What is it about Charlton Heston and the end of the World? He’s almost always there…
The Omega Man could be viewed as the second of his doomsday “trilogy” sandwiched between Planet of the Apes (plus Beneath…) and Solent Green and he’s the perfect man for the last man, fiercely determined, a hyper-agitated intelligently competitive survivor who always carries the sadness of his species’ ultimate failure and the thought that he should have done more…
In this way perhaps his famously total support for the right to bear arms connects to the essentially liberal concepts underlying these films: if we don’t clean up our act we’re all doomed and, if we are doomed only men like Charlton will make it through. But Heston was a complex man who supported the Democrats and civil rights in the sixties but later became a Republican claiming that he hadn’t changed the Democrats had… you can never say he wasn’t a man looking for principal.
|Mr Heston and Rosalind Cash|
|Scenes were filmed on early Sunday mornings - trying to catch the city quiet|
It is of course 1975, the near future, and biological warfare between China and Russia has decimated mankind. In Los Angeles U.S. Army Col. Robert Neville, M.D (Heston) seems to be the last man standing having injected himself with an experimental antidote in desperation after his helicopter crashed.
|The last man?|
He goes to the movies and screens Woodstock for himself, reveling in the appearance of the multitudes and mouthing every line along with the new age optimists of the festival… how soon the people disappeared.
|Watching Country Joe and the Fish|
This is a man at war with what remains of the world, holed up under the tightest of security with powerful spotlights trained down from a house locked down from cellar to chimney.
|Charlton and gun|
|Anthony Zerbe and friend|
On one of these expeditions he spots a life-like showroom dummy in the form of Lisa (Rosalind Cash) – there is someone else after all… but she bolts and he runs after her only to lose her in the empty spaces.
|It looks bad for Neville...|
|Dutch on his bike|
|Out on the town|
In truth the scene setting outweighs the rest of the film – the idea of being the last man standing in an empty city is a frightening and compelling one… the freedom more than outweighed by the loneliness. Sagal directs his excellent cats well and mention should also be made of the suitably moody score from Ron Grainer.
|Rosalind Cash is excellent|