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On the Edge of Blade Runner
October 29, 2006 2:58 PM   Subscribe

On the Edge of Blade Runner [documentary, google video, 52mins]
posted by MetaMonkey (114 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
So... what is it?
posted by empath at 3:03 PM on October 29, 2006


erm... a documentary about Blade Runner? Is this a trick question?
posted by koeselitz at 3:07 PM on October 29, 2006


Why is it?
posted by TwelveTwo at 3:10 PM on October 29, 2006


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 Tanhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time...like tears...in rain. Time...to die.

/There: I got rid of it. Damn think starts going through my head every time I hear mention of Blade Runner. Best movie scene ever.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 3:17 PM on October 29, 2006


think/thing
posted by Turtles all the way down at 3:18 PM on October 29, 2006


Very nice find. Thank you, MM.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:25 PM on October 29, 2006


There's a massive spoiler at the end of the documentary if any of you care about who shot first.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:29 PM on October 29, 2006


What's a tortoise?
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:32 PM on October 29, 2006


A turtle.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:39 PM on October 29, 2006


The correct answer was: Do you know what a turtle is?

Sheesh!
posted by Chuckles at 3:45 PM on October 29, 2006


Mark Kermode is fantastic, despite his bizarre '50s look. Much more interesting on things like Newsnight Review than the usual wafflers.
posted by matthewr at 3:46 PM on October 29, 2006


I know what a turtle is.

Excellent documentary! And I've just been vindicated--I don't know how many arguments I've had where I've tried to insist that the quote is "tears in rain" not "tears in the rain". And Rutger Hauer, who wrote the words, quoted the former.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 3:52 PM on October 29, 2006


In the first five minutes:
The American people are basically anti-intellectual, they're not interested in novels of idea, and science fiction is essentially the field of idea -- P.K. Dick
I don't know.. I think english departments are pretty intellectual..

Oh, ya.. I guess I did mean pseudo-intellectual, didn't I.
posted by Chuckles at 3:52 PM on October 29, 2006


The correct answer was: Do you know what a turtle is?

Damn, I blew it. All apologies.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:54 PM on October 29, 2006


Tell me about your mother.
posted by porpoise at 4:05 PM on October 29, 2006


Doh!

Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about... your mother.
posted by porpoise at 4:06 PM on October 29, 2006


I've never seen a turtle

But I understand what you mean.
posted by hal9k at 4:13 PM on October 29, 2006


Pity Harrison Ford turned out to be such a yutz, this really is his best movie.
posted by doctor_negative at 4:19 PM on October 29, 2006


I'll tell you about my mother.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:19 PM on October 29, 2006


Rutger Hauer at around 31:45 is awesome:

Harrison Ford's character is such a dumb character: he gets a gun put to his head and then he fucks a dishwasher. Then he fall in love with her. It doesn't make any sense.
posted by juv3nal at 4:26 PM on October 29, 2006


Metafilter: Is this to be an empathy test?
posted by aubilenon at 4:39 PM on October 29, 2006


Pity Harrison Ford turned out to be such a yutz, this really is his best movie

It's a lot of people's best movie (Sean Young? Hello?), one of those magic times when everything worked and everyone pulled their game up a notch. But then, I'm biased because it's my favourite movie and I've seen it a zillion times and never get tired of watching it.

Thanks for this MetaMonkey.

(Is this testing whether I'm a replicant, or a lesbian, Mr, Deckard?)
posted by biscotti at 4:46 PM on October 29, 2006


Home again, home again jiggety jig!
posted by ernie at 4:48 PM on October 29, 2006


I really enjoyed how Rutger Hauer describes himself as 'shiny' in comparison to Harrison. In retrospect, it's the perfect term for how pristine his wholly other presence was in the film.

That, and Rutger's still-undiminished pride at coming up with the closing 'Tears...' speech is really endearing.
posted by Haruspex at 5:03 PM on October 29, 2006


The American people are basically anti-intellectual, they're not interested in novels of idea, and science fiction is essentially the field of idea -- P.K. Dick

Compare the popular novels in the US with the popular novels in other countries sometime...
posted by delmoi at 5:05 PM on October 29, 2006


I don't know.. I think english departments are pretty intellectual..
Oh, ya.. I guess I did mean pseudo-intellectual, didn't I.


Chuckles, I actually saw Blade Runner as part of a class curriculum in college. And it was required viewing for no less than three of my courses. It is indeed an excellent movie.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:07 PM on October 29, 2006


Have I been really dense all these years and viewings? While watching the documentary, I suddenly found all these Descartes references in "Blade Runner" -- as soon as Ridley Scott pronounced "Deckerd" as "Daykerd" I flashed on it. There's the scene where Pris tells J.F. Sebastian "I think, Sebastian, therefore I am"...because really isn't the nature of replicant existence an incarnation of the mind-body problem?

(Sorry, I'm in the middle of a paper about Rene, so I may be seeing everything through Descartes colored glasses. Feel free to ignore...)
posted by ltracey at 5:15 PM on October 29, 2006


There's a massive spoiler at the end of the documentary if any of you care about who shot first.

Well, duh, it was Greedo Han.

uhm, oops?
posted by mwhybark at 5:22 PM on October 29, 2006


BR is a deeply, deeply flawed movie, but I love it.
posted by grytpype at 5:23 PM on October 29, 2006


ltracey, you wouldn't believe the depth some people will find in blade runner, Descartes is a gimme ;)

You may find some of the 43 thousand results for '+"blade runner" +descartes' interesting (though personally film analysis usually makes me queasy).
posted by MetaMonkey at 5:23 PM on October 29, 2006


BR is a deeply, deeply flawed movie, but I love it.

