Oliver Reed and Geraldine Chaplin star in this dystopian vision of things to come. Under the weight of overpopulation, human society has begun to self-destruct. A policy of Zero Population Growth is forced upon citizens in hopes that twenty years without new births will right the sinking ship that is our planet. Couples are issued dolls to take the place of children, and neighbors are encouraged to speak out about any illicit breeding. Reed and Chaplin play a couple that make the decision to subvert the will of the government and have a child of their own. They're soon forced to hide their crime from big brother, baby-snatchers and even those they had trusted most. Zero Population Growth
follows in the tradition of Logan's Run
and Soylent Green
in making it endlessly entertaining to watch a world that we wouldn't want to live in.
It is too easy to underrate the great number of important Science Fiction films the British Cinema has produced and even when they have not dated as well as they could have (1936 s The Shape Of Things To Come
a primary example) the influence and innovation is enormous and some gems seem to get lost along the way. One of them is Michael Campus Z.P.G. Zero Population Growth
(1971) about a corporatized police state where pollution and massive birth have caused the world to collapse.
People have to wear masks to walk anywhere and life is managed electronically in too many ways, reducing the individual to cogs, but now the state has decided that there are too many people and childbirth is illegal. It is also punishable by death. One couple (Oliver Reed and Geraldine Chaplin) try to follow this law, one that people help the state enforce by harassing and beating anyone they catch with a real baby. The state offers sick robotic ones (you have to see to believe) in place of the real thing, but Carol (Chaplin) cannot take it anymore. She becomes pregnant and they do what they can do to hide it.
No one suspects at first, including their neighbors (Diane Cilento, Don Gordon) who are supposed to be their friends, but they will only be able to keep things secret so long before either the state and those brainwashed by them to hate and kill them or they can find a way to find asylum and get to another part of the decimated planet where they can live in peace and raise their child. This is a dark work that some will have a hard time handling, arriving the same year as A Clockwork Orange and THX-1138 (the one before Lucas digitized it), but it is worthy of those classics and deserves to be rediscovered as the genre classic it is. [...]
For all intents and purposes, you could consider this a Horror film and a political one, the later of which might be the reason it was out of circulation for so long. But now, the film is finally available to be rediscovered and is strongly recommended for all serious film fans.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image is not bad for its age, the elements are in decent shape, but this is still a little softer than one would like and though color can be consistent, depth is also compromised. The stocks used are EastmanColor and the British labs and locations add to the sense of visual darkness in profound ways. Director of Photography Michael Reed, B.S.C., is known for his work on British TV (The Saint, The New Avengers) as well as for the Hammer Studios and on the James Bond classic On her Majesty s Secret Service. He brought, along with Mikael Solomon on some shots, create a dark, dense atmosphere that is intentionally claustrophobic and creates the film s own cold, inescapable world. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is compressed a bit, but is still audible and Johnathan Hodge s score is a big plus. There are sadly no extras. --Nicholas Sheffo of FulvueDrive-In.com