An ongoing account of my return to the old school role playing game world and all things related thereto.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
No Blade of Grass: Neither a Whimper, nor a Bang
It is often said that everything happens for a reason and nothing completely happens as a result of pure chance.
I’m not sure I really believe this saying but some of my experiences from last weekend seemed to reinforce it. Apart from the fact that I decided to pick up the trade paperback version of Dead Run, I also found myself with a rare moment of free time last Saturday night allowing me to tune in on the SF movies being aired on Turner Classic Movies.
As it turned out, the movies aired that night had that post-apoc feel to them, and were great inspirations for Mutant Future. I caught the middle of Soylent Green. and sat through it. The unforgettable images of an overpopulated and sweltering alternate New York City really had an effect on me, notwithstanding the fact that I must have seen Soylent Green repeatedly since I was a kid.
Nikos, one of my Mutant Future players pointed out to me that Soylent Green wasn’t strictly a post-apoc story but rather one of a dystopian society. In a sense, he’s right. I’ll concede to that, with the qualification that the world in Soylent Green is bound to implode in a very nasty apocalypse sooner than later eventually turning the story into one which is post-apocalyptic in nature.
The second movie was something I saw for the first time. It was No Blade of Grass – a 1970 screen adaptation of John Christopher’s novel from the 1950s. I haven’t read the book yet, but after seeing the movie, I must say I that I have a hankering to go after it soonest.
No Blade of Grass deals with a simple but deadly problem which suddenly confronted the human race: a mutant virus appears to have spread (ostensibly from Asia) and caused the mass death of food crops everywhere. The movie is set in the UK and deals with the story of a family fortunate enough to escape London before the chaos becomes widespread and whatever remains of law and order as we know it swiftly erodes away. The protagonists then make their way across the English countryside in the hopes of reaching the safety of a secluded farm owned by a relative. They inevitably get caught up in the anarchy that takes hold everywhere.
This particular apocalypse can’t be said to be a bang like the ones resulting from say, a meteor strike or a thermonuclear war. I can’t exactly say that society as we know it was ending with a whimper in No Blade of Grass (as one might imagine in movies like 28 Days Later or the Omega Man). I’d say as end of the world stories, go, No Blade of Grass stands somewhere in between a bang and a whimper.
Nonetheless, the epic trek of the protagonists in No Blade of Grass to find safety is something right out of a good role playing game. Getting guns to get even more guns and dodging everything from rogue military units to biker thugs is just some of the really interesting things one gets to see in the movie. Eventually, the movie’s protagonists (who are all civilians) end up toting bolt action mausers, shotguns and hunting rifles – something that seems rare in post-apoc movies today where a lot of gratuitous military firepower seems to be the rule. One of them managed to get his hands on a Sterling submachinegun early on in the story but had to ditch it.
I wouldn’t mind getting myself a copy of this movie. Seeing how I liked it, my wife remarked that my age was showing through as evidenced by my apparent preference for 1960s to 1970s movies. I wouldn’t be surprised if my new players (some of whom are about half my age) will eventually say the same thing.
An avid student of military history, fantasy and science fiction as well as a self-professed aficionado of role playing games rendered in the old-school style. Existence in the mundane world is punctuated with sheer moments of joy when gaming or blogging, for which there seems to be never enough time these days.