They say every story is an alternate version of one theme: either a person comes to town, or a person goes on a journey. I didn’t realize it at first viewing, but the movie Blade Runner would have a huge impact on my life and lead me into an intensive study of whether that theory is true or not. My dad, a total sci-fi geek, came home from seeing it in 1982 (the year I graduated high school) with stars in his eyes. Mesmerizing, he exclaimed. Weird, said my mom (always the more practical of the two). Sweetie, he said, the female character’s name is Rachel.” That alone makes the movie great (actually spelled the wrong way – Rachael – but I’ve long since forgiven that).
So I went with whatever boyfriend I had at the time and sat, mesmerized. The music, Harrison Ford, the colors, Harrison Ford, the clothing, Harrison Ford, the lines! Roy Batty, as he lay dying: All those moments will be lost in time, like tears…in rain. Time to die. Or, quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? (he says to his maker before killing him). That’s what it is to be a slave.
Always a writer, I went home and scribbled the ‘tears’ line. Someday, I wanted to write something as awe-inspiring as that. But more than that, what was it exactly that I was seeing? A love story, an adventure, a journey? Of course, it would later be embraced as the definitive cyberpunk (a term many credit to author William Gibson, indicating post-industrial dystopias known for both high tech and crime-ridden ‘low life’) movie, though none of us watching with fascination really knew about the term. Yet.
I probably went to see Blade Runner at least four more times on my own. All the geeky dudes, and me. Yay. If you read about the history of making the movie, the set was ‘cursed,’ director Ridley Scott a tyrant, and most of the actors miserable (much of the crew referred to the film as Blood Runner). Of course, we didn’t know any of this and really, would it have mattered? Art is a struggle. My dad, a soundscore collector, fell in love with Vangelis’ score (which would take until 1994 to become available in full). I learned to listen more carefully with every viewing. I carried my geek love of Blade Runner with me as I moved on with my life, through college, my first job, and ultimately, back east where I moved for a job promotion.
I met my husband-to-be within three weeks of moving, and we immediately bonded on our first date over our love of that movie. In fact, our first dance at our wedding reception was to the Love Theme, followed by Memories of Green. Ah, geek love. Now Blade Runner has obtained cult classic status, as well as being named one of the top 10 best sci-fi movies of all time; but at the time, it wasn’t considered a commercial success. I still strive to dig deep to find a ‘tears’ line in my own writing. Some women find the movie misogynistic, as Pris is referred to as ‘your basic pleasure model,’ Zhora is a dancer in a strip joint, and Rachael is the helpless femme fatale. But if you look at the genre, those stereotypes fit.
Blade Runner Trivia
(From The IMDb Database)
Dustin Hoffman was Scott’s original choice to play Deckerd, and Dallas actress Victoria Principle as Rachael. Can you imagine? (Interestingly, author Philip K. Dick wrote Rachael with singer/actress Grace Slick in mind.) Oh, and Scott wanted Deborah Harry of Blondie to play Pris.
The movie is based on Philip K. Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?’ which most people already know. What’s interesting is that the title Blade Runner and the term ‘replicant’ are found nowhere in Dick’s work.
The term Blade Runner is actually attributed to author Alan Nourse who wrote a book with that title, and William S. Boroughs is credited for writing a screenplay based on that book – which still isn’t what we see on screen.
Scott originally wanted the movie title to be Gotham City, but couldn’t secure the rights from the Batman creator.
The snake used by actress Joana Cassidy didn’t freak her out because it was her own pet, Darling.
Daryl Hannah (Pris) doesn’t do her own gymnastics (not a total surprise). What is interesting is that the female gymnast they hired was so exhausted from Scott’s habit of hundreds of takes that they recruited a male gymnast at the last moment, which is who we see on film.
The gibberish actor Edward James Olmos (Gaff) speaks is a combination of Hungarian, French and Japanese. Olmos actually came up with this idea of ‘cityspeak.’
There are several plot holes and continuity mistakes, the most obvious (and discussed): Bryant tells Deckard that six replicants escaped from an Off-World colony. One was killed trying to break into the Tyrell Corporation, and the others escaped. However, there are only four replicants in the film (Roy, Leon, Zhora and Pris). If you do the math of Bryant’s dialogue, there should be five. This infamous goof has been corrected in the 2007 Final Cut where Bryant now says that two replicants were killed trying to break into Tyrell’s.
The infamous goof led to all kinds of speculation that Deckerd himself was a replicant, which explains why Bryant refers to him as the best – because he can’t be killed. The issue there of course being incept and termination dates.
Oh my god, I am a total geek.
There are several versions of the film now: with or without narration, the Director’s Cut, and the original of course. I enjoy them all. (I could go on and on. If you want to read more trivia, check out the IMDb Blade Runner database.) Is it dated? Perhaps, as any sci-fi movie made at a certain time inevitably is (check out the sci-fi B movies from the fifties sometime). But the images of our future are a little prescient, methinks (but that’s another article). I watch this movie at least three to four times per year without fail. I’m still not sure which archetype Deckerd is portraying other than (flawed) hero, or if the variation on a theme theory truly applies (I suppose it does, given that the replicants came to town; or that Deckerd goes on a journey – or both).
All I know is that Blade Runner is still inspiring to me, and I hope now to you. There are many cyberpunk movies since which I have enjoyed (Jonny Mnemonic, The Matrix series, even Terminator could fit the bill—all movies I think are pretty bitchin’), but none have reached the pinnacle of coolness that Blade Runner did with regard to expanding our minds (without drugs anyway). For me. Would love to hear your thoughts though!