2. ^ "NY Times: Logan's Run". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-30. 
  3. ^ 1976
  4. ^ Bond, Jeff (2002). Release notes for Logan's Run by Jerry Goldsmith, p. 5 (CD insert notes). Culver City, California, U.S.A.: Film Score Monthly (Vol. 5, No. 2).
  5. ^ Logan's Run, a Science-Fiction Fantasy, a June 1976 review from The New York Times
  6. ^ The Source - Sanctuary of Love, at Discogs

External links

Preceded by
Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film
Succeeded by
Star Wars

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