Jump to content

Blade Runner


  1. Directed by: Ridley Scott
  2. Produced by: Michael Deeley
  3. Written by: Hampton Fancher
    David Webb Peoples
    Philip K. Dick
  4. Music by: Vangelis
  5. Cinematography by: Jordan Cronenweth
  6. Editing by: Marsha Nakashima
    Terry Rawlings
  7. Release Date: 1982
  8. Running Time: 117
  9. Language: English

Clips

  1. A&F Discussion Thread
  2. IMDb.com
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Netflix

Rick Deckard: She's a replicant, isn't she?
Dr. Eldon Tyrell: I'm impressed. How many questions does it usually take to spot one?
Deckard: I don't get it, Tyrell.
Tyrell: How many questions?
Deckard: Thirty, forty, cross-referenced.
Tyrell: It took more than a hundred for Rachael, didn't it?
Deckard: She doesn't know.
Tyrell: She's beginning to suspect, I think.
Deckard: Suspect? How can it not know what it is?

1. The City of Angels

The Tyrell Corporation's buildings rise out of the Los Angeles basin in a steel-and-glass riff on ancient Mayan pyramids. Skyscrapers, crammed together in downtown Los Angeles, seem, from street view, to be endless. This future city certainly borrows from preceding visions, particularly the utopian city in Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927), notable for its verticality and its elevated highways and railways that jut in and around skyscrapers. But the Los Angeles in Blade Runner is still Los Angeles: broad, sprawling, and, most of all, horizontal, as the film's now-famous opening wide shot reveals. Immigration and demographic change have made the city even more diverse, and Chinese dialects have become the city's dominant languages. Industrialization and climate change have cloaked Los Angeles in nearly perpetual rain and darkness; light exists, but most of it is artificial, originating from passing vehicles, spotlights, neon signs, and the twirling reds and blues on police cars. Animals have largely become extinct. "Do you like our owl?" Rachael (Sean Young) asks Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). "Is it artificial?" he responds. She answers definitively, "of course it is." And unlike many futuristic, antiseptic urban spaces in other science-fiction films, the ones in Blade Runner are dirty, worn, dilapidated, and untidy, such as the interior of the Eye Works Laboratory and the hallways and offices of the Bradbury Building. Moreover, this particular vision of Los Angeles illustrates how filmmaking is a collaborative endeavor: not solely the product of director Ridley Scott's imagination (or even that of Philip K. Dick's, who wrote the source material, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), but also the creation of screenwriters Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, art director David Snyder, visual futurist Syd Mead, and a host of special-effects technicians.

2. "Memories. You're Talking About Memories."

Rachael, donning both a hairdo and a suit with padded shoulders that seem to come directly from 1940s American film noir, carries a photograph that she believes is of her mother and herself as a child. The photograph gives her a past, creates a memory. When Deckard is alone with Rachael, he confesses that none of her memories belong to her; they're implants, taken from Dr. Eldon Tyrell's (Joe Turkel) niece. Rachael becomes silent, upset, and sheds tears. "How can it not know what it is?" Recognizing the trauma he's just inflicted, Deckard plays the confession off as a cruel joke and tells Rachael to go home. It's too late. Tyrell was correct after all: Rachael was beginning to suspect that she might not be who she thought she is, and Deckard's confession precipitates an existential crisis, as it would in anyone. Imagine living only to realize that you are someone else.

In Blade Runner, memories lie at the core of individual identity, arising, as they do for humans, from self-consciousness and the operation of that consciousness through the passage of time. Rachael believes she was once a child, that she took piano lessons, that she witnessed the hatching of a spider's egg, that she once sat next to her mother on a porch of the house in which she grew up, and perhaps that the hand-written address on the back of her beloved photograph could say, if necessary, "this is where I once lived." "I think, therefore I am," to quote Renes Descartes, as Pris (Daryl Hannah) does to her friend J. F. Sebastian (William Sanderson). "I remember, therefore I am" might be more appropriate for this film's thematic structure. Consider Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), who, in his final moments, recounts his own genuine memories as evidence of his humanity. "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe." Indeed. 

3. "Commerce Is Our Goal"

Tyrell rationalizes memory implants in these artificial humans, these replicants, by noting their emotional inexperience and their limited life spans. "If we 'gift' them a past, we create a cushion, or pillow, for their emotions." Yet Tyrell's motivations are manipulative and authoritarian: implant memories in replicants so that "we can control them better." Replicants are a supply of off-world slave labor, servants to a form of capitalist progress that prizes the utilitarian and the functional above all else; a form of capitalism that expands, explores, colonizes, takes possession of, extracts from. Control is paramount for a corporation that enslaves artificial humans and then, by design, lets them die. Scott and his screenwriters made the film's political subtext largely implicit, but it's hardly threadbare. "Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it?" Roy asks Deckard. "That's what it is to be a slave." If replicants possess emotions, self-awareness, and sentience, it would follow that they deserve their humanity and, by extension, the right to be free. I'm reminded of a critical moment in Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell (1995), in which the Puppet Master demands political asylum because he (or it) is a "sentient life-form." He echoes Blade Runner when he asserts that individuals are defined by their memories.

