So, when this "Replicant" shirt came through the Previews catalogue out of which I order my comic books and assorted merchandise through the great and awesome Fanfare Sports and Entertainment, I ordered one. A "replicant" is the movie name for the beings called androids in the book on which the film is based (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick). The replicants/androids serve only on off-world colonies as slave labor. Many escape to earth to find their creator and a solution to the fixed four-year lifespan. "Blade Runner" is also a term used (again only in the movie) to refer to the bounty hunters that track these androids who have illegally emigrated to earth. I will not repeat the entire plot here. If you don't know the plot, you should watch the movie and read the recaps posted online.
There were many great films from my formative years that would appear on my list of favorites. Over the years, I have seen and loved so many films that I resist making just one list of favorites. I would prefer to make several lists, one for each genre, as I think it's unfair to match great comedies like The Big Chill and When Harry Met Sally against serious dramas, such as Citizen Kane or There Will Be Blood. Certainly, a fantastic film for its time period, like Imitation of Life, must be measured on a different scale from a science fiction genre piece, like The Abyss, or a superhero genre piece, like The Dark Knight. All these films should be rated using separate lists.
But if I was forced to make one list of my top ten favorite films, I would have to put Blade Runner on that list. In fact, I am not sure I can think of a single film that has had a greater effect on me as a writer, a story teller, than Blade Runner. When I calculate the impact of the music on my emotional state and individuality through the years, how many times I have listened to that music, let alone the number of times I have watched the film, read the script, studied the images, read the original book, thought about all of it, Blade Runner has had a greater impact on me as a creative person than any other media product.
I cannot claim that it is the film I have watched more times than any other film. One reason is that I have spent much of my life using films as a teaching tool, especially in media studies classes. Thus, I have seen Fatal Attraction and Pretty Woman as many times as Blade Runner (unfortunately). Also, as a teenager, I binged on visits to the theatre to see Star Wars, which I saw 36 times in its original run and at least a dozen times (and probably more) since then. When Blade Runner came out in 1982, I was in college and very preoccupied, and yet I still managed to see it a half dozen times in the theatre. You have to remember that 1982 was still prior to the truly accessible age of video tape rental or purchase, and so paying admission to see a film in the theatre was really the only way to see it until about 1983-84 when videos began to be sold or rented in small shops, and even so, I didn't own my own VCR until 1986.
I did have the pleasure of teaching Blade Runner along with the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep in several classes in the early years of my teaching career. But eventually, I moved on to films and books that lent themselves better to the course objectives and less to my own personal oeuvre. But I had a lot of fun with the subject matter as a teacher. Back when Blade Runner first came out, I studied all related materials. There were books of art work, a partial book, and both books and magazines devoted to describing and explaining the special effects. I also bought a copy of the shooting script from a script service in California, which was how one obtained unpublished scripts before the Internet existed. I studied all these materials with a great passion.
The film's aesthetics carried greater weight and impact (at least one me) than the film's story and certainly more so than the performances in it. The film combined the talents of concept artist Syd Mead with special effects by Douglas Trumbull and Richard Yuricich. Director Ridley Scott also added many elements both to the visualizations and the film's story and dialogue elements that enhanced the film's overall tone and atmosphere. Scott has referred to the film's landscape as "Hong Kong on a very bad day" and has cited source material, such as Edward Hopper's Nighthawks painting, art work by Europeans such as Moebius from the magazine Métal Hurlant ( known in America as "Heavy Metal"), as well as Fritz Lang's Metropolis film ("Blade Runner," Wikipedia, 2013).
According to the Wikipedia page for Blade Runner, Philip K. Dick ultimately approved of the David People's rewrite of the original script by David Fancher and the 20 minutes of SFX he was shown prior to his death. Dick said,
"I saw a segment of Douglas Trumbull's special effects for Blade Runner on the KNBC-TV news. I recognized it immediately. It was my own interior world. They caught it perfectly." Dick also approved of the film's script, and of it, he said, "After I finished reading the screenplay, I got the novel out and looked through it. The two reinforce each other, so that someone who started with the novel would enjoy the movie and someone who started with the movie would enjoy the novel." The motion picture was dedicated to Dick ("Blade Runner," Wikipedia, 2013).There are some great resources on the web dedicated to Blade Runner. One such resource was the 2019: Offworld site, which has gone into retirement (pun intended by the site's author; BR fans will get it). But I made the link work because there's still a page that archives a lot of Blade Runner content. From that site: "For people looking for extensive, organized Blade Runner sites, I recommend BRmovie.com and BladeZone. They are two of my favorites and are full of information and links. (And I always recommend checking out Wikipedia for entries, including theirs on Blade Runner.)"
Blade Runner continues to have impact on me today, after over 30 years. I could write volumes about my thoughts on this film. But I want to keep this blog post relatively short. But before closing, a couple more things.
Recently, I read a great book called Ready Player One, which had references to Blade Runner among many other references to favorite '80s media. This was a GREAT book, and if you love 1980s geeky media as much as I do (and even if you do not), you must read it. (Basically, everyone should read it.)
The music. I am crazy for the Blade Runner music. Though there are cuts I like more than others, and I listen to those in sorted, special playlists rather than the soundtrack and its arrangement. As a huge fan of the music, I had a difficult time waiting for it. The actual Vangelis music from the film was not released for over a decade. The first music released was a weird interpretation of the score by the New American Orchestra. Yes, I owned it. Yes, I listened to it MANY TIMES. The first authentic Vangelis release of the music came out in 1994 with a trilogy of CDs with the comprehensive music and soundtrack in 2007. I have listened repeatedly and religiously ever since.
Here's my favorite cut, the "Love Theme"
There's nothing better than this.
- chris tower - 1305.21 - 16:13