Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Guest

Blade Runner (1982)

Recommended Posts

The thing I liked about the movie before Ridley Scott went on his

"Ford's character was also a replicant"

idiocy was that Ford's character

couldn't help but notice that he, as a human, showed all the signs that replicants displayed when trying to fit in -- an emotional remoteness, a penchant for collecting memories, etc. I always thought that the spiritual component of the film was his character's realization of just how thin a line it was between himself and who he was hunting.

Of course, in Dick's book there is an entire substory that was not in the film that dealt with a television show that also a religious movement. That would have been nearly impossible to put in the movie, but I was always curious as to how it would have been managed, had someone tried.

Edited by The Baptist Death Ray

It had a face like Robert Tilton's -- without the horns.

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have the second draft of Blade Runner that I actually prefer to the third, which is pretty much the one we've seen.

The second draft, dated December 22, 1980, was co-written by David Webb Peoples. It does not have the chess game featured in the final film, but it is the most cohesive of the three draft (there are no continuity problems, and the story is virtually complete, with details missing from the final film). Batty and company are known as replicants by this time. Also, a sixth replicant, Hodge, is in the mix; he attacks Batty and Gaff at Leon's flat. Mary is also in this draft; as before, she is killed by Deckard in Sebastian's apartment. Chew is shown after he freezes to death. In this draft, the Tyrell Corporation is called "the Nekko Corporation". Instead of praising Deckard's skills as a Blade Runner, Bryant chastises him for shooting a replicant in public view after Deckard kills Zhora. Leon disguises himself as a Russian in a bar sitting next to Deckard before attacking him; Deckard isn't fooled, but Leon is still faster than him, and Deckard needs to be rescued by Rachael. In this draft, "Tyrell" turns out to be another replicant; after Roy kills him, Roy demands that Sebastian take him to the real Tyrell, and Sebastian reveals that Tyrell has an unnamed disease and is now in hibernation unit awaiting a cure. Roy demands that Sebastian wake Tyrell up, and Sebastian reveals that Tyrell died a year ago; Roy kills Sebastian after learning this. In both of these two drafts, the entire replicant line is put on hold after Tyrell is killed, as Batty is now public knowledge. Bryant reveals Gaff is planning to kill Rachael. In this draft, Batty saves Deckard and lets his lifespan run out. After Deckard returns home, Bryant calls to warn him that Gaff is coming, hinting that Deckard should get out of town. Deckard and Rachael leave town. Rachael asks Deckard to kill her, so another Blade Runner can't do it; Deckard does so. While Deckard is probably human in this draft, he empathizes with the replicants, comparing himself to them at the end, saying "Roy Batty was my late brother."
--IMDb.

Personally, I think this film should stay. There are too many themes that resonate on a spiritual level (that have been adequately but not even close to exhaustively covered in previous posts) to oust it.


[iNSERT SIGNATURE HERE]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
this one (from the journal Film-Literature Quarterly)...

Haven't read the article in entirety yet, but one section leapt out at me (page 3);

22 Dg,er critics have noted the essential brotherwise repulsive to your person?" Of course, this question has a hollow ring to it since she humans and the replicants. Marleen Barr as just come off stage film's funire world defines differ "taking the pleasures of the serpent," but it further resonate human species: humans with her condition as a member of women and replicant kick box squad and Deckard's own enforced role as a by men" runner

That will take some unpacking!

Also, a clarification: "high concept" means it's a simple concept (think story pitches), ie, a premise that is easily encapsulated (orphan farm boy meets mystic and avenges father by destroying millions of people on a space station)

Funny! And a deft reference to the original high concept film.

"low concept" is an approach that is much more complex and difficult to summarize in a single sentence.

Thanks! I've only ever understood (misunderstood) "high concept" to mean "concept-driven" - that the film unfolds in service of a Big Idea, rather than something more human or organic. Guess that's what happens when you derive your definitions by intuition rather than reality! Good to know better, now.

its emphasis on theme over plot is, as Leary says, very unusual for an American film and has allowed it to shed spiritual/ethical light on all sorts of contemporary issues, including technology (genetics--great book links, (M)), the marginalized/oppressed of society (AIDS victims and women), and economics/advertising, just to name a few.

I think it's the second of those three elements where the film connects with me. Once the society depicted in the film has declared its judgement (that replicants are anathema), the viewer immedately engages with the question "Why are they anathema?" (Or at least, contrarian viewers like me tend to do that). The film is very good at both demonstrating and undermining the correctness of that judgement.

(They are overwhelmingly deadly, but perhaps that deadliness only emerges as a response to the judgement, etc, etc.)

