Posted 26 August 2004 - 09:53 PM
Posted 27 August 2004 - 10:08 AM
And to think that Dick hated the idea of the film in the first place.
Posted 06 October 2004 - 11:00 PM
Posted 07 October 2004 - 09:26 AM
Posted 14 August 2005 - 02:35 AM
(Here is the rough block of a first draft blurb I put down when the movie ended)
Straightforward story about a futuristic bounty hunter who must track down and destroy four escaped replicants – human-like androids, "more human than humans," with superior intelligence and physical abilities but primitive emotional development, their life spans limited to four years. More atmosphere and style than story or (I think) substance – sometimes the pace is glacial, but it all looks great, film noir in a decaying, futuristic Los Angeles. There's some Frankenstein-esque business about replicants meeting their maker, which I suppose shows that humans who tinker with the godlike business of creating life make of themselves nothing but false gods. Something else about one of the replicants showing compassion, and thus becoming I suppose a mad Christ figure – there's explicit symbolism along those lines. I didn't find either of those themes convincing – a bit laboured, a bit "who cares." But there's also a theme of mortality, of choosing to love in the face of inevitable death, that lands better. For me, it doesn't add up to enough to make this a Soul Food Flick of the first (or even second) rank, though I do get a big kick out of this pre-Gibson cyber punk world, in all its high-tech low-life smoke and grime. But BLADE RUNNER was chosen as one of the original A&F 100: apparently spiritual sci-fi fans who like their religion high-concept, philosophy filtered through grunge and style, think more highly of it in that regard than I do.
P.S. Note to thread cops: there are a couple BLADE RUNNER related threads, but nothing directly tackling the film itself, at least not with respect to its A&F 100 status. That's why I started a fresh one.
Posted 14 August 2005 - 02:41 AM
Posted 14 August 2005 - 09:35 AM
"More atmosphere and style than story or (I think) substance"
I have always thought Blade Runner to be sci-fi storytelling in full-tilt, so I suppose we will have to agree to disagree on this one. This is one of Dick's better long works, coming from almost right in the middle of one of his more fertile soft sci-fi stages. Scott seems to nail Dick's vision really well. A lot of critics share your opinion however. It really is startling to come across such a meditative American film as this, it is hard to know what to make of it.
"There's some Frankenstein-esque business about replicants meeting their maker, which I suppose shows that humans who tinker with the godlike business of creating life make of themselves nothing but false gods."
I can see your point here, but it may be more Fukuyama than Frankenstein. (Or maybe even Hayles.) In the past it was difficult to think of bioethical issues in theological terms, but those tides are changing and I bet we could react spiritually to films like Blade Runner now the same way we could to things like Blue or The Apostle when those films came out.
"Something else about one of the replicants showing compassion, and thus becoming I suppose a mad Christ figure – there's explicit symbolism along those lines."
Can you flesh this out a bit?
"But BLADE RUNNER was chosen as one of the original A&F 100: apparently spiritual sci-fi fans who like their religion high-concept, philosophy filtered through grunge and style, think more highly of it in that regard than I do."
Compared to something like The Matrix, this film is fairly lo-fi as far as "concept" and "philosophy" are concerned. I probably voted for this one, but certainly not because I like my "religion high-concept" or my "philosophy filtered through grunge and style." (Though after some thought, isn't "high-concept religion" a redundancy?) Blade Runner is the successful adaptation of one of the better takes on what it means to be human by an insightful fiction writer. It tapped into a few key bioethical issues about two decades before they even became relevant, and now many of these issues are being treated as serious theological questions.
The sci-fi genre often gets sidelined by non-fans as irrelevant, as the purely mental playground of closet dorks. But Blade Runner remains every bit as relevant as Stalker or 2001. It gets at the problem of human nature by means of different sets of visual vocabulary and thematic exposure.
Edited by MLeary, 14 August 2005 - 09:51 AM.
Posted 14 August 2005 - 10:32 AM
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); "low concept" is an approach that is much more complex and difficult to summarize in a single sentence. Blade Runner is decidedly low concept, and 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.
And I love the way the film completely inverts the traditional heroic slaughter. 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." Blade Runner was made at the height of Ford's popularity and I have no doubt that the film's twisting of the typical policing paradigm that effectively makes him the bad guy to his morally superior victims by the film's end is one of the major factors in its initial box office rejection. (That and the fact that everyone wanted to watch sentimental tripe like E.T. that summer.)
