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25 Years Later, It's Still Dark and Rainy
September 3, 2007 5:22 AM   Subscribe

Ridley Scott is presenting Blade Runner: The Final Cut, a re-edited version of the cyber-punk classic, at the 2007 Venice Film Festival.
posted by chuckdarwin (148 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wish they'd stop milking that movie for all it's worth, he already did a -- inferior to the original -- director's cut, now this (ready for Blu-Ray or HDDVD or whatever). the original voiceover was cool. and you don't really need to see the origami unicorn to figure that shit out anyway.
posted by matteo at 5:28 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


In the new version, the origami unicorn has been replaced with two dewbacks.
posted by Bryan Behrenshausen at 5:32 AM on September 3, 2007 [5 favorites]


somehow this reminds me of the Onion's take on 'blade inflation'.

In analogy:
Blade Runner,
then Blade Runner: Mach 3
then Blade Runner: Mach 3 with a Strip
then Blade Runner: Quattro
and finally Blade Runner: Fusion

coming up, Blade Runner: Overkill
posted by umop-apisdn at 5:36 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


The voiceover has always annoyed me. Harrison Ford can recite the phone book with more feeling !!!
posted by Pendragon at 5:38 AM on September 3, 2007


Also showing:
# Atonement Joe Wright
# The Darjeeling Limited Wes Anderson
# Sleuth Kenneth Branagh
# Redacted Brian De Palma
# The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Andrew Dominik
# Nessuna qualità agli eroi Paolo Franchi
# Michael Clayton Tony Gilroy
# Nightwatching Peter Greenaway
# En la ciudad de Sylvia Jose Luis Guerin
# In the Valley of Elah Paul Haggis
# I’m not There Todd Haynes
# Taiyang zhaochang shenqi (The Sun Also Rises) Jiang Wen
# Bangbang wo aishen (Help Me Eros) Lee Kang Sheng
# La Graine et le mulet Abdellatif Kechiche
# Se, jie (Lust, Caution) Ang Lee
# It’s a Free World… Ken Loach
# L’ora di punta Vincenzo Marra
# Sukiyaki Western Django Miike Takashi
# 12 Nikita Mikhalkov
# Il dolce e l’amaro Andrea Porporati
# Les Amours d’Astrée et Céladon Eric Rohmer

posted by chuckdarwin at 5:38 AM on September 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


More on the films in competition (studio synopses)
posted by chuckdarwin at 5:42 AM on September 3, 2007


The voiceover has always annoyed me. Harrison Ford can recite the phone book with more feeling !!!

Rumor has it that Ford thought the voiceover was a bad idea, but the studio pushed him to do it, so he did it as blandly as possible as a protest.
posted by zardoz at 5:43 AM on September 3, 2007


Ridley Scott was recently asked "Who's the biggest pain in the arse you've ever worked with?" He replied: "It's got to be Harrison...he'll forgive me because now I get on with him. Now he's become charming. But he knows a lot, that's the problem. When we worked together it was my first film up and I was the new kid on the block. But we made a good movie."

Ford has said of Scott in 2000: "I admire his work. We had a bad patch there, and I’m over it." More recently in 2006, Ford reflected on the production of the film saying: “What I remember more than anything else when I see Blade Runner is not the 50 nights of shooting in the rain, but the voiceover... I was still obliged to work for these clowns that came in writing one bad voiceover after another.”

posted by chuckdarwin at 5:46 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I like the voiceover. It's more noir-ish.

.
posted by RavinDave at 5:47 AM on September 3, 2007


Blade Runner is my favorite "after-this-everything-is-different" movie. I wonder if they had any sense of the magnitude of what they were doing during production.

And Deckard is not a replicant, unicorns be damned.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 6:04 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


the bashos_frog cut:
with voice over and unicorn dream sequence
without stupid happy ending

(I like the voiceover as a noirish element, though I don't think it was necessary for exposition)
posted by bashos_frog at 6:07 AM on September 3, 2007


Ugh. Another "remastering".... Curse you George Lucas for starting this crap.
posted by sotonohito at 6:25 AM on September 3, 2007


Brilliant production design, but kind of thin on plot, I've always thought.
posted by futility closet at 6:27 AM on September 3, 2007


I may be a little unusual in that the "directors cut" was the first version of BR that I ever saw -- at the ripe old age of 15, no less.

