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There was a time when everyone understood that ZPG meant Zero Population Growth. And it had nothing to do with this movie.
Z.P.G. was written by Frank De Felitta (AUDREY ROSE) and Max Ehrlich (THE REINCARNATION OF PETER PROUD) and directed by Michael Campus.
It opens with an aerial view of a city so thick with pollution as to be almost invisible. Citizens wearing gas masks walk through the endless haze.
An announcement comes from "The President of our society" (Bill Nagy: FIRST MAN INTO SPACE, GOLDFINGER, BATTLE BENEATH THE EARTH) telling the populace (through giant TV screens and floating loudspeaker drones) that the government has decided on a solution to the overpopulation problem that is destroying the Earth. There will be a thirty year moratorium on having children. Anyone who has children during that period is subject to summary execution, along with their illegal offspring, by slow public suffocation in an airtight dome.
Harsh measures and the population is none too happy, but this is clearly some Euro-police state and people do as they're told. Mostly.
Jump to eight years later. Russ McNeil (Oliver Reed: THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, THE HOUSE OF USHER, THE BROOD, BURNT OFFERINGS) and his wife Carol (Geraldine Chaplin: THE MIRROR CRACK'D, BLOODRAYNE) are in line at the government bureau that hands out robot children* to help fulfill the need people have to be parents. At the last minute Carol changes her mind and they leave. She's deeply depressed and dissatisfied with life. Something is missing.
Russ and the couple's best friends, Edna (Diane Cilento: THE WICKER MAN) and George (Don Gordon: THE EXORCIST III, THE FINAL CONFLICT), all work together at the museum of history where they portray "typical swinger couples from 1971" in a live exhibit. After the show Carol uses the video phone to confess to her psychiatrist that she wants a baby. His reaction is to try to brain wash her out of the idea.
And it really doesn't seem like a good idea, especially after Carol witnesses an angry crowd (mostly women), shouting "Baby! Baby!", point out an offending woman to authorities. The poor woman and her child are executed on the spot and the woman who gave her up to police gets extra rations.
But you can see where this is going. Carol has her baby and she and Russ now have the near impossible job of raising a child in complete secrecy. Can they do it? And more importantly, does the story of their attempt suck?
I'll tell you that in a minute. But first it's time for a
Sure, there have been famines, but only because of corrupt, incompetent governments, not because there were too many people. There are billions more people now than in the 70's and between now and then steady improvements in agricultural technology have made food nothing but cheaper and more plentiful.
This Science Moment is continued at SCIENCE MOMENT/1970s/Z.P.G.
A lot to consider, I know. So let's consider one more thing: was Z.P.G. a good movie? No, it was not. The effects are terrible, the acting wooden, the direction faulty and the cinematography barely watchable. I give it a one on the shriek girl scale.
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