As you might know, one of the screenwriters was David Webb Peoples, who went on to write Unforgiven, and the two films contains many interesting parallels in their stories of retired and cynical gunslingers who have called upon to perform one last act of "justice."
Edited by Ron

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ron wrote:

: In the back of my mind is the ideat that Tarkovsky disliked 2001 - any substance to that?

I think this was addressed in the Solaris thread (or one of its predecessors).

Which I can't read yet, since I've seen neither of the films. Ah, the glories of revelation that await!


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doug C wrote:

: Not sure I understand your distinction, but I guess to each his or her own when it

: comes to finding a film "spiritual" or not.

FWIW -- and I don't want to assume that this is how Ron would define the difference -- I think it may be kind of like how The Matrix was a "philosophical" film that got mistaken for a "spiritual" film simply because it expressed its philosophy in mythological terms. "Philosophical" films deal with ideas, "spiritual" films deal with something more, well, spiritual.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I perceive this as a movie that's driven by philosophical concept (the nature of humanity, bioethical conundra, etc), and there are people for whom that provides spiritual interest / significance.

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Doug C wrote:

: Not sure I understand your distinction, but I guess to each his or her own when it

: comes to finding a film "spiritual" or not.

FWIW -- and I don't want to assume that this is how Ron would define the difference -- I think it may be kind of like how The Matrix was a "philosophical" film that got mistaken for a "spiritual" film simply because it expressed its philosophy in mythological terms.

Edited by Ron

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The thing I liked about the movie before Ridley Scott went on his

"Ford's character was also a replicant"

idiocy...

Really? That's in the film? Completely missed it. And yes, if it's in there, it really is a mistake.

was that Ford's character

couldn't help but notice that he, as a human, showed all the signs that replicants displayed when trying to fit in -- an emotional remoteness, a penchant for collecting memories, etc. I always thought that the spiritual component of the film was his character's realization of just how thin a line it was between himself and who he was hunting.

Excellent. That relates to the theme Doug mentioned about marginalized people. Definitely the aspects of the film that speak to me most powerfully - and, for me, come closest to elements of the gospel. Indeed, I find that any theme Jesus talked about, or to a lesser degree that other New Testament writers dealt with, inevitably seems distinctly "spiritual" to me. Another angle on the "What spirituality means to me" theme. (Or was that "entropy"?....)

Edited by Ron

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
One more thing, while the film does indeed have its connections to Frankenstein (considered the first SF novel ever written), like that brilliant novel, the film is probably less concerned with the act of "playing God" than it is with the act of creative irresponsibility and abandonment. 

I guess that's pretty much exactly what I mean about "playing God." We sub-creators often glory in our powers to create (and by so doing, express the image of our Creator), but we corrupt that gift into sin when we use it irresponsibly and fail or abandon our creations / creatures. Which we inevitably do, if the scope of our creating exceeds ethical boundaries and/or the limits of our compassion or our capability to deal with the consequences of our creation.


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ron wrote:

: (A tidbit for you, Peter: when I heard Daniel Amos in concert in the spring of 1985,

: and ate Chinese Food with them backstage during the other band's set, I picked up

: a single by one of the band members, one side of which was "Something's Going

: On Here." That song always evoked for me the same sense of mystery and spiritual

: awakening that I later found in THE MATRIX).

Is this that Rob Watson single? I don't think I know that song, though I believe the song on the flip side ended up on a compilation CD.

: And it did so in a style I found so thrilling - I'd been waiting for literally years for a

: film to come anywhere close to rendering that William Gibson world and style I

: have such an affinitiy for, and there it was!

A point many critics made at the time, especially since -- ironically -- Keanu Reeves had appeared a few years earlier in a flawed adaptation of Johnny Mnemonic that was produced by Gibson himself!

: I wonder if Doug and Mike's enthusiasm for 2001, say, has to do with a similar sort

: of experience. . . . So even though I'd argue that 2001 is more subverting than

: celebrating, that doesn't change the fact that they read against that particular grain,

: that the film made spiritual connections for them quite apart from the "intention" of

: the film makers.

Actually, the "subversive" elements of 2001 are one of the things I like about it -- though not the film's potential to subvert religion so much as its potential to subvert the utopian idealism of certain people at that time. Kubrick caught a bit of flak for putting a corporate logo on a rocket, because a lot of people assumed humanity would grow out of capitalism, but Kubrick (correctly) said we would NOT grow out of it. Likewise, one of the recurring themes in 2001 is that our technology is an outgrowth of our violent, competitive natures -- and our technology will inherit our proclivity for violence -- which might have rubbed some "science will save us" types the wrong way.