I remember sitting through it and thinking "Man, this Scott dude is hella artsy-fartsy. I don't even understand like half the things these people are saying. I wonder if that stripper is gonna show her tits? Nope. *sigh*"

It wasn't until a few years later that I discovered an "original" version with a voiceover that actually explained things a bit. That made things a little easier on my still teenaged mind. Still no tits, though.

I think both versions have their place, the first being crime story noir-ish and the "directors" being very intellectual and introspective. You could watch either depending on your mood or how you feel about humanity on that particular day.

"Have a better one."
posted by Avenger at 6:35 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


coming up, Blade Runner: Overkill

What happened to Blade Runner Xtreme?
posted by NewBornHippy at 6:35 AM on September 3, 2007


Ugh. Another "remastering".... Curse you George Lucas Abel Gance for starting this crap.

There. Fixed that for ya.
posted by Smart Dalek at 6:38 AM on September 3, 2007


I don't know if it's just Ford's deliberately shoddy line reading, or the script itself, but I find the voiceover from the original so cringe-inducingly bad that I can barely watch the film.
posted by flashboy at 6:39 AM on September 3, 2007


It's nothing like George Lucas's "now that I have no balls, I can't bear to see anything scary and I can't bear to let any of my old characters have balls either, so off they come, Han" "remastering". This has been on the table for many, many years, and now they have finally managed to clear the rights. Since Blade Runner is my favourite movie of all time (I don't hate the original theatrical release (even though it's only "original" because it was released first, it's very far from the movie Ridley Scott intended to make, and the studio did their best to dumb it down for the idiots) but I far prefer the director's cut), and this "final cut" is what the film was originally meant to be.

Plus, we really need a decent transfer for DVD anyway, it's not a matter of "ready for Blu-Ray", what is currently available on DVD is the old laserdisc transfer, it looks and sounds like crap, even accounting for the age of the movie, it's just not good enough for DVD.

If you don't like it, don't buy it, but I have been waiting for this for too many years to care if other people don't get how important this is.
posted by biscotti at 6:45 AM on September 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


I can not WAIT for this to come out on DVD. I bought an HD-DVD player just for this.

On preview: what biscotti said, too.
posted by papercake at 6:56 AM on September 3, 2007


I would have thought that Ridley's "Director's Cut" would have been cut, well, exactly the way he wanted? Has he changed his mind over the last five years or so?
posted by Meatbomb at 6:59 AM on September 3, 2007


biscotti, maybe you can clarify this a bit further? Director's cut was not really as Ridley wanted it done?
posted by Meatbomb at 7:00 AM on September 3, 2007


Most overrated film ever? Ridley Scott doesn't understand human beings.
posted by dydecker at 7:02 AM on September 3, 2007


I'm amazed at how revered "Blade Runner" has become over the years. It was much unloved upon initial release. Its become a favorite of mine over the years, but it was a real let-down on first viewing in the theatre. I think most people were looking for something a little more visceral after "Alien".
posted by hwestiii at 7:05 AM on September 3, 2007


I love Blade Runner, but why didn't they just post armed guards all around Tyrell's office?
posted by stammer at 7:05 AM on September 3, 2007


Smart Dalek, re Abel Gance, I got to see the full restoration of Napolean when it came through Chicago in the early 80's. Can't say that I fully appreciated it, but it was quite an experience, seeing a silent movie on three screens in the Chicago Theatre with a full symphony orchestra providing the musical accompaniment.
posted by hwestiii at 7:10 AM on September 3, 2007


The current DVD sucks, bad transfer, lots of dust and scratches, 2-channel sound, no extras. I'm dying to see this with a decent quality transfer and 5.1 sound. Also the new DVD set is going to have all four versions of the movie on it so it's not like they are trying to suppress the earlier versions like Lucas tried.

On the subject of director's cuts, don't judge them all by Lucas's stupidity. Lucas always had final cut himself, so any original issues were caused by himself, not many directors are that lucky. Bladerunner was butchered by the studio before the first release, adding that stupid voiceover and tacking on footage from the Shining to create the dumbest ending ever.
posted by octothorpe at 7:12 AM on September 3, 2007


This is one of my wish I could wipe my brain so I could see it for the first time movies.
posted by aerotive at 7:16 AM on September 3, 2007


Meatbomb: "biscotti, maybe you can clarify this a bit further? Director's cut was not really as Ridley wanted it done?"