4. "More Human Than Human: That Is Our Motto"

Ultimately, Roy Batty's struggle lies not only with his memories, the burgeoning of his self-consciousness, or his political status, but with the fact that, as a creation of a creator, he will not live longer, and he had no consent in this matter. "It's not an easy thing to meet your maker," he says to Tyrell during their fateful meeting. "What seems to be the problem?" Tyrell asks. "Death." In response, Tyrell explains that longevity is a biological and technological impossibility: coding sequences, cellular mutation, ethyl, methane, sulfonate, viruses compounded by more viruses. These realities echo throughout the film: incept dates, morphology, prescribed functions, "accelerated decrepitude," as Pris says to Sebastian. Tyrell explains, "We made you as well as we could make you." Taken beyond the film, one might wonder if God, Mother Nature, human evolution, biology, or any being or process that we might see as our origin, would respond in a similar fashion. "The facts of life." Pris shares Roy's struggle for self-preservation. When Deckard shoots her, she screams and flails and pounds the floor maniacally. It's not pain she's feeling. It's madness, in point of fact. She has reached finality too soon.

-- Michael S. Smith (June 30, 2020)


  1. Directed by: Ridley Scott
  2. Produced by: Michael Deeley
  3. Written by: Hampton Fancher
    David Webb Peoples
    Philip K. Dick
  4. Music by: Vangelis
  5. Cinematography by: Jordan Cronenweth
  6. Editing by: Marsha Nakashima
    Terry Rawlings
  7. Release Date: 1982
  8. Running Time: 117
  9. Language: English

Clips

  1. A&F Discussion Thread
  2. IMDb.com
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Netflix

Rick Deckard: She's a replicant, isn't she?
Dr. Eldon Tyrell: I'm impressed. How many questions does it usually take to spot one?
Deckard: I don't get it, Tyrell.
Tyrell: How many questions?
Deckard: Thirty, forty, cross-referenced.
Tyrell: It took more than a hundred for Rachael, didn't it?
Deckard: She doesn't know.
Tyrell: She's beginning to suspect, I think.
Deckard: Suspect? How can it not know what it is?

1. The City of Angels

The Tyrell Corporation's buildings rise out of the Los Angeles basin in a steel-and-glass riff on ancient Mayan pyramids. Skyscrapers, crammed together in downtown Los Angeles, seem, from street view, to be endless. This future city certainly borrows from preceding visions, particularly the utopian city in Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927), notable for its verticality and its elevated highways and railways that jut in and around skyscrapers. But the Los Angeles in Blade Runner is still Los Angeles: broad, sprawling, and, most of all, horizontal, as the film's now-famous opening wide shot reveals. Immigration and demographic change have made the city even more diverse, and Chinese dialects have become the city's dominant languages. Industrialization and climate change have cloaked Los Angeles in nearly perpetual rain and darkness; light exists, but most of it is artificial, originating from passing vehicles, spotlights, neon signs, and the twirling reds and blues on police cars. Animals have largely become extinct. "Do you like our owl?" Rachael (Sean Young) asks Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). "Is it artificial?" he responds. She answers definitively, "of course it is." And unlike many futuristic, antiseptic urban spaces in other science-fiction films, the ones in Blade Runner are dirty, worn, dilapidated, and untidy, such as the interior of the Eye Works Laboratory and the hallways and offices of the Bradbury Building. Moreover, this particular vision of Los Angeles illustrates how filmmaking is a collaborative endeavor: not solely the product of director Ridley Scott's imagination (or even that of Philip K. Dick's, who wrote the source material, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), but also the creation of screenwriters Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, art director David Snyder, visual futurist Syd Mead, and a host of special-effects technicians.

2. "Memories. You're Talking About Memories."

Rachael, donning both a hairdo and a suit with padded shoulders that seem to come directly from 1940s American film noir, carries a photograph that she believes is of her mother and herself as a child. The photograph gives her a past, creates a memory. When Deckard is alone with Rachael, he confesses that none of her memories belong to her; they're implants, taken from Dr. Eldon Tyrell's (Joe Turkel) niece. Rachael becomes silent, upset, and sheds tears. "How can it not know what it is?" Recognizing the trauma he's just inflicted, Deckard plays the confession off as a cruel joke and tells Rachael to go home. It's too late. Tyrell was correct after all: Rachael was beginning to suspect that she might not be who she thought she is, and Deckard's confession precipitates an existential crisis, as it would in anyone. Imagine living only to realize that you are someone else.