It HAS been pointed out that one of the messages of the film is that we will need to transcend our bodies -- the wine ("spirit") will have to come out of the glass (or "vessel", and spaceships are basically extensions of our own bodies) -- if we are ever going to be able to live and thrive beyond the confines of our world. And I suppose there might be something "spiritual" about that. But it sounds more metaphysical than "spiritual" to me -- not to mention a tad Gnostic, to boot.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

BTW, Baptist Death Ray, I loved your comments here.

Ron wrote:

: The Baptist Death Ray wrote:

: : The thing I liked about the movie before Ridley Scott went on his

"Ford's character

: :

was also a replicant"

idiocy...

:

: Really? That's in the film? Completely missed it. And yes, if it's in there, it really is a

: mistake.

I believe Ford and Scott disagree on this point, but yeah, it's implied in the "director's cut", because

Deckard has a dream about a unicorn, and then that other guy leaves an origami unicorn behind at the end of the movie -- and how would he know what Deckard was dreaming if he didn't have some insight into Deckard's programming

?


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Read the Blade Runner section of John Fischer's book Real Christians Don't (with the Don't crossed out) Dance.  The Christ(ian) imagery in the building scene is enough to make it rank. Seriously.

I found the book on Fischer's website, but clicked on all the chapter links and couldn't find anything on BLADE RUNNER. Could it be another of his books?


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not too worried about spoilers here.

Haven't read the article in entirety yet, but one section leapt out at me (page 3);
22 Dg,er critics have noted the essential brotherwise repulsive to your person?" Of course, this question has a hollow ring to it since she humans and the replicants. Marleen Barr as just come off stage film's funire world defines differ "taking the pleasures of the serpent," but it further resonate human species: humans with her condition as a member of women and replicant kick box squad and Deckard's own enforced role as a by men" runner

That will take some unpacking!

Especially since it's not written in English!

I think it's the second of those three elements where the film connects with me.
Edited by Doug C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I guess that's pretty much exactly what I mean about "playing God."
Edited by Doug C

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I believe the specific example Doug C has in mind is Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. smile.gif


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But on a very basic level, isn't that sort of the point of there BEING a difference between the hero and the villian? The hero is able to overcome his flaws and attempt to do what is right, even if he is inclined not to do so -- that is what makes him a hero. The villian, on the other hand, is not.

I can't see anything wrong with using that device in a story.


It had a face like Robert Tilton's -- without the horns.

- Steve Taylor, "Cash Cow"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I guess that's pretty much exactly what I mean about "playing God."

I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, in the spirit of full disclosure, Blade Runner is and has always been one of my favorite movies of all time. Every time I return to it, I find something new to chew on.

I'll try to reply to several discussions on this thread.

Regarding high concept/low concept:

Pure science fiction (as opposed to Space Opera ala Star Wars) is extremely difficult to do because it is primarily about ideas. Abstract ideas are difficult to film. I imagine this is why some of the best "pure" science fiction films 2001, Blade Runner, etc. are also not real crowd pleasers and at times can be downright boring.

Regarding the setting and PKD's book:

I always thought the film's setting was closer to that of Phillip K. Dick's book The Unteleported Man, which was a large overcrowded city. (It might have even been Los Angeles in the book --- its been awhile since I read it.)

Regarding Christian symbolism:

1. You cannot get a more graphic picture of humanity and the Fall than the scene in which Roy meets his creator (Tyrell even refers to him as the returning "prodigal son"). The ultimate outcome of that encounter is that Roy kills him. When we humans were able to meet our Creator face-to-face, we ultimately killed Him as well.

2. The final scene has already been well discussed on this thread. You have Roy redeeming himself by "turning the other cheek" and saving the life of his enemy -- complete with a nail-pierced hand! He dies peacefully, releasing a dove, which flies into the film's only clear view of the sky (heaven). Some may find the imagery contrived. However, at that moment Roy is demonstrating more humanity than Decker ever has. Who better to picture Roy as than the perfect human, Christ?

3. I like the fact that the "hero" of the film is constantly needing to be rescued. Decker clearly demonstrates how frail and fragile humanity is and our own need to be saved from our misery. It reminds me of Frodo Baggins, who is a most unlikely hero as demonstrated by his constant need of rescuing.

Regarding the ties to Frankenstein:

Clearly there are a lot of overlaps in themes (many of them spiritual) between Blade Runner and the original novel Frankenstein: what makes a person human; humanity vs. technology; the hubris of humanity. What's interesting is that I believe Shelley is borrowing heavily from the old Jewish myth of the Golem (i.e. a created being that is magically brought to life but eventually turns on its creator).

