Directed by: Ridley Scott | Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young | 1982
Guys, we are behind the times.
Apparently we once thought the LA of 2019 might have artificial intelligence nearly indistinguishable from humans, not to mention a rainier climate, flying cars, and off-world colonies. But if that's going to be the case, we have a lot of catching up to do.
Interestingly, the cyberpunk dystopian LA of the future also has computers straight out of the 1980s and people who still read print newspapers.
Blade Runner is a dystopian story wrestling with philosophical and moral questions related to advanced AI, with visually interesting set and costume design and an ending that left some things ambiguous. In other words, this movie was right up my alley.
I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, even though parts felt very dated and the soundtrack was laughably bad. It seemed a bit over-simplified at times, but the questions it raises remind me of those we explored in two of my college literature classes, Utopian Literature and Science & Fiction (both of which were taught by one of my favorite professors).
Blade Runner is, by the way, loosely based on one of those books that's embarrassingly been sitting on my shelf unread: 1968's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.
Dick died the same year the movie came out -- about four months before it was released, in fact. I was curious how involved he was in its production and what his opinion was of how the movie portrayed his story. This is what Wikipedia has to say:
A screenplay had been in the works for years before [Ridley] Scott took the helm, with Dick being extremely critical of all versions. Dick was still apprehensive about how his story would be adapted for the film when the project was finally put into motion. Among other things, he refused to do a novelization of the film. But contrary to his initial reactions, when he was given an opportunity to see some of the special effects sequences of Los Angeles 2019, Dick was amazed that the environment was "exactly as how I'd imagined it!", though Ridley Scott has mentioned he had never even read the source material. Following the screening, Dick and Scott had a frank but cordial discussion of Blade Runner's themes and characters, and although they had wildly differing views, Dick fully backed the film from then on, stating that his "life and creative work are justified and completed by Blade Runner".
Interesting. I'm curious why Scott never read the source material and in what ways he and Dick disagreed, but it sounds like Dick gave a pretty sound endorsement of Scott's vision nonetheless.
I'm not going to get into the meaning of all this eye symbolism; still trying to process it all myself. But it was definitely interesting how often the film came back to images of eyes.
Since I've been pretty harsh on the portrayal of women in some of the other movies, I should add that the love scene in this is pretty rapey and gross.
Thumbnail: Creative Commons image by Ray eye.