From what I remember, the earlier "director's cut" was done in a hurry for a film festival using Scott's notes and approval but without much direct involvement by him. This is a more full scale re-cut with some added effects footage that he couldn't afford to do in '82.
posted by octothorpe at 7:16 AM on September 3, 2007


Did he fix the continuity errors, the bad dubbing, & some of the horrendous fx flubs, like the wires on the spinner & Joanna Cassidy's totally obvious stunt double with a fright wig crashing thru' the candy glass?

Don't get me wrong, it's possibly the best sci fi movie ever made, or at least in the last 30 years, but some of those cock ups really piss me off. But Scott's movies are full of 'em, I noticed the same sort of shit in Gladiator.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 7:19 AM on September 3, 2007


It's more noir-ish.

right on. to me, BR will always be first and foremost a noir film set in the future, and a love story. the SF side, however beautifully done, is secondary for me. but it's great that everybody has been ripping off this film for 25 years now, making money off of its million ideas, so it makes sense that the original producers are out to join the fun -- everybody's cynically making money off of their film, why shouldn't they?


I have been waiting for this for too many years

I bought an HD-DVD player just for this.


quod erat demonstrandum
posted by matteo at 7:29 AM on September 3, 2007


FWIW I also liked the voiceover, for the noirish element. It was not necessary for exposition. However, its also ok without it, for more of a headscratcher of a movie. Ford's dull delivery actually helps it, if anything. When he tries to act, I think he becomes pretty laughable, actually. He just grimaces and points his finger a lot, mostly (although obviously that's not a problem with V/O)

I believe that the two versions of the movie can co-exist.

I choose not to believe Deckard is a replicant, despite his reflective eyes, et al, because he is clearly physically inferior to the Nexus 6 skinjobs. I mean, they fuck him up pretty good, beating him around & breaking his fingers & whatnot.

Maybe you could argue he's an earlier model, but I think that's getting into the area where you have to explain too much. I can't remember whether he was human in the novel.

Occam's razor says he's human.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 7:29 AM on September 3, 2007


Still no tits, though

Huh? Did you rent it from Blockbuster or something?
posted by dobbs at 7:31 AM on September 3, 2007


Brilliant production design, but kind of thin on plot, I've always thought.

Well, it is a Phillip K. Dick story. Electric Sheep was a full novel, granted, but Dick was never a big plotter: it was always character, character, character right down to the bone. He wrote people, and threw in a couple sci-fi ideas for them to bang their despair and existentialism and dull, wonderfully working-man reality against. In the book, Deckard was a schlub keeping up with the post-apocalyptic Joneses and trying to figure out how to deal with his wife and her dark mood-alteration habits; pretty much all the action in the story hit the screen, and then some, with mostly dialogue on the floor, and the whole thing is a little bit less funny (and less philosophically complicated) on the screen than it was as written.

Which tends to be how it goes with Dick adaptations, whether they come out good or not. I thought Minority Report was pretty solid too, but it started out as a like fifteen page short story, and only rough plot elements carry over to the film. And, again, the story as written was people and one big idea: precrime as applied science that wasn't quite ready.

Most overrated film ever? Ridley Scott doesn't understand human beings.

I have no idea how to respond to this. This whole movie is exactly and precisely about humans to a degree that most scifi never touches.
posted by cortex at 7:37 AM on September 3, 2007 [5 favorites]


quod erat demonstrandum

First few times I saw 2001, it was on smallish TV sets with meh speakers (or a couple times a decent little stereo) on VHS. It's a magnificent film, which you could get even from that setting, but when I finally got a chance to see a good print in a theater, it was just jaw-dropping. Just stunning.

As much as I find the Blu-Ray/HDDVD arms race and the forced obsolescence it represents kind of tiring and lame, I can't begrudge anyone wanting to see this movie on as good a transfer as they can manage. Some people actually genuinely like movies as something other than an excuse for to eat some popcorn.
posted by cortex at 7:41 AM on September 3, 2007


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 darkness at Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.

Blade runner is a movie that demands critical analysis, preferably with a group. If any of you have mixed feelings about it I suggest you watch the Director's Cut with some thoughtful friends and have a discussion of the movie's philosophy afterwards. You'll discover that the film has much more texture and depth than you may have imagined- it's subtextual to a degree that has been largely abandoned in modern cinema.
posted by baphomet at 7:43 AM on September 3, 2007


From the BR Wiki:
The original screenplay by Hampton Fancher was based loosely on Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which he optioned in 1980 after an unsuccessful previous attempt. However, Fancher's script focused more on environmental issues and less on issues of humanity and faith, which weighed heavily in the novel. When Ridley Scott became involved with the film, he wanted changes to the script made, and eventually hired David Peoples to perform the re-writes after Fancher refused. The film's title also changed several times during the writing process; it was to be called Dangerous Days in Fancher's last draft before eventually taking the title Blade Runner, borrowed (with permission) from a William S. Burroughs treatment of Alan E. Nourse's science fiction novel The Bladerunner (1974).