In Blade Runner, memories lie at the core of individual identity, arising, as they do for humans, from self-consciousness and the operation of that consciousness through the passage of time. Rachael believes she was once a child, that she took piano lessons, that she witnessed the hatching of a spider's egg, that she once sat next to her mother on a porch of the house in which she grew up, and perhaps that the hand-written address on the back of her beloved photograph could say, if necessary, "this is where I once lived." "I think, therefore I am," to quote Renes Descartes, as Pris (Daryl Hannah) does to her friend J. F. Sebastian (William Sanderson). "I remember, therefore I am" might be more appropriate for this film's thematic structure. Consider Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), who, in his final moments, recounts his own genuine memories as evidence of his humanity. "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe." Indeed. 

3. "Commerce Is Our Goal"

Tyrell rationalizes memory implants in these artificial humans, these replicants, by noting their emotional inexperience and their limited life spans. "If we 'gift' them a past, we create a cushion, or pillow, for their emotions." Yet Tyrell's motivations are manipulative and authoritarian: implant memories in replicants so that "we can control them better." Replicants are a supply of off-world slave labor, servants to a form of capitalist progress that prizes the utilitarian and the functional above all else; a form of capitalism that expands, explores, colonizes, takes possession of, extracts from. Control is paramount for a corporation that enslaves artificial humans and then, by design, lets them die. Scott and his screenwriters made the film's political subtext largely implicit, but it's hardly threadbare. "Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it?" Roy asks Deckard. "That's what it is to be a slave." If replicants possess emotions, self-awareness, and sentience, it would follow that they deserve their humanity and, by extension, the right to be free. I'm reminded of a critical moment in Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell (1995), in which the Puppet Master demands political asylum because he (or it) is a "sentient life-form." He echoes Blade Runner when he asserts that individuals are defined by their memories.

4. "More Human Than Human: That Is Our Motto"

Ultimately, Roy Batty's struggle lies not only with his memories, the burgeoning of his self-consciousness, or his political status, but with the fact that, as a creation of a creator, he will not live longer, and he had no consent in this matter. "It's not an easy thing to meet your maker," he says to Tyrell during their fateful meeting. "What seems to be the problem?" Tyrell asks. "Death." In response, Tyrell explains that longevity is a biological and technological impossibility: coding sequences, cellular mutation, ethyl, methane, sulfonate, viruses compounded by more viruses. These realities echo throughout the film: incept dates, morphology, prescribed functions, "accelerated decrepitude," as Pris says to Sebastian. Tyrell explains, "We made you as well as we could make you." Taken beyond the film, one might wonder if God, Mother Nature, human evolution, biology, or any being or process that we might see as our origin, would respond in a similar fashion. "The facts of life." Pris shares Roy's struggle for self-preservation. When Deckard shoots her, she screams and flails and pounds the floor maniacally. It's not pain she's feeling. It's madness, in point of fact. She has reached finality too soon.

-- Michael S. Smith (June 30, 2020)

Rick Deckard: She's a replicant, isn't she?
Dr. Eldon Tyrell: I'm impressed. How many questions does it usually take to spot one?
Deckard: I don't get it, Tyrell.
Tyrell: How many questions?
Deckard: Thirty, forty, cross-referenced.
Tyrell: It took more than a hundred for Rachael, didn't it?
Deckard: She doesn't know.
Tyrell: She's beginning to suspect, I think.
Deckard: Suspect? How can it not know what it is?

1. The City of Angels

The Tyrell Corporation's buildings rise out of the Los Angeles basin in a steel-and-glass riff on ancient Mayan pyramids. Skyscrapers, crammed together in downtown Los Angeles, seem, from street view, to be endless. This future city certainly borrows from preceding visions, particularly the utopian city in Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927), notable for its verticality and its elevated highways and railways that jut in and around skyscrapers. But the Los Angeles in Blade Runner is still Los Angeles: broad, sprawling, and, most of all, horizontal, as the film's now-famous opening wide shot reveals. Immigration and demographic change have made the city even more diverse, and Chinese dialects have become the city's dominant languages. Industrialization and climate change have cloaked Los Angeles in nearly perpetual rain and darkness; light exists, but most of it is artificial, originating from passing vehicles, spotlights, neon signs, and the twirling reds and blues on police cars. Animals have largely become extinct. "Do you like our owl?" Rachael (Sean Young) asks Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). "Is it artificial?" he responds. She answers definitively, "of course it is." And unlike many futuristic, antiseptic urban spaces in other science-fiction films, the ones in Blade Runner are dirty, worn, dilapidated, and untidy, such as the interior of the Eye Works Laboratory and the hallways and offices of the Bradbury Building. Moreover, this particular vision of Los Angeles illustrates how filmmaking is a collaborative endeavor: not solely the product of director Ridley Scott's imagination (or even that of Philip K. Dick's, who wrote the source material, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), but also the creation of screenwriters Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, art director David Snyder, visual futurist Syd Mead, and a host of special-effects technicians.