I like to think of Blade Runner as the most deeply flawed perfect movie I know of.
posted by MetaMonkey at 5:32 PM on October 29, 2006


The American people are basically anti-intellectual, they're not interested in novels of idea, and science fiction is essentially the field of idea -- P.K. Dick

Charles Stross has written a nice piece about the declining proportion of science fiction sales: "Let's put the future behind us."
(was that off topic?)
posted by kolophon at 5:33 PM on October 29, 2006


Ok. I'll start it off. I love the original and can't stand the Directors Cut.
posted by darkmatter at 5:34 PM on October 29, 2006


Very cool. Especially since I just rented and watched Blade Runner last weekend. I'd also highly recommend the British Film Institute's Modern Classics book about Blade Runner. The whole BFI series is pretty excellent, actually.
posted by Kronoss at 5:38 PM on October 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh, and I totally agree:

I really enjoyed how Rutger Hauer describes himself as 'shiny' in comparison to Harrison. In retrospect, it's the perfect term for how pristine his wholly other presence was in the film.

That, and Rutger's still-undiminished pride at coming up with the closing 'Tears...' speech is really endearing.


Rutger,

If you're reading this call me, we'll do lunch.
posted by darkmatter at 5:39 PM on October 29, 2006


Excellent post, thank you!
posted by sidereal at 5:44 PM on October 29, 2006


It's a good little documentary. Not much new there, but for those of us who've always admired the ambiguity, it's especially rewarding to hear various people, all intimate with the production of the film, alternately exclaim "Yes of course he is." and "No, no, never." when asked if Deckard was a replicant.

(No that's not a goddamn spoiler. If you haven't seen this movie, wtf are you reading this?)
posted by j-dub at 5:47 PM on October 29, 2006


kolophon: If we could only combine the two versions. The happy ending is stupid, but so is the OMGDECKARDWASAREPLICANT ending of the director's cut.

That said, it's one of my favorite films. I haven't seen it in a huge long while, though.
posted by Kattullus at 5:49 PM on October 29, 2006


Kolophon, that essay spoke well to the PKD quote and was a great essay on the state of science fiction today. Thanks for sharing.
posted by Operation Afterglow at 5:49 PM on October 29, 2006


Actually, I like the ending of the directors cut better. But I like the over-the-top noir narration. And I hate, hate, hate the unicorn shot. It's like there's a perfume ad right in the middle of this great movie.

Okay, here's my eureka for BR. I was doing some research for a paper for a film class, and happened across a letter PKD had written to a friend talking about how he came up with the idea for the book. He had been researching 'The Man in the High Castle' (which is about america after the axis have won world war 2), and he read reports of concentration camp commanders going to sleep at night to the cries of starving babies.

He said at that moment that he became convinced there was a second race living among us that could not experience empathy. Thus was born Blade Runner.

My film proffessor at the time (Scott Bukatman) was writing the BFI monograph on Blade Runner, so he used that bit trivia. About as close as I ever got to being published.

Not that big a deal really, but a nice bit of backstory.
posted by lumpenprole at 5:59 PM on October 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


I'd love to see this, but my dialup status makes it impossible or at least improbable. Does anyone know if this film is available in a form I can access? I'd even buy it.
posted by Hobgoblin at 6:09 PM on October 29, 2006


The unicorn sequence is an essential plot element in the Director's Cut. I'd explain why, but it would be a spoiler. Are we revealing spoilers in this thread?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:11 PM on October 29, 2006


"There's a massive spoiler at the end of the documentary if any of you care about who shot first."

Han did.
posted by cardoso at 6:14 PM on October 29, 2006


Rosebud was a sled!

There you go, Steven. We're now revealing spoilers.
posted by Justinian at 6:16 PM on October 29, 2006


I've written up the spoiler and put it up here on my own server. Anyone who doesn't want to see it doesn't have to follow the link.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:25 PM on October 29, 2006


Science fiction is mainstream, now. Everything else is genre.

Somebody said that. I don't know who. It could even have been me.
posted by nyxxxx at 6:38 PM on October 29, 2006


Damn, I almost posted this a few hours ago but I couldn't find the link and went back to sleep. Thanks!
posted by loquacious at 6:45 PM on October 29, 2006


Nice, thanks MetaMonkey! I caught this first time 'round, in nineteen eighty-whatever, in a cavernous old-time cinema, projected onto a huge screen, with about three other people in the audience. It was one of those defining film experiences for me.

I was in LA recently and took a detour to see the Bradbury Building.
posted by carter at 6:46 PM on October 29, 2006


Thanks very much for posting this. I guess I need to see the director's cut one of these days.

Um, if anyone has another of those washing machines, I'd like to Deckard it. And Darryl Hannah is still looking very fine.
posted by maxwelton at 7:07 PM on October 29, 2006


Are you a turtle?
posted by taosbat at 7:16 PM on October 29, 2006


I'm still buzzing from watching that doc hours ago. Blade Runner is the film that awakened me to film, literally overnight - before BR I'd just watch a film as simple entertainment, after I'd really get into each film. I've since spent a not inconsiderable amount of time making films and aspiring to make better films, so thanks Ridley, PKD and friends.
posted by MetaMonkey at 7:20 PM on October 29, 2006


I guess I'm one of the few people who prefer the orginal Blade Runner to the director's cut.

