Blade Runner

Blade Runner #

Blade Runner¹ is a Ridley Scott adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. It is perhaps one of the most popular cult films ever, covering territory from film noir to cyberpunk.

Commissioned by Hollywood in the early 1980’s,Ridley Scott had many conflicts with the producers and felt he was compromising his integrity. The film was not a box office success and so eventually Scott released his own version, a director’s cut on DVD in 1992. This director’s cut received acclaim from his followers and has gained the stature of a cult classic with great financial success and a dedicated following.

The Director’s Cut version differs from the Hollywood original in many critical ways.

The removal of Deckard’s voice over helps us to identify and engage more fully with the characters in the narrative; it draws us in. The unicorn sequences add an ambiguity and enigmatic possibility to the plot while the changed ending, cutting the forest scene, driving into the sunset and replacing it with them in a lift with Gaff’s disembodied voice warning about Rachael’s imminent death leaves us without much hope for the future.

Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, the film has survived close scrutiny and is considered one of the most effective futuristic, cautionary and visionary statements of the past fifty years. As a dystopia (dark future) it uses the glazed cinematic techniques of film noir that tends to distance us from the characters and actions. We become deeply disturbed both emotionally and rationally at what our future could become unless we are prepared to curb our excessive technological advances and our conspicuous consumption of unnecessary goods.

The Hollywood version ended optimistically with Deckard and Rachael riding through a forest into the sunset while the Director’s Cut has Gaff giving an ominous, enigmatic warning about Rachael’s doubtful future.

¹ a term borrowed from William S. Burroughs, 1979, referred to a smuggler of medical supplies, e.g. scalpels.

Guy Rundle on Avatar as the new “Blade-Runner”

It occurs to me that en route to see the present’s latest version of the future, I am rushing through the opening scenes of Blade Runner – the past’s most recent version of the future, now itself surpassed. The ruined rain-drenched city – a post-social world of street survival, the layers of rich and poor literally concretised in different levels – is here now. And as with all dystopias, its coming-to-pass is so mundane that one almost longs for the full horror. So, no replicants, no live mutant snacks, no sexy Tankgirl types, snake entwined. Just hawkers squeezed between the overpass outlets, selling nasi goreng from Tupperware containers.