As a result of Fancher's divergence from the novel, numerous re-writes before and throughout shooting the film, and the fact that Ridley Scott never entirely read the novel on which the film was based, the film diverged significantly from its original inspiration. Some of the themes in the novel that were minimized or entirely removed include: fertility/sterility of the population, religion, mass media, Deckard's uncertainty that he is human, and real versus synthetic pets and emotions.

Philip K. Dick refused an offer of $400,000 to write a novelization of the Blade Runner screenplay, saying "[I was] told the cheapo novelization would have to appeal to the twelve-year-old audience" and "[it] would have probably been disastrous to me artistically." He added, "That insistence on my part of bringing out the original novel and not doing the novelization — they were just furious. They finally recognized that there was a legitimate reason for reissuing the novel, even though it cost them money. It was a victory not just of contractual obligations but of theoretical principles." In the end, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was reprinted for a time as a movie tie-in with the film poster as a cover and the original title in parenthesis below the Blade Runner title.

The producers of the film arranged for a screening of some special effects rough cuts for Philip K. Dick shortly before he died in early 1982. Despite his well known skepticism of Hollywood in principle, he became quite enthusiastic about the film. He 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." He also approved of the film's script, saying, "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 film also draws upon We Can Build You, another of Dick's novels. In chapter 3 of We Can Build You, another character named Pris is described as wearing "odd make-up, eyes outlined in black, a harlequin effect, and almost purple lipstick; the whole color scheme made her appear unreal and doll-like." This description inspired the make-up worn by Pris in Blade Runner.
posted by chuckdarwin at 7:49 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Here's the new trailer if no one has linked to it yet.
posted by octothorpe at 7:53 AM on September 3, 2007


Did he fix [...] some of the horrendous fx flubs, like [...] Joanna Cassidy's totally obvious stunt double with a fright wig crashing thru' the candy glass?

Joanna Cassidy completed her reshoots earlier this year.
posted by Prospero at 7:55 AM on September 3, 2007


Propero, either you're kidding or she is in some seriously good shape 25 years later. Diet and exercise, eh?
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:00 AM on September 3, 2007


but why didn't they just post armed guards all around Tyrell's office?

For what reason? Roy got one Tyrell's trusted engineers to get him inside, then Tyrell let them in himself. I always assumed that Tyrell realized that Roy was with Sebastian when he let the elevator come up, as he realized the chess moves were unlike Sebastian.

Thematically it works 'cause Roy got to see his creator (i.e. God) and then kill him for the fucked up position he put Roy in.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:01 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


octothorpe, you just got me all excited.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:02 AM on September 3, 2007


"There will be three spectacular editions; Two-Disc Special Edition, Four-Disc Collectors Edition and the awesome Five-Disc Ultimate Collectors Edition with a collectible 'Deckard Briefcase' included."

We need to get the WWE scriptwriters to stop writing ad copy.
posted by WCityMike at 8:05 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I hear Scott has tampered the Zhora shot in the back sequence, or at least 'fixed' it with computers. I for one simply cannot wait for this, it's one of the holy grails for film nerds along with Welle's 'Other Side of the Wind' and the 'lost' Esienstein film he made in Mexico in the 1920's. Scott has gone back to the original workprint he had before the studio fucked it up and replaced some scenes - not sure if we'll get the Holden hospital scene that's out their on youtube but judging by the trailer we have the dancers in hockey masks - so maybe more tits, Avenger

Here is a very in-depth analysis of the movie which may whet your appetite.
posted by Mintyblonde at 8:08 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Ten years ago fan boys would have wet themselves with excitement about a new edit. But now, after the terrible Lucas re-edits, Spielberg destroying his own films, and the meh Blade Runner Director's Cut... Well, maybe it'd be better if they left the film alone.