I really liked that happy ending. It was the first time in the film where we saw a clear, sunny sky, and the sense of hope was such a relief after all of the struggle in the film.

The bot that lived, the brunette, she was the prettiest girl in the world to me.
posted by rougy at 7:26 PM on October 29, 2006


From Kolophon's link:
SF is predicated on a modernist political program. It was, in fact, the fictional agitprop arm of the Technocrat movement, and it carried on marching in lockstep into the radiant future even after Technocracy withered in the 1930s.
Ties in beautifully with Blade Runner, obviously, because now we know that the future looks dirty, just like the present - not very modernist!

I'm not sure if Stross' analysis is correct though.. Wasn't Technocracy the order of the day until 1960s counter culture? Similarly, I think he overstates his Big Science point
The increasing complexity of the modern technosphere means that the low-hanging fruit have been plucked, and the era of the two-fisted lone gunman engineer uber alles is no more credible than any other wish-fulfilment superhero.
These things are always a double edged sword. Increasing complexity means there are endless low hanging fruit, in the business of managing it. Aside from that, we are entering an era where design and development are extraordinarily inexpensive - free software, virtually free computing power, $20 cutom PCBs, and similarly cheap CNC machining. This is making most any fruit you can imagine low hanging - it is the real singularity.

It is where he starts the argument that is wrong though. Increasing sales? Shouldn't his primary concern be writting good SF? I mean, this is what discussion of the future of science fiction should look like: Science and Science Fiction (Geoffrey A. Landis interviews Niven and Pournelle):
Pournelle: Yes, science works funny nowadays. There was a time when one old eccentric guy with a notebook could do something important to science. Now even the resources of a major university are often not enough. We finally decided not to build the superconducting supercollider. Science is getting tougher in that respect. But, again, computers are making it a lot easier. You don't have to do the experiments any more.

Now, that could be dangerous. We're dry-labbing a lot of stuff, and if your assumptions are right, fine, but if you got your assumptions wrong, you keep getting the same answer, and it's just... wrong. We're down to the third decimal place in rocketry now. The payload on a single-stage-to-orbit ship is often the third decimal place. And our models are just not good enough. I don't know what the payload is. People keep pounding on me, if I got a six-hundred-thousand gross lift-off weight ship, what's the payload? I don't know! Somewhere between zero and nineteen thousand pounds. It may even be less than zero. It may not make orbit. But my guess is that, you build it strong enough, and you start flying, and you start boring holes in the structure when we discover places that have been overbuilt.

You ever hear that story? When Max Hunter was running the Thor program, about number four or so launches, and it started tumbling. And it holds together. And Max is looking at the movie, and he says, damn it, I told 'em they could have gotten another five hundred pounds out of that structure, it's much too strong. Because it shouldn't hold together, when it's doing that. That's the way to design these things. Computer models are bad in that respect.

Niven: It tells you the story you set it to tell. You've got to build.
Of course that interview is ten years old :P
posted by Chuckles at 7:28 PM on October 29, 2006


I've written up the spoiler and put it up here on my own server. Anyone who doesn't want to see it doesn't have to follow the link.

Deckard was so outmatched by Roy and he Nexus-6 generation that he must have been the discontinued Namby-Pamby model.
posted by disgruntled at 7:30 PM on October 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


nyxxxx: Samuel Delany (IIRC) made the point that while any sentence written in literary, conventional fiction (e.g. the sun rose over the mountain) could also fit in sf, while the converse was not true (both suns rose over the mountain).

What I liked about the original is that while the possibility of Deckard being a replicant is raised in the viewer's mind, it's not a slam-dunk final-scene twist. I like having Deckard there as an indeterminite creature, a bridge between androids and humans.

One of my main objections to the unicorn scene is that one can see the horn bounce around, which completely jolts me into remember the artificialness of the onscreen world.
posted by Kattullus at 7:34 PM on October 29, 2006


The most intriguing thing to me was finding out that those beautiful, famous, ending lines of the film were actually written by Rutger Hauer himself.

It's too be we don't see more of him; he's a pretty good actor once you get him in his element.
posted by rougy at 7:52 PM on October 29, 2006


it's turtles all the way down.
posted by crunchland at 7:53 PM on October 29, 2006


Anyone know a link to download this? The profusion of sites offering to help me with this, and then failing, is erm, googlesque.
posted by pompomtom at 7:58 PM on October 29, 2006


Metafilter: gosh, you've got some really nice toys here.

And I’ll take the Director’s Cut over the original, unicorn scene aside – terrible narration by Harrison, and I couldn't believe the details onscreen (for both of them, I had to check) that I simply never noticed before with Harisson's blathering. But soooo disappointed that they didn’t fix the Abdul ben Hassan scene. I’d been waiting to hear the real conversation for years upon years.
posted by dreamsign at 8:04 PM on October 29, 2006


I liked the factoid that the nice scenery from the end of the original theatrical release were outtakes from The Shining. That was a good time for films; Apocalypse Now is also from about the same time.
posted by carter at 8:24 PM on October 29, 2006


That was a good time for films. What was that movie that Bill Murray was in, the serious one? The Razor's Edge? I think that came out back then, too.
posted by rougy at 8:35 PM on October 29, 2006


I think, Sebastian, therefore I am. ♥ We could rattle off quotations all night if we wanted.