In summary, I believe that Decker's quest to hunt down these "quasi-humans" really becomes an existential awakening to his own humanity. That sounds pretty spiritual to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for weighing in, Anthony. I really can't wait to watch this one again, now!

Regarding the setting and PKD's book:

I always thought the film's setting was closer to that of Phillip K. Dick's book The Unteleported Man, which was a large overcrowded city.

Glad you brought this up again. Yes, I remember Electric Sheep taking place in an underpopulated city. And while the streets of BLADE RUNNER definitely teem, the film manages to have it both ways, with that cybernetics guy living in a great big building with no other tenants. Very effective.

Regarding the ties to Frankenstein:

...I believe Shelley is borrowing heavily from the old Jewish myth of the Golem (i.e. a created being that is magically brought to life but eventually turns on its creator). 

Interesting indeed! I'll have to dig into that a bit more as well. I believe there's an Amos Gittai film called "Golem"?


I've posted a couple hundred of my Soul Food Movies write-ups at letterboxd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, Anthony, thanks for chiming in. I particularly like your point about the Golem. Probably a better cinematic connection to Blade Runner than Gitai's film would be Paul Wegener's 1921 movie The Golem; its German expressionism can be traced right through Frankenstein to noir to Blade Runner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It occured to me when reading your post that what initially struck me as "cheap" and rather cheesy in Alphaville may have been a more deliberate attempt to create a world of the future (like Tarkovsky's world of the past) that is not such much accurate in its details as non-distractingly neutral enough that it can convey a sense of a different place yet still allow the viewer to inhabit it rather than stand apart from it.  It's the difference between experiencing a glimpse of a different world vs. keeping it at arm's length and deriving some sterile satisfaction from reading, say Michaelangelo's grocery list or some other historical artifact--hey this is mundane and boring as heck, but it's ACCURATE.

Ken, this and the Tarkovsky quote makes me think of something that the french director Bertrand Tavernier said somewhere -- that in most period films the actors make the mistake of treating the details as holy relics, thus drawing attention to the "painstaking attention" and expense that immediately breaks the illusion. Tavernier says that people should sit in chairs as if they were chairs and not something out of a museum.

And Tavernier is himself a master of this neutral effect -- I always feel that I'm watching a modern documentary film crew eavesdropping on something in the past. He also did a sci-fi film called Deathwatch, which is set in the "future-present" where little particular effort is made to convince us that we have arrived in the future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would be interesting to contrast the world of Blade Runner to the minimalistic, low-budget setting of Lucas' early THX 1138, which I believe (although I have not yet seen it) would be an excellent example of a cinematic take on science fiction which requires, as Ken has said, the audience to inhabit the world and imagine many of the specific details.


That's just how eye roll.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, the original cut of THX 1138 would be an excellent example of a cinematic take on science fiction which requires the audience to inhabit the world (in actuality, the unopened BART tunnel in San Francisco) and imagine many the details of that world; the new cut, of course, removes that with CGI additions everwhere, making it look like every other movie these days.

The best thing about the original film was precisely its documentary-like, real-world evocation of the future and its sound design by Walter Murch. Lucas' framing is self-consciously oblique and "arty", which is fun for a while, but gets pretty old lacking any thematic context, and the film's ideological mumbo jumbo, sedated characters, and oppressive violence is cold and mechanical. If you've seen the trailer, you've seen all the good bits.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It occured to me when reading your post that what initially struck me as "cheap" and rather cheesy in Alphaville may have been a more deliberate attempt to create a world of the future (like Tarkovsky's world of the past) that is not such much accurate in its details as non-distractingly neutral enough that it can convey a sense of a different place yet still allow the viewer to inhabit it rather than stand apart from it.
This is an excellent observation, Ken, and I do think it accurately describes what Godard was trying to do with the film--make contemporary Paris "the future" while avoiding special effects and typical SF signifiers like spaceships, ray guns, aliens, and diagonal zippers. So much of the New Wave was showing that movies could be made without an army of technicians and professional studios, and Alphaville is anextension of that idea in the most "artificial" of genre settings, the science fiction film.

Lucas once talked about making THX-1138 a "documentary of the future" and I think all three films are interesting comparisons in this regard. Blade Runner uses a surprisng amount of handheld, cinema verit

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think this is the case for many critics, Christian and non, and stems from a pretty cursory technological reading of the genre.  I, for one, lost pretty much all of my interest in special effects for its own qualities or verisimilitude many years ago; I can still appreciate beautiful compositions and genuine imagination, but things like scale and detail and masses of visual designs don't impress me anymore.
So often, the refrain is, "Wow, we've never seen this before!" Sure, but the supplementary question is almost never asked: it worth seeing?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...