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ZPG: Zero Population Growth

3.8 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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(Jun 03, 2008)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Oliver Reed, Geraldine Chaplin, Don Gordon, Diane Cilento
  • Directors: Michael Campus
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Legend Films
  • DVD Release Date: June 3, 2008
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0016LFG56
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #87,678 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "ZPG: Zero Population Growth" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Set in a dystopian future, Z.P.G. ("Zero Population Growth") tells the Malthusian tale of a world where the planet's natural resources have been consumed to such a critical level that the "World Federation Council" puts a 30-year ban on childbirth in the hopes of curbing the drain. All pre-edict children are marked, and any births after nine months of the edict result in the summary execution of the lawbreaking parents and their offspring. Throughout the smog-filled landscape, desperate people watch for errant infants they can turn in for extra food or oxygen.

In the world of Z.P.G., people spend their free time going to museums where they can see stuffed house pets, demonstrations of how gasoline was used to fuel vehicles, and films of forgotten relics like lakes and streams. Deprived of children, they also turn to technology for comfort. We first meet Russell McNeil (Oliver Reed, displaying none of his usual screen presence) and his wife Carol (Geraldine Chaplin) at Baby Land, a retail store where adults buy surrogate robot children that are creepy as heck as they slowly amble across the floor chanting, "You're my mummy!"

And while births are forbidden, that doesn't mean sex is discouraged. The government even passes out pornography, and state-funded psychiatrists are on call to encourage good behavior. Unfortunately, post-coitus a woman must check for conception, and she presses a handy-dandy "abort" button if such a misfortune has taken place. Kind of takes the fun out of it.

Eventually Carol can't take it anymore, and she insists on having a child. She's surprised by how supportive Russell is. They come up with an elaborate scheme to hide the child, keeping Carol in a concealed room like Anne Frank.
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Format: VHS Tape
I loved this movie and can't really see what was so awful about it. There are times when movies are given the B rating and people seem to just go along with that. I thought Oliver was fab and that the story was sufficiently Retro Futuristic, A'la 70's style, to totally hook me when I first saw it on late night TV in the early 80's.
I loved the staging and the sets, right down to the funky white (read for sterile) outfits and the sociological fly on the wall insight into the lives of the two protagonists desperate to enrich their seemingly emtpy lives/failing relationship by breaking the ultimate taboo. I guess in many ways I was primed for this kind of thing by reading lots of Ray Bradbury growing up and I adored the stark funky realism of the whole gas and curfew thing!
Let me simply say that if you have an Arty eye towards Sci-Fi and the sociological, loved films like Soylent Green and Farenheit 451 then this movie will not dissapoint you! I loved it and I think *getting it* is what this movie requires from the viewer.
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Format: DVD
This is an early 70's film that takes place in some unknown, futuristic society on earth. One might assume it's a future England, but there are enough Americans to make it seem it could be anywhere and that maybe so far in the future, borders and countries no longer exist. A totalitarian regime rules this society,it's leaders and enforcers hovering above the smog in some sort of flying machine that is all seeing/hearing and issues commands and announcements on a loudspeaker. To stop the total decline of society, birth is outlawed for 30 years and citizens wanting children are issued bizarre walking/talking dolls. Smoke and fog covers almost everything(which helps instead of building expensive sets)and we are shown museums which are propaganda driven to show the "evils" of the 20th century-one shows a family at a Thanksgiving table-with all kinds of burping and sounds of indigestion playing as visitors walk by and recieve lectures on how those indulgences led to the world they have now. A dinner out, in this society has all the choices of the 20th century-just served up in disgusting blobs of artificial protein paste from tubes. People are also allowed to smoke(why not? It's polluted anyway!)and view pornography to keep their minds off of children. One couple(Reed and Chaplin) however wants a child so badly they concieve one anyway and conceal the pregnancy and eventual birth, knowing that ultimately they must escape this society. In a scene that predates the Internet by decades, Reed attempts to gain access to forbidden information at a computer and in a sudden shocking twist, is literally wisked away to a secret room where he's repremanded, and and attempt is made to re-brainwash him to behave himself, but he holds on to his ideals.Read more ›
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Produced at the height of the overpopulation scare, ca. 1970, engendered by the awful propaganda of Paul Ehrlich and his ilk, this movie attempts to take things to their logical conclusion if we really become too scared to reproduce ourselves. Since some are still at it - continuing such scare talk today, including a group which actually calls itself 'ZPG' - it might be worth considering one film's view of where it all leads.
The opening depicts an authoritarian government, apparently global, announcing a decision of how to deal with the crisis of overcrowding, depleted resources, pollution and so forth which were so taken for granted as defining our future that no further explanation was necessary to audiences of 1971. The government decides to reject alternatives such as mass sterilization and "euthanasia" (mass murder), in favor of simply outlawing additional births (for 30 years). Why this was chosen is never discussed, but it sets up the plot and our heroes.
Science fiction enthusiasts won't be impressed with the hardware (government announcements, for instance, are made via flying loudspeaker rather than any kind of broadcast). Homes are equipped with some kind of automatic abortion machine, which cleanly does its job via some sort of invisible rays. At least they don't sugar-coat it, as the button is indeed labeled "abortion."
For a world supposedly suffering overpopulation, the one shown is curiously uncrowded. Couldn't the producer hire enough extras? Where are the crowds?!
One interesting thought the movie puts forth, which never quite occurred to me before, is that in such a world where people are considered a blight, medical cures might actually be unwelcome, as they compound the "problem" by helping keep people alive.
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