Science Fiction Classics – Bladerunner
Perhaps starting a science fiction classics series about a work as troubled as Bladerunner may seem a strange choice to some, but it contains some clever ideas and what is science fiction if not a world of ideas?
Bladerunner the Movie
Bladerunner performed poorly at the box office at time of release, despite being radically altered “to improve sales” from the director’s (Ridley Scott) initial intentions. In fact Ridley Scott initially declined to direct the movie preferring to work on Dune instead. It was only after his brother’s death and work on Dune coming to a halt that he agreed to work on a revised script for Bladerunner. I am glad he did eventually agree to direct though, his work is excellent.
The studio alteration of the movie is what has given rise to the many “Directors Cut” type releases.
The movie was nominated for two Oscars and fifteen other awards, winning nine; including a Hugo and a BAFTA. So why did it do so badly at the box office? Well, it certainly wasn’t because of the cast which included Rutger Hauer (Roy Batty), Daryl Hannah (Pris) and Harrison Ford in the lead role as Deckard – The Bladerunner.
Perhaps the pictures problems were caused by a gap between audience expectation and the actual content of the film. Movie sci-fi in the early 80’s was all about lasers and showy special effects, probably due to the after effects of the massive success of movies such as Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980).
Bladerunner is by contrast a careful, emotional movie about the value of life, both human and machine. Most of the action takes place in moody, dark scenes in which rain seems to be a constant factor. For all that, the movie is not depressing as might be assumed.
Bladerunner asks a simple question: If robots were so advanced that you could not tell them from humans; whose life would be considered more important? Perhaps this was too much for an audience expecting a space opera?
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, do so. It can be bought these days for the price of a beer (basic edition).
Bladerunner the Book (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
Bladerunner is based upon the novel by Phillip K. Dick, “Do androids dream of electric sheep?”
The book has a different feel to the various different editions of the movie and I can see why it was altered for the mass market. It is not that it is a bad book, far from it, but I feel that the direction and feel of Dick’s book is different from the film. Apparently, shortly before his death, Dick said that “It was my own interior world. They caught it perfectly.”, so what do I know?
Holden: Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about… your mother.
Leon: My mother?
Leon: Let me tell you about my mother.
[Leon shoots Holden with a gun he was holding under the table]
My personal favourite quote (movie)
Roy: I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain… Time to die.
That quote is, for me, the essence of the movie. If you haven’t seen it I won’t spoil things and tell you why…