How many of you pull into your driveway or walk into your house with "home again, home again, jiggity jig" because of this movie? Surely it can't be just me.
posted by boo_radley at 8:55 PM on October 29, 2006


Well, Apocalypse Now (1979) was filmed in 1976-77, The Shining was 1980, Blade Runner (1982) was filmed in 1981, and Razor's Edge was 1984. That's almost a full decade ...

Count me in as: liking the Director's Cut principally because I am ambivalent about the, well, ambivalent narration, liking the unicorn shot for its atmosphere, but hating the fact that Scott "declares" himself on the principal question.

SPOILERS




















John Anderson. Ralph Nader. Ross Perot. Alan Schlesinger.



END SPOILERS
posted by dhartung at 9:06 PM on October 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


You buncha Skin Jobs.

All movies are deeply flawed to somebody.

Blade Runner is great.

"If you could only see what I've seen with your eyes..."

C'mon.
posted by tkchrist at 9:07 PM on October 29, 2006


GOD what a great link.
I saw this once before... during days of Horlick's and Viz.
Thank you -didn't know if I would ever see this again.
posted by squidfartz at 9:28 PM on October 29, 2006


Blade Runner is subtle. Like literature.

it was required viewing for no less than three of my courses.

Interesting.
posted by stbalbach at 9:49 PM on October 29, 2006


You know, maybe I'm dense, but I never picked up on that there spoiler we're talking about. Huh.

But can I get a hell-yeah for Vangelis? I love the soundtrack, it's great writing music.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:53 PM on October 29, 2006


Post-viewing: What a fantastic documentary. Would that most "special features" were a fraction as deep and revealing (at least of the films that deserve it).

I especially enjoyed little bits like Scott throwing respect down to the screenwriter for "working" while he was (hands in the air, almost air quotes) "being creative", or Walsh hitting his head with how hard acting was on this picture, compared to the usual fun. (There is a small bit from a QT appearance years ago, where the interviewer (Letterman?) asks in essence whether he is a dictator or a collaborator, whether he tells the actors what to do or listens to what they bring. Tarantino exclaims, "Well I hope they're bringing something!" He directs, they act, you know.) And how Vangelis works from single shots to build his scores.

Plus, we have very almost-the-horse's-mouth (Haber) word that Ford did the narration badly so they wouldn't use it. That's been bandied about for so long you figure most "sources" are just repeating a UL.

Then you get the amazement that people had on BR becoming a cult hit on video, because you could watch it again and again and get something new each time. Kids, mark that. That was such a sea change in the average person's relationship with the movies, you can't imagine how it was before. I well remember going to the first re-release of Star Wars -- and VCRs were becoming affordable then -- with no certainty of when I'd get to see it again, so I'd better go as many times as I could (three, I think it was).

Anyway, to complete and reiterate:
* voiceover -- AMBIVALENT DISLIKE, it was not valueless, but mostly superfluous
* unicorn -- AMBIVALENT DISLIKE, as a clue it was superfluous
* happy ending shot -- AMBIVALENT LIKE, superfluous and the elevator doors were a great close, but the narration's last lines underlined the key ambiguity

I don't want to argue one way or the other -- I think it's important to leave it ambiguous, both to the audience and to Deckard. It's an extension of the human condition. It's nature vs. nurture. What of what we believe is cultural construct? To me, this is what the movie is about.

(Thus, I would like to fiddle with that Director's Cut a bit more and get a few things a bit different. And I would like them to come out and call it something other than the Director's Cut because it, well, isn't.)

Oh, fantastic point by Hauer in there, that Ford was in difficulty as an actor because the character is presented as the hero or an antihero, but is really the bad guy.

The Pauline Kael (New Yorker) review of BR sticks with me, with lines like "[Sean Young]'s shoulders come into a room half an hour before she does". And it was Kael who called BR "the seminal film of the 1980s" years before it was clear that it was.
posted by dhartung at 10:19 PM on October 29, 2006


Interesting quote from Paul Sammon (who appears in the documentary):

For instance, I do believe that [Pauline] Kael was on the right track when she criticized BR for being all "subtext and no text." That’s an insightful statement. I also think some of BR’s story points could have been made clearer, or more logical. I further felt Deckard’s side of the narrative should have been strengthened, and that the "Deckard as Replicant" twist needed more work. I mean, the ambiguity Ridley was aiming for regarding that idea certainly works – the problem is that the idea itself isn’t fully worked out.

From an interview with him on BladeZone:The Online Blade Runner Fan Club & Museum.
posted by Kattullus at 10:39 PM on October 29, 2006


I do believe that [Pauline] Kael was on the right track when she criticized BR for being all "subtext and no text."

That is insightful. It's funny when you compare the movie to the book, because PKD was so very upfront about his narratives. The book is very straightforward in terms of who's doing the talking and who the hero is, etc.

On the other hand, I always thought it would have made a great movie scene if they had used the part of the book where the replicant takes him to the faked police station staffed by replicants who think they are police officers. That's brilliant.

Wasn't Technocracy the order of the day until 1960s counter culture?

Yeah, but at least in science fiction, that wasn't a widely disseminated idea. All through the 60's it was mostly big rocket, big hero, big science stories. PKD wasn't alone in using SF to explore cognitive dissonance, but he was one of a very few.
posted by lumpenprole at 10:52 PM on October 29, 2006


Been a favorite since I originally saw it on the screen (original theatrical).