2. "Memories. You're Talking About Memories."

Rachael, donning both a hairdo and a suit with padded shoulders that seem to come directly from 1940s American film noir, carries a photograph that she believes is of her mother and herself as a child. The photograph gives her a past, creates a memory. When Deckard is alone with Rachael, he confesses that none of her memories belong to her; they're implants, taken from Dr. Eldon Tyrell's (Joe Turkel) niece. Rachael becomes silent, upset, and sheds tears. "How can it not know what it is?" Recognizing the trauma he's just inflicted, Deckard plays the confession off as a cruel joke and tells Rachael to go home. It's too late. Tyrell was correct after all: Rachael was beginning to suspect that she might not be who she thought she is, and Deckard's confession precipitates an existential crisis, as it would in anyone. Imagine living only to realize that you are someone else.

In Blade Runner, memories lie at the core of individual identity, arising, as they do for humans, from self-consciousness and the operation of that consciousness through the passage of time. Rachael believes she was once a child, that she took piano lessons, that she witnessed the hatching of a spider's egg, that she once sat next to her mother on a porch of the house in which she grew up, and perhaps that the hand-written address on the back of her beloved photograph could say, if necessary, "this is where I once lived." "I think, therefore I am," to quote Renes Descartes, as Pris (Daryl Hannah) does to her friend J. F. Sebastian (William Sanderson). "I remember, therefore I am" might be more appropriate for this film's thematic structure. Consider Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), who, in his final moments, recounts his own genuine memories as evidence of his humanity. "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe." Indeed. 

3. "Commerce Is Our Goal"

Tyrell rationalizes memory implants in these artificial humans, these replicants, by noting their emotional inexperience and their limited life spans. "If we 'gift' them a past, we create a cushion, or pillow, for their emotions." Yet Tyrell's motivations are manipulative and authoritarian: implant memories in replicants so that "we can control them better." Replicants are a supply of off-world slave labor, servants to a form of capitalist progress that prizes the utilitarian and the functional above all else; a form of capitalism that expands, explores, colonizes, takes possession of, extracts from. Control is paramount for a corporation that enslaves artificial humans and then, by design, lets them die. Scott and his screenwriters made the film's political subtext largely implicit, but it's hardly threadbare. "Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it?" Roy asks Deckard. "That's what it is to be a slave." If replicants possess emotions, self-awareness, and sentience, it would follow that they deserve their humanity and, by extension, the right to be free. I'm reminded of a critical moment in Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell (1995), in which the Puppet Master demands political asylum because he (or it) is a "sentient life-form." He echoes Blade Runner when he asserts that individuals are defined by their memories.

4. "More Human Than Human: That Is Our Motto"

Ultimately, Roy Batty's struggle lies not only with his memories, the burgeoning of his self-consciousness, or his political status, but with the fact that, as a creation of a creator, he will not live longer, and he had no consent in this matter. "It's not an easy thing to meet your maker," he says to Tyrell during their fateful meeting. "What seems to be the problem?" Tyrell asks. "Death." In response, Tyrell explains that longevity is a biological and technological impossibility: coding sequences, cellular mutation, ethyl, methane, sulfonate, viruses compounded by more viruses. These realities echo throughout the film: incept dates, morphology, prescribed functions, "accelerated decrepitude," as Pris says to Sebastian. Tyrell explains, "We made you as well as we could make you." Taken beyond the film, one might wonder if God, Mother Nature, human evolution, biology, or any being or process that we might see as our origin, would respond in a similar fashion. "The facts of life." Pris shares Roy's struggle for self-preservation. When Deckard shoots her, she screams and flails and pounds the floor maniacally. It's not pain she's feeling. It's madness, in point of fact. She has reached finality too soon.

-- Michael S. Smith (June 30, 2020)


  1. Directed by: Ridley Scott
  2. Produced by: Michael Deeley
  3. Written by: Hampton Fancher
    David Webb Peoples
    Philip K. Dick
  4. Music by: Vangelis
  5. Cinematography by: Jordan Cronenweth
  6. Editing by: Marsha Nakashima
    Terry Rawlings
  7. Release Date: 1982
  8. Running Time: 117
  9. Language: English

Clips

  1. A&F Discussion Thread
  2. IMDb.com
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Netflix
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...