I'd love to see a bold new writer and director take on making a new movie out of the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? There's a lot of interesting ideas in that novel that are entirely left out of Ridley Scott's film. The characters own disconnect from reality, the freaky religion of Mercerism, the politics of who is left behind on Earth. It'd make for a really interesting movie and a clever challenge given how important a film Blade Runner is. Damn sight better than remaking Psycho.
posted by Nelson at 8:08 AM on September 3, 2007


Hm. That fifth disc does look interesting:

Disc 5 - Workprint Version - This rare version of the film is considered by some to be the most radically different of all the Blade Runner cuts. It includes an altered opening scene, no Deckard narration until the final scenes, no "unicorn" sequence, no Deckard/Rachel "happy ending," altered lines between Rutger Hauer and his creator Tyrell (Joe Turkell), alternate music and much more.
posted by WCityMike at 8:08 AM on September 3, 2007


Metafilter's own Adam Savage on Why the Sci-Fi F/X [in BR] Are Still Unsurpassed
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:09 AM on September 3, 2007


Metafilter: More Human Than Human is our motto
posted by Flashman at 8:09 AM on September 3, 2007


I can not WAIT for this to come out on DVD. I bought an HD-DVD player just for this.

Does it say in one of the linked articles that it's coming out on HD-DVD?
posted by jonson at 8:10 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Wow, Prospero, I thought you were joking. Now I am happy.

Yeah, chuckdarwin, she *is* in good shape. She is seriously one of the more beautiful and classy actresses of a generation, IMHO. Talented, too, she has a cool poise and steeliness in her acting that is pretty impressive. It is a pity she hasn't been given more decent work over the years. I dug her on Enterprise, though.

Besides, if those reshoots are the breaking thru glass bit, you don't really have to see closeups.

She looks pretty damn good for an older broad. Must be, what, in her fifties?

On Brandon's point, yeah, Tyrell knew that the Replicants were coming back, and he let it happen. He probably thought he could 'talk them down'. He was wrong.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 8:12 AM on September 3, 2007


Nelson, you left out the Penfield Mood Organ, one of Dick's coolest gadgets.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:12 AM on September 3, 2007


I want a Voigt-Kampff machine. That would be a cool movie prop to own. I've never been big on that sort of thing, but I love that device.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 8:14 AM on September 3, 2007


I choose not to believe Deckard is a replicant, despite his reflective eyes, et al, because he is clearly physically inferior to the Nexus 6 skinjobs. I mean, they fuck him up pretty good, beating him around & breaking his fingers & whatnot.

Maybe you could argue he's an earlier model, but I think that's getting into the area where you have to explain too much. I can't remember whether he was human in the novel.


We are told that the Nexus 6's are specifically intended for offworld work (assassins, commandos, etc.), and they are also a newer model, so it makes sense that they'd be stronger and faster. I don't think that's explaining too much, the information is there in the film.

It can also be seen as not coincidental that there is a substantial physical resemblance between Holden (the blade runner questioning Leon at the start of the film) and Deckard. They are both replicants, and probably the same model (and Gaff is clearly either also a replicant, or knows that Deckard is, hence "you've done a man's job sir", the origami unicorn and other things).

I guess it's possible to believe that Deckard isn't a replicant if you've only seen the original theatrical release, but (to me) such a big part of the story arc of the DC is Deckard coming to the realization that he is a replicant (he at least suspects it at first, which is why he says "how can it not know what it is" about Rachael, and why he's so resigned-but-disgusted by Rachael's implanted memories). Part of the beauty of the film is the subtle and intertwined ways in which Deckard's hunt for the escaped replicants leads him to makes the unwelcome discoveries about himself and (as is also the case with Battlestar Galactica), the irony of the fact that the characters with the most humanity are often the non-human ones.
posted by biscotti at 8:15 AM on September 3, 2007


I'm one of those dweebs who'll watch films simply for the visual ecstacy involved. Just saw Scott's The Duelists for the first time and, I swear, there are shots in it that are like George de la Tour's paintings. Gorgeous deep shadows, snooted portrait glows, liquid backlight.

Scott's just one of many extravagantly talented directors in this regard, but he's clearly one of the best of our time.

To this, I'd suggest that Blade Runner has gifted the visual repertoire in ways that weren't dependent on cutting-edge FX, just Scott's irresistibly compelling sense of visual metaphor. Fires bursting over the curve of an iris, Pris reaching in 'boiling' water for an egg, glowing umbrella shafts sparkling with rain. Etcetera. And those are just mine, but I've seen allusions, parodies, homages and thefts of these and more ever since.
posted by Haruspex at 8:19 AM on September 3, 2007


I see that. I guess I'm just married to the original version, which I saw in the theatres at first release.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 8:20 AM on September 3, 2007


Here's the deleted Holden-as-Oompha-Loompa scene. I wouldn't bet we'll see it in the director's cut.

