The Omega Man
The Omega Man (1971) dir. Boris Sagal

The world is very similar to Planet of the Apes, also starring Charlton Heston, and blogged about earlier.  Man's scientific hubris and warlike nature has brought about the end of civilization.  The planet is now governed by a religious cult, which takes draconian measure to prevent the progression of technology and another doomsday.

Omega Man's rulers aren't apes, but mutants that mimic the Manson Family, whose members were convicted the year of the film's release.  Heston, who wields his firearm technology as a destructive weapon, is captured and tried.  After a private meeting with the Grand Inquisitor, Heston is sentenced for execution, but saved by a couple hippies.

Here's where our stories diverge.  Apes ends on a negative, pessimistic tone.  The hippies are wrong, and the people of the wheel do inevitably bring about destruction.

Omega Man laudably looks for a way out of Hell, but the limited talents of the writers and director falter.  Heston as a Christ figure is given a mawkish, Twilight Zone-esque treatment.  There have been no parallels between Heston and Christ for 95 minutes, but in the last 3 we're pounded over the head with symbol over symbol.

Good idea, but terrible execution.

The Omega Man is the 13th entry in my 45.1 Essential Dystopias list.