No Blade of Grass (1970)

No Blade of Grass (1970), produced and directed by Cornel Wilde.

Midway between Panic in Year Zero! (1962) and Mad Max (1979) we find this bleak eco-catastrophe and violent survival film.

When pollution causes a world-wide plague that kills crops and poisons farm animals, civilization rapidly collapses and it is the war of all against all. In England a family (quite plausibly) watches the progress of the disaster on television until it reaches them, then try to escape the city and get to a fortified farm up north.

Riots, murder, scrambling for guns and food. At first they fight gangs of thugs, but eventually the decent people are killing each other. As you must expect from the genre, the wife and daughter are both raped by a motorcycle gang, a more brutal and explicit scene than in the earlier film. Darwinian behavior emerges as the daughter changes boyfriends, switching to a tougher character better able to protect her.

It's definitely an eco-message movie, with constant visual hectoring about pollution and dead animals. The acting: well, I've always liked Nigel Davenport, distinguished in an eyepatch.

The editing style uses a confusing mix of flash-backs and flash-forwards with sudden color bursts. Sometimes this actually contributes to the story, as when two childbirth scenes are contrasted. Both show the suffering of the mothers, but in the "past" it is in a clean hospital with helpful staff, resulting in a healthy baby girl. In the "present" it is a shabby shack where no one knows what do, result: stillborn baby.

As I said: bleak. The only encouraging thing I can extract is that it shows people who don't give up, who will fight to survive and even show loyalty in building a new community. But they are savage along the way. It's something of an anti-adventure film. Descendents of the survivors will have to build the exciting myths of the passage through the dark times.

Warner Archive DVD-R.