Chalk up another vote for the voice-over and the green concluding outtake. I like 'em both.

But chalk-up a vote against the Deckard as replicant thing. The whole issue is a red-herring, but the worst assumption is that it would be a big deal or particularly meaningful if Deckard were to be revealed as in a literal sense a replicant. That sort of misses the film's point imho.
posted by washburn at 8:21 AM on September 3, 2007


but it's great that everybody has been ripping off this film for 25 years now

You clearly have no fucking idea of the history of Blade Runner. Bud Yorkin and Jerry Perenchio were the completion bond guarantors of the film. When it went overbudget, they got hit with the tab... and acquired the film.

And they hate the film, and hate Scott. Especially Perenchio. They hate it so much that they have consistently refused to give their assent to any reworkings, or even to just putting out a dvd with a cleaner transfer. They can afford to do this because Perenchio, at least, is a billionaire.

And no, they're not protecting the artistic integrity of the film from Scott. Perenchio just hates the movie and Scott. Perenchio is also the genius who brought Sabado Gigante to the world, which is a hint that he would not know artistic integrity if it were sodomizing him while holding a sign reading I AM ARTISTIC INTEGRITY in large cheerful letters in front of his face as its booming voice screamed "THIS IS ARTISTIC INTEGRITY SODOMIZING YOU NOW."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:25 AM on September 3, 2007 [6 favorites]


It's like Decker always said, get busy living or get busy with a replicant.

I look forward to this, actually. Hopefully that god-awful hospital scene will remain on the cutting room floor, though.
posted by maxwelton at 8:27 AM on September 3, 2007


I always thought that the thing about Blade Runner was that it was a good film that managed to convince its audience that it was a great film.
posted by rhymer at 8:34 AM on September 3, 2007


Deckard being a replicant makes no sense whatsoever. It makes no plot sense, it makes no thematic sense. It's simply something to make Ridley Scott and others go "Oooh, DEEP!" for a few seconds because there's no way to think about it for more than a few seconds and still think it makes sense for Deckard to be a Replicant.

More here.
posted by Legomancer at 8:38 AM on September 3, 2007


Oh, and also the obligatory joke:

In this new version, the unicorn dreams of Deckard first.
posted by Legomancer at 8:38 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]



I have no idea how to respond to this. This whole movie is exactly and precisely about humans to a degree that most scifi never touches.
posted by cortex at 7:37 AM on September 3 [1 favorite +] [!]


the biggest divergence between the book and the movie (in my mind) is that in the book, the replicants are weak, foolish, and clumsy, like children. in the movie they are ubermenschen.

that and the farm animal fetish...
posted by geos at 8:40 AM on September 3, 2007


I don;t see the fascination with making Deckard a replicant, it makes the story so much less interesting. WIth deckard as a rather weaselly human we get him clashing with a superior-in-every wya replicant but ultimately surviving becuase the replicant is more humane than the real human. With him as a replicnat... well, it's sort oif an okay Twilight Zone style twist ending, but ultimately a bit crap.
posted by Artw at 8:55 AM on September 3, 2007


"THIS IS ARTISTIC INTEGRITY SODOMIZING YOU NOW."

Hmm. Very Mark Millar.
posted by Artw at 8:57 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Does it say in one of the linked articles that it's coming out on HD-DVD?

http://www.highdefdigest.com/news/show/634
posted by papercake at 9:10 AM on September 3, 2007


I can't begrudge anyone wanting to see this movie on as good a transfer as they can manage.

ah, me neither. what I find hilarious is that I saw the original Blade Runner twice -- when it came out, in a movie theatre. and then, a year later or something, on videotape at a friend's house. it was on Betamax.

and we all know what happened to Betamax -- the same thing that will happen to either HDDVD or BluRay.

as an early adopter of a big plasma TV, I'm somebody who spends enough money on quick-to-become-obsolete shit that I reclaim the right to call out the industry on its most shameless money-grubbing schemes. the constant re-issue of "director's cuts" deleted scenes, etc, of popuar and/or cult movies to make a quick buck off of fans so that they'll have to upgrade to the new new format is really quite sad.

and by the way, the human/replicant thing is easy: PKD and the original screenwriter wrote Deckard as human. Ford, obviously, that most unsubtle of actors, played Deckard as human because which actor wants to play a robot.

but Ridley Scott sees Deckard as a replicant -- he's on the record. and it's his film, not PKD's or Ford's.
posted by matteo at 9:13 AM on September 3, 2007


"With Deckard as a rather weaselly human we get him clashing with a superior-in-every way replicant but ultimately surviving because the replicant is more humane than the real human."