Blade Runner sets the benchmark for serious cinematic science fiction, and it was thematically/artistically way ahead of its time. It's an astonishing genre film that is finally beginning to receive the accolades it deserves.
Edited by Doug C, 14 August 2005 - 10:41 AM.
Posted 14 August 2005 - 11:00 AM
Edited by Doug C, 14 August 2005 - 11:30 AM.
Posted 14 August 2005 - 11:25 AM
For a couple of years, I ended my English 101 classes by asking my students to write a basic comparison/contrast essay that used two texts of their choosing from different media -- say, a film and a song, or a novel and an essay. To get them started I would show them Blade Runner and ask them to read essays on all kinds of subjects -- technology, the Cold War, colonialism, racism, gender issues, etc. Each day the students would walk into class asking, "Why did you ask us to read this?" Then, after discussing the essay and the film for an hour, they would get it, and they'd also have a better appreciation of the film.
I'm a huge fan of Blade Runner, so take this all with a grain of salt, but I think it's really a remarkable and almost perfectly-harmonic mix of style and content. I still can't believe it was made in an American studio in the early-1980s.
Edited by Darren H, 14 August 2005 - 11:26 AM.
Posted 14 August 2005 - 01:18 PM
Link to 'Phillip K. Dick stories, films' thread.
: P.S. Note to thread cops: there are a couple BLADE RUNNER related threads, but
: nothing directly tackling the film itself, at least not with respect to its A&F 100 status.
I don't think we need separate threads just to discuss A&F 100 status -- and if we do, those threads should probably be in the A&F forum.
Plus, of course, links are always helpful.
FWIW, I've never seen what the big deal is with this film. Like you, Ron, it seems more like an exercise in style than in substance -- I found it "boring", but not "challenging", to coin a phrase. Admittedly, it's been nine-and-a-half years since the last time I saw it, but it's never made much of an impression on me.
And I like Harrison Ford's complaint that he "played a detective who did no detecting."
Posted 14 August 2005 - 02:33 PM
Blade Runner undermines the conventions of the genre so well that it was the victim of its own success. The name, the poster, the star...it all promised action and excitement. People expecting a Harrison Ford Sci-Fi Action Movie will always be disappointed, as most critics were in 1982. But over the years, repeated viewings on video (and Criterion's special edition laserdisc) allowed viewers to set aside their preconceptions and recognize the gem that's there. By the time the so-called "Director's Cut" was released in 1992, it was ripe for reappraisal as a modern classic. (As a young teen, I read Steven Scheuer's movie guide, which gave the film one-and-a-half stars for all its editions of the '80s, calling it "muddled" and "noisy," but in '88, suddenly gave the film four stars and called it "impeccable in every detail.")
But perhaps the film's greatest critic is its producer, Jerry Perenchio (one of Forbes' 100 richest men in America), who remembers it as a temporary blemish on the formation of his multibillion dollar Univision media empire. In fact, he hates the film and its director so much that he refuses to allow Warner Brothers to issue a definitive cut with supplements as a special edition DVD today.
Edited by Doug C, 14 August 2005 - 02:37 PM.
Posted 14 August 2005 - 02:38 PM
: But people expecting a Harrison Ford Sci-Fi Action Movie will always be disappointed . . .
Heck, I'd be satisfied with a decent Harrison Ford Detective-Who-Does-Detecting Movie.
: But perhaps the film's greatest critic is its producer, Jerry Perenchio (one of Forbes'
: 100 richest men in America), who remembers it as a temporary blemish on the
: formation of his multibillion dollar Univision media empire. In fact, he hates the film
: and its director so much that he refuses to allow Warner Brothers to issue a definitive
: cut with supplements as a special edition DVD today.
Wow, interesting. And he isn't interested in selling the property to anyone else, I suppose?
Posted 14 August 2005 - 02:49 PM
Posted 15 August 2005 - 01:29 PM
I've always been interested in the way this film shifted in esteem, and wonder how quickly that re-appraisal set in. In my memory it's seemed that it started gaining momentum just as soon as it fell out of the first run theatres (where it wasn't measuring up to audience expectations set in place by the advertising you mention) and showed up in the revival houses, where folks actually prefer movies that don't fulfill every genre expectation. Then VHS, then laserdisk, then Directors' cut, and somewhere along that evolutionary ladder the film had evolved into a classic.
