Malthus at the movies: science, cinema, and activism around Z.P.G. and Soylent Green

Jesse Olszynko-Gryn, Patrick Ellis

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This article investigates cinema’s engagement with the Malthusian movement to control global overpopulation in the long 1960s. It examines the contested production and reception of Z.P.G.: Zero Population Growth (Michael Campus, 1972) and Soylent Green (Richard Fleischer, 1973) to shed new light on the nexus of science, activism, and the media. It argues that the history of the movement, usually reconstructed as an elite scientific and political discourse, cannot be fully understood without also taking into account mass-market entertainment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-69
Number of pages23
JournalJCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2018


  • counterculture
  • environmentalism
  • film history
  • overpopulation
  • reproduction
  • science fiction

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