Exactly.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 9:13 AM on September 3, 2007


I think the beauty of this movie is that we're still having this discussion so many years later. Now, that's my definition of a good movie.

I think the question of the humanity of Deckard cannot be answered definitively from the content of the movie itself, Scott's statement notwithstanding. And I think it's better that way.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 9:15 AM on September 3, 2007


As for Harrison Ford playing a robot.. he always does.

/rimshot
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 9:16 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


cortex writes "Well, it is a Phillip K. Dick story."

Can't believe it took that long for mention of the author.

"This whole movie is exactly and precisely about humans to a degree that most scifi never touches."

Exactly. Thank you.

Nothing to add, but thanks for posting what I was thinking.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:19 AM on September 3, 2007


One scene I'd like them to take out: when Roy and Deckard are climbing around in the building they go out on the roof. They disturb a bunch of pigeons. It has been implied throughout the movie that almost all the animals on Earth are dead (which is a major theme in the book). People collect them as pets--even android ones like the owl at the beginning.

Live pigeons would be worth a fortune, and there is no way they'd just be hanging out on the top of an almost abandoned building.
posted by Xoc at 9:33 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


matteo writes "the constant re-issue of 'director's cuts' deleted scenes, etc, of popuar and/or cult movies to make a quick buck off of fans so that they'll have to upgrade to the new new format is really quite sad."

That's true, but in this case there are quite a few people who are waiting for this particular release, and have been for more than two decades.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:39 AM on September 3, 2007


They did actual physical reshoots for Blade Runner 25 years after release? Is that some sort of record?
posted by Justinian at 9:51 AM on September 3, 2007


  1. Director's Cut > Original
  2. Voiceover = Sucks
  3. Another director's cut? Jebus. Well, at least it's (so far) better than the Friday the 13th series, which has (so far) produced two movies whose titles indicate that they are the "final" movie, neither of which is actually the final movie
  4. Yes, I'm going to see it. Damn you, Ridley Scott.
posted by Flunkie at 9:53 AM on September 3, 2007


With Deckard as a rather weaselly human we get him clashing with a superior-in-every way replicant but ultimately surviving because the replicant is more humane than the real human.

We still get that, because replicants are humans. Strong humans, sure. Emotionally immature humans, sure. Short-lived humans, sure. But just as human as you or me. Only, replicants have been altered just enough that we can call them something else and enslave them. And, really, the society we see in Blade Runner is exactly the sort of shitty, grinding dystopia that we'd expect a society that pulls a legalistic cop-out to reinstate slavery to look like.

Arguably, Pris and Zhora and Leon are more bundles of fear and reactions than fully sentient humans. I don't really buy this myself, but hey. If Roy isn't fully human at the beginning, he becomes human through his struggle with Deckard, his choices during it, and what those choices tell him.

To deal with some of the points the linked scree makes:

If Deckard is a replicant, presumably built to hunt other replicants, why does he suck at it?

Because the people in charge don't give a shit how good he is; they just don't want to do it themselves. Deckard as a replicant isn't a Terminator-style ubermensch -- he's just cheaper than a "real" person. If he fucks up and gets killed, so what? We have more in the tanks, and they'll all be dead soon anyhow.

what does it mean to be human? I agree about this underlying question. However, I would argue that it only matters if Deckard is human. With Deckard human, we contrast his own machine-like, emotionless life with that of the actual machines.

Nope. The movie tells us what it is to be human: to have enough experiential background to make moral choices. Deckard does this upfront because he has the implanted memories. Roy does this at the end because he's experienced enough and learned enough. If you want, the contrast is between Roy and {Leon and Pris and Zhora}, who are clever enough but don't seem to have learned real empathy.

Or, the contrast is between shitbags like Bryant on the one hand and the various replicants on the other. Say what you like about Deckard as a machine; he's always still far more engaged, humane, and human than Bryant is, or than Tyrell