I miss my "Voight-Kampff Test in Progress" door hanger, sadly lost in a house fire.

(And Sean Young NEVER looked so good...)
posted by Samizdata at 11:02 PM on October 29, 2006


Oh, and a fantastic link. Going to pass it on.
posted by Samizdata at 11:03 PM on October 29, 2006


ltracey, you wouldn't believe the depth some people will find in blade runner, Descartes is a gimme ;)

The obsession with eyes is the other Descartes tip. "If you could see what I've seen with your eyes..." ...you would know what I know, and therefore you would be what I am, and that's just ALL Descartes. There's lots more, like the empathy test machine that focuses on eyes to test for humanity, to the replicants tracking down their maker by tracking down who made their eyes, to the scene cut from the American release but in the European one where Batty kills the man that invented him by gouging out his eyes. That whole seeing-knowing-being thing is of course much older than Descartes, and you can trace that back to the very earliest recorded human thoughts, such as Oedipus Rex and the Old Testament (God is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnivalent). By destroying his ability to see, Batty removes one of the three things that make a god-creator a god-creator, and thus destroys god entirely (god can't be partially-powerful). This is why destroying the one man's eyes is an important symbolic act: it destroys the god-creator's power, and thus the ability to create more replicants. Revenge is taken by Batty for all replicants. Otherwise this scene doesn't really make sense, as Batty's seemingly personal quarrel with Tyrell has no basis. It also makes more sense once we start applying religious themes, as the character's archetypes fit nicely the HIndu trinity: Tyrell is god the creator, Batty god the destroyer, and Deckard god the maintainer, just keeping 'er easy and takin' it a day at a time. And on and on. Clearly (as I have demonstrated) it is true that people have written volumes of analysis on this film. Consider, for a moment, that two pretty major plot points are how people relate to their mothers and what the contents of their dreams are, and you can imagine the kind of field day those of a psychoanalytic persuasion have with this film.

Further, that's a tip to what I think the real plot twist is: that everyone knows that Deckard is a replicant except for him, even the other replicants. As I mentioned, I'm pretty convinced that by the end of the film Batty and Rachel knew Deckard was a replicant. Anyway, to another replicant, it would be painfully obvious. The replicants, remembering things that never really happened, obsess over physical artifacts of that memory, for instance pictures of their "mothers." Because they can't interpolate memories like you or I, re-casting or re-remembering things with slight variation in each re-telling with others who share that memory, they neurotically collect and display pictures, remnants, artifacts, anything they've been programmed to believe has historical signifigance, all in an attempt to make real a "memory" that never actually happened.

The point is: the much-debated "unicorn scene" happens as Deckard falls asleep at the piano while examining the "historical documents" of the replicant he's chasing, and the top of his piano is lined with... Deckard's own almost identical historical artifacts! Personally, I thought the handling of this in such a "this equals that" manner was kind of ham-handed, and made more so with the unicorn sequence, wherein he quite literally dreams of electric sheep. The fact that everyone knew but Deckard (I'm convinced Batty knew, and I think Rachel comes to realize it through the course of the film) again underlines is dense-ness. For a character drawn to be exceedingly intelligent, many of his decisions in the film and especially his inability to recognize his own nature seem at odds. You could do alot of "he was programmed to be smart about everything *but* his own nature, lest he also turn against his masters" hand-waiving, but it just rings hollow. Of the several problems with this film, the fact that Deckard, a trianed and expert Blade Runner and replicant-spotter, wouldn't walk into his own apartment and IMMEDIATELY recognize that a replicant lived there is insane.

All that said, Blade Runner is, as everyone here so far has said, the most perfectly flawed movie, or perhaps flawed perfect movie ever made. I also really enjoyed the part of tihs documentery when Rutger (who played Batty) comes right out and says Harrison's character came off as just plain dumb, as I mentioned above. Batty's contempt for Deckard is just so palpabale, just pours so effortlessly out of him, that I always kind of assumed that there was a bit more than "just" acting going on.
posted by ChasFile at 11:09 PM on October 29, 2006 [5 favorites]


And yes, finally getting confirmation that Ford intentionally did a bad job on the VOs was nice, as well.
posted by ChasFile at 11:25 PM on October 29, 2006


Would that most "special features" were a fraction as deep and revealing (at least of the films that deserve it).

Based on interviews done for TVO's Saturday Night at the Movies, mostly by Elwy Yost:
The format of Saturday Night at the Movies was that of two movies, separated by interviews conducted by Yost. Yost has a unique, modest, enthusiastic, and well-informed interview style. In the early years the interviews were with local film experts, but the show's producers took the opportunity to interview visiting actors when they had gigs in Toronto. As the show grew in popularity, funds were found to send Yost and a crew to Hollywood to arrange interviews with film personalities. This library of interviews is said to be the longest of its kind.

The library included interviews with the stars of classic films, character actors, directors, screen-writers, composers, film-editors, special-effects people, and sometimes even their children.
I think most movies deserve serious extra feature treatment. It just has to come many years after the mainstream marketing drive is over.



I mean, the ambiguity Ridley was aiming for regarding that idea certainly works – the problem is that the idea itself isn’t fully worked out.

In the documentary Scott was clearly on the Deckard is replicant side. I really wonder what level of ambiguity, if any, he ever intended. Did Scott only think of it as a Keyser Soze type question? I prefer the ambiguity..



