While the subject matter and the world of the story present in Soylent Green is thoroughly fantastic, the themes of the film are far from removed from reality. To a great degree, that is the irony of great science fiction: even if a setting is incredibly far more removed from reality, the film can still provide a unique and realistic point of view into the current world that we live.
In Soylent Green, the population of the world has exploded so much that in order to feed the population the government is rationing a product called “soylent green” to feed the masses.
At the conclusion of the film, the audience learns, as Charlton Heston famously espoused, “Soylent Green is people!”
If anything, what the film presents is the notion that all actions have reactions and consequences. The problem of an overcrowded and overpopulated world will have dramatic problems inherent with such an environment and may require drastic steps to correct. In the case of the film, the drastic steps required involve a complete removal from humanity and morality in order to solve the greater problem.
The message the film leaves us with today is the warning that if we over-consume in an extreme degree and avoid taking the necessary actions of proper conservation, it may lead to great problems down the road that may not have any easy solutions. The concept of ‘cannibalism’ becomes symbolic of how society consumes itself when it centers on greed and self-indulgence to the point of excess.
As such, Soylent Green becomes a cautionary tale that parallels our own environmental over-consumption that has slowly grown to epically problematic proportions in recent years.