The novel "Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?" got referenced. I read that back in high school or undergrad. Don't know if I knew of the connection when I saw the movie or not. But when I did find out, it struck me the film was a pretty radical departure. Picked up a number of the given circumstances of the novel (the technological/social structure of its created world) but spun completely its own story within that world. Not too much later I read (and fell in love with) William Gibson's "Sprawl" stories, and feel that (apart from the cyberspace element that's so central), BLADE RUNNER has immense affinities to that world. I note that the Gibson short stories that inaugurated that "high tech low life" world (collected in Burning Chrome) are dated 1981-1985, and wonder if either Gibson or BLADE RUNNER influenced the other, or if it was just something "in the air" at that historical moment. (Certainly those are the elements of BLADE RUNNER that work the best for me, as well as the evocations of that Raymond Chandler world: strikes me that Marlowe does rather less detecting - or at least, successful detecting - than many other detectives, as well. Chandler is far more about mood, language, place, the states of human souls.)
Speaking of the Director's Cut, anybody got any comments? It's been years since I saw The Other Guy Who Isn't The Director's Cut, and the two differences I noticed were that the voice-over had been removed (a shame: I'm a sucker for that first-person hard-boiled stuff, which seems as if it would be in keeping with the Chandler-esque settings and tone) and the ending had been changed:
And thanks for those links, Doug. I'll give them a look later in the day, once my slate of errands has been completed.
Posted 15 August 2005 - 02:29 PM
In the late '80s, I saw the film on VHS, but that version had five minutes of extra footage -- much of it extra gore, IIRC -- that was not in the theatrical version. I believe all five minutes were removed from the "director's cut" and have not been seen since.
I believe I read somewhere that the ending to the theatrical/extended-VHS version was made with leftover footage from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining, but don't quote me on that.
The "director's cut" has at least one shot that was filmed AFTER the movie came out in theatres, no? I am thinking of the unicorn shot, which IIRC was taken from Ridley Scott's later film Legend. If that shot was indeed taken from a LATER movie, then I am reluctant to regard the "director's cut" as definitive.
: There was a part of me that had (and still has) a kneejerk reaction against "director's
: cut" movies. I tended to see them as a cynical way of making money by adding stuff
: that was superfluous or irrelevant. For example I think the original theatrical release of
: The Exorcist superior to the inappropriately named Version I Have Never Seen Before,
: and keep the older DVD for that reason.
Huh. I liked most of the reinstated footage -- especially the conversation between the two priests -- if only because it made the film even truer to the book. And FWIW, I believe the extended version was considered a "writer's cut", not a "director's cut".
Posted 15 August 2005 - 05:58 PM
As the story goes, Gibson did see Blade Runner while he was working on his first novel, Neuromancer, and ran out of the theatre midway through the film because it so closely matched what he was imagining at the time.
One of the things that made The Matrix seem so stale to me when I saw it was having read Gibson's works ten years earlier (and I came to Gibson late). The ideas in it were hardly "new."
The Director's Cut is a funny story. Ridley Scott and company screened a work print (not quite finalized sound and effects) just before release and the audiences hated it, so Warner quickly made a bunch of changes to the film, the two major ones being the voice-over (which, as Ken remembers correctly, Ford intentionally performed flatly) and the "happy ending" culled from helicopter outtakes from The Shining.
In 1992, the Nuart theatre here in Santa Monica (where I see a lot of first-run art films) programmed Blade Runner and the print that was sent to them happened to be the original workprint that Ridley Scott had test screened, and all the Blade Runner fans who attended the revival were amazed with it--and as word spread, began lining up down the street for each subsequent showing.
In typical studiothink, Warners suddenly felt they had to "act fast" and capitalize on the "new found" love of the film (which had been brewing for ten years), and asked Scott to do a Director's Cut. He was working on another film at the time, though, and said it would have to wait, Warner insisted it had to happen immediately, so Scott said if they dropped the ending, reinstated the unicorn footage he filmed in 1981, and dropped the voiceover, he'd allow them to call it a "Director's Cut," which they did. But it was definitely a rush job and not a complete restoration of his original cut.
Edited by Doug C, 15 August 2005 - 06:05 PM.