All through the 60's it was mostly big rocket, big hero, big science stories.

Absolutely! It kept on going right through the 70's - e.g. Niven and Pournelle.. I just think Stross is placing it much too early historically (wiki on post modernism says it is pretty complicated - it wouldn't be post modern if it wasn't :P).

I'm kind of interested in post modernism in science fiction, actually (I'm not totally sure that post modernism is quite the right thing to call what I'm looking for..). The Golden Path theme in Dune, for example, wasn't fleshed out until God Emperor, and on checking, it wasn't published 'till 1981..

Of PKD, I've only ever read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, I think I need to try some more..
posted by Chuckles at 11:50 PM on October 29, 2006


How many of you pull into your driveway or walk into your house with "home again, home again, jiggity jig" because of this movie? Surely it can't be just me.

Used to recite this every single day upon arriving at home/work (live-in counselor at a group home) -- I would say the: home again home again bit and as old Bill would toss me the keys, he'd always reply: good evening JF. Clockwork.

Ford was in difficulty as an actor because the character is presented as the hero or an antihero, but is really the bad guy.

I use Blade Runner as an introduction to storytelling for all of my mid-level English classes. One of the points I make is that, unusually, there are no clear-cut "good" or "bad" guys. (well, a case can be made for either, and I would agree that Ford is more villain than hero) This of course, is one of the things that makes the story great.

Didn't realize that there were so many "versions" out there till I read the wiki on a little BR jag a couple of months back.
posted by dreamsign at 11:51 PM on October 29, 2006 [1 favorite]


Further, that's a tip to what I think the real plot twist is: that everyone knows that Deckard is a replicant except for him, even the other replicants.

Thanks for that ChasFile! Getting rid of the voiceovers in my imagining of the movie is pretty hard, but.. Batty saving Deckard at the end makes more sense if Deckard is a fellow replicant; especially in the context of what you just wrote about Batty's thematic role.
posted by Chuckles at 12:04 AM on October 30, 2006


That would be kind of sad, Chuckles. Like the nazi-loving neighbour in American Beauty being gay instead of just in the midst of despair and confusion. Way, way too convenient.

Even if Harrison's voiceover was shit, remember the content: that "maybe" Batty cared enough at the end about life -- anybody's life -- to save him. That's the interpretation I prefer. This new suggestion replaces profound meaning with a cutesy plot twist.
posted by dreamsign at 12:09 AM on October 30, 2006


Thanks MetaMonkey, that was great.

Hauer was beaming. You can tell he is incredibly proud and thankful and I think there was more than a little bit of disdain shown for Ford. But then again, I've never understood the hype around Ford. He is such a 1-dimensional, montonic actor. He's been lucky to have successful 'vehicles' carry him.

Early on someone spoke whose title was umm...'futurist designer' or the somesuch. Reminds me why I like staying in the cinema to read credits.

I don't reallllly care about the unicorn and the ending (but generally dislike Ford's voiceover). Hauer mentions that Scott intended for ambiguity about Deckard/replicant and perhaps, as suggested above, this element was not worked out sufficiently. But these are small asides to the larger project. It's like watching some great shiny alien craft flying past, all brass and gleam, and then going up close and seeing the patina. Wonderful movie and interesting doco - it must have been a strange pressurized film to work on.
posted by peacay at 12:30 AM on October 30, 2006


Something no one has pointed out yet so I will: the soundtrack by Vangelis is the best make-out music that has ever been written.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 12:54 AM on October 30, 2006


Attack ships off the Shoals of Orion, not shoulders of Orion
posted by A189Nut at 1:14 AM on October 30, 2006


I want more life, fucker!
posted by Joeforking at 1:18 AM on October 30, 2006


BR is a beautiful movie and I believe that Vangelis' score is responsible for a disproportionate amount of that beauty, even when compared to other movies with "classic" soundtracks.

When BR was first released in the UK I immediately went out and bought the soundtrack album only to find that it was comprised of orchestral arrangements of the original electronic score. This was disappointing until I listened to "Bladerunner Blues" played on flugelhorn by Chuck Findley and "One More Kiss, Dear" with Bill Watrous on trombone (which only appears briefly in the background in the movie). Just awesome.

The music's pretty much the same but the orchestral setting just adds something that pushes it from "hauntingly evocative" to "hauntingly beautiful". I now own the original version too but I prefer my original non-authentic purchase.
posted by NeonSurge at 1:30 AM on October 30, 2006


Wow, you've all made me long for the 25th anniversary theatrical run (as announced at dark horizons)! Having never seen the movie being projected in a big cinema, I am really really happy to get a chance for that at last.
posted by Glow Bucket at 1:53 AM on October 30, 2006


Arrrrrrgh, I hated that "orchestral adaptations" tape, particularly Bladerunner Blues. Though it resulted in some of the most compulsive overplay I've known when I finally got my hands on the real thing.
posted by dreamsign at 1:55 AM on October 30, 2006


Some other thoughts:
  • About the possibility that the other replicants knew Deckard was one, too: Watch again the scene where Deckard first meets Zhora. Her incredulity makes even more sense and gains more depth if you think of her as instantly recognizing Deckard.
  • But the problem with this is: Why would Gaff (and it clearly must be Gaff) have sent Deckard on his weird mission then? Was he trying to teach him a lesson? To mess with him? What?
  • It's Rachael, not Rachel.
  • The whole "Is Deckard a replicant?" question is a red herring.
  • I have some other notes and thoughts up on my site.
posted by jiawen at 2:37 AM on October 30, 2006


For those wanting a better (or different) soundtrack than the official release, I'd recommend the Esper Edition (scroll all the way down to the last entry). It's a bootleg, and so it's not commercially available, but it's easy to find using the proper programs. I find it very evocative of the whole mood of the movie - put that on, dim the lights and squint a little, and you're almost there.
posted by Zack_Replica at 2:46 AM on October 30, 2006


Oh, finally remembered Zhora's line: "Are you for real?" Makes more sense if she's incredulous about Deckard pretending to be anything other than the replicant she knows he is...

Another thought: Watch the bonsai. I have a theory that the number of bonsai in a scene equals the number of replicants in the scene.

Another thought: Note the architecture in Deckard's apartment. Frank Lloyd Wright, Prairie School -- a school whose purpose was to meld the natural and the artificial flawlessly. Also, note that the specific tiles in Deckard's apartment are Wright's attempt at mimicing the design of a Mayan (Aztec?) pyramid. Note the other important pyramids in the movie.

Another thought: I believe that the US broadcast edition of the movie makes the "I want more life, fucker!" line into "I want more life, father!"

Another thought: note, as Deckard looks at Rachael's photos while at his piano, that the photos move. He's either psychotic, or a replicant.

I often think "Home again, home again, jiggity jig. Goooood evening, JF!" when I get home.
posted by jiawen at 2:57 AM on October 30, 2006


I've done the "home again, home again" bit more times and in more places than I'd care to remember, and no-one ever replied "goooood evening, JF!". *cries*

...as Deckard looks at Rachael's photos while at his piano, that the photos move. He's either psychotic, or a replicant.

The moving photo part rules - for me its stunningly evocative of a far-away half-remembered dream-like memory, replicant or otherwise. Listen also for distant laughter.

On that note, the sound design on Blade Runner is as outstanding as the lighting and production design, but is sadly noted far less frequently.

/occasional downtrodden sound designer
posted by MetaMonkey at 3:19 AM on October 30, 2006


Attack ships off the Shoals of Orion, not shoulders of Orion

nope. (And you forgot the "on fire" part.)
posted by Turtles all the way down at 4:43 AM on October 30, 2006


i just do eyes.
posted by lapolla at 5:04 AM on October 30, 2006


But the problem with this is: Why would Gaff (and it clearly must be Gaff) have sent Deckard on his weird mission then? Was he trying to teach him a lesson? To mess with him? What?

Surely it would be Bryant who sends him off. Gaff is just there to watch Deckard.

And the why is easy. Why risk a real man's life hunting skinjobs when you can just send another skinjob after them, and throw it away when you're done?

More fun:

It ain't no accident that Deckard and Holden look so much alike. One of the things I like about the DC is that it's almost consistent with a story where the Holden replicant gets aired out, so they cook up a Deckard and turn it loose. When you see Deckard in the rain waiting for noodles, he's fresh from the Tyrell biofactories.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:42 AM on October 30, 2006


Why would Gaff (and it clearly must be Gaff) have sent Deckard on his weird mission then?

Because he could get killed if he did it himself; much safer to have a replicant do your killing for you. And it doesn't even particularly matter if Deckard somehow figures out he's a replicant during the ordeal, because he's presumably under surveillance the whole time; Gaff can just take him out.
posted by equalpants at 5:45 AM on October 30, 2006


Curses! Must use preview...
posted by equalpants at 5:46 AM on October 30, 2006


Can't wait for the re-release and the dvds. I just wish they'd fix the voice-over problem toward the beginning, when Deckard is getting the info about the missing replicants and the terrible shot when the exotic dancer replicant (obviously a stunt person) is running through the panes of glass -- with the wig flapping around, etc. I doubt they will, but that always yanks me right out of the movie.
posted by papercake at 5:47 AM on October 30, 2006


Oh, finally remembered Zhora's line: "Are you for real?" Makes more sense if she's incredulous about Deckard pretending to be anything other than the replicant she knows he is...

Don't forget about Rachael's line: "Would you come after me? Hunt me?"

Hunt her like a replicant would!!!

Another thought: note, as Deckard looks at Rachael's photos while at his piano, that the photos move. He's either psychotic, or a replicant.

Someone actually once said to me that Deckard had to be a replicant because he crushed that steel unicorn origami -- that's superhuman strength, dude!

Deserves the grasping-at-straws award. These things work on the level, without replicant explanation. If you want an obvious bit of telegraphing, note the eyeglow in near-darkness (simple lighting, but used to full effect with Rachael, but not Deckard in the same scene). Not a giveaway -- not even indicative. Just smart production using atmosphere to suggest things. It doesn't make more "sense" because of it.
posted by dreamsign at 6:31 AM on October 30, 2006


'Wake up, time to die...'

A friend of mine made such a jaw droppingly obvious observation on this masterpiece some years ago - how does Roy know Deckard's name?

'C'mon Deckard, show me...what your made off' - well, now even that line sounds like he's refering to Deckard's 'status'

One of the greatest films ever made, for so many reasons, on so many levels, warts and all.

Have y'all checked out the full deleted scene?
posted by Mintyblonde at 6:49 AM on October 30, 2006


Have y'all checked out the full deleted scene?

I'm so happy that was left out.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:36 AM on October 30, 2006


Woo. Thanks for the reminders of how good this movie is.

MetaFilter: finest quality, superior workmanship.
posted by Foosnark at 7:39 AM on October 30, 2006


MetaFilter: I'm so happy that was left out.
posted by Chuckles at 8:03 AM on October 30, 2006


Yeah, the Holden hospital scene is one of the recurring reasons I hold editors in such high esteem. That whole clip stank. I can't believe it was ever even considered a final take.
posted by dreamsign at 8:19 AM on October 30, 2006


But the problem with this is: Why would Gaff (and it clearly must be Gaff) have sent Deckard on his weird mission then? Was he trying to teach him a lesson? To mess with him? What?

I've always had this theory that Deckard-the-replicant has (an edited version of) Gaff's memories, Gaff being too old and beat-up to go chasing replicants himself. Hence Gaff being able to second guess him etc. On Googling, I'm pleased to discover it isn't just me who's had that idea.
posted by Luddite at 9:22 AM on October 30, 2006


'C'mon Deckard, show me...what your made off' - well, now even that line sounds like he's refering to Deckard's 'status'

Also "you've done a man's job".
posted by biscotti at 9:59 AM on October 30, 2006


Have y'all checked out the full deleted scene?

Sure. It was, uh, in the documentary linked in the post.
posted by lumpenprole at 11:54 AM on October 30, 2006


I totally loved it when it came out, and all through the 80s and mid-90s I considered it a masterpiece. then I watched it again about ten years ago and I was like, bah
posted by matteo at 12:27 PM on October 30, 2006


True story: I was at a coffeeshop a friend of mine owns. One day he pointed at a list of bad checks and said, "Do you know this guy?" Because often I know a lot of people from different circles.

The name on the bad check was Roy Batty.

I told him, "yeah, that's Roy. He's a replicant. He kinda looks like Rutger Hauer. "

And the funny thing is, I probably do know anyone who would sign a bad check with the name Roy Batty. I just couldn't tell you which one of them it is. But it's certainly only about 6 people in this town that would do that, and I know them all.
posted by nyxxxx at 2:12 PM on October 30, 2006 [1 favorite]


boo_radley : How many of you pull into your driveway or walk into your house with "home again, home again, jiggity jig" because of this movie? Surely it can't be just me.

Nope, it's not just you. I use it as a greeting to my pets.

This thread has been wonderful. I have to chime in: I like the voice-over, don't mind the happy ending, and am indifferent to the unicorn.

Reading all this Blade Runner love inspired me to look for a good prop of Deckard's pistol. And holy shit I found one! I've been trying to find a good version of this prop for years! w00t! (better pictures here, but it's an ebay link so it won't last forever.)

Extra added trivia bonus: the character Gaff from Blade Runner was played by Edward James Olmos who is currently playing Commander William Adama on Battlestar Galactica. This newest season they have started using the term "Skin job" as a reference to Cylons.
posted by quin at 2:41 PM on October 30, 2006


quin: THANK YOU, that's been bugging the back of my hindbrain for weeks.

The pictures move because they are some sort of holorecording, just as Deckard's computer is able to change viewing angle in the shot he analyzes.

The futurist guy is Syd Mead.

In my world, The Fifth Element and BR take place in the same universe.
posted by mwhybark at 8:23 PM on October 30, 2006


As much as I loved Scott in his earlier stuff, he broke my heart once again this century in this documentary... Why, why Ridley did you have to be so affirmative? I wanted to die thinking Deckard is not an android... What the hell, I'll keep my own opinions, I guess.
posted by carmina at 9:16 PM on October 30, 2006


People have mentioned that Deckard's pictures are animated. In my dreams pictures do this. I guess this is an example of how Blade Runner is so meaningful to people...it taps in to what is essential and immutable in humanity, thereby resonating with what you might realistically expect the future to be like. Like the Star Wars garbage scene. Different but familiar. And messy.

I really enjoyed how Rutger Hauer describes himself as 'shiny' in comparison to Harrison. In retrospect, it's the perfect term for how pristine his wholly other presence was in the film.

Haruspex: I'm so glad you called my attention to this: it's true, it's perfect. Rutger Hauer has achieved the ultimate respect from me: an inspired performance in this film and clearly, given the documentary footage, a smart and reflective man.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 10:50 PM on October 30, 2006


See the film in the cinema. It makes a difference.

That title sequence? It's essentially the view of my home town, the flare stacks from the chemical plants.
posted by holgate at 2:33 AM on October 31, 2006


As much as I loved Scott in his earlier stuff, he broke my heart once again this century in this documentary... Why, why Ridley did you have to be so affirmative? I wanted to die thinking Deckard is not an android... What the hell, I'll keep my own opinions, I guess.


You know, it seemed like he had a really sly smile on his face when he said that. Almost as if he was still just toying with people. That's how I see it anyway. Maybe I'm just trying to convince myself that there is still some ambiguity.
posted by Sandor Clegane at 9:56 AM on October 31, 2006


The obsession with eyes

The eye/vision motif is very pronounced.

This may be a reach, but I think even the date at the start of the film could be part of this:

LOS ANGELES
2019

What's perfect vision? 20/20. 20/19 is slightly flawed vision.

I used to consider Blade Runner my second favorite film, just behind Brazil. Over time, I think it's drifted into first place.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 2:57 PM on October 31, 2006


so there were five replicants that escaped, but deckard only hunts down four. does that mean deckard (rachel?) was one of them?
posted by kliuless at 4:37 AM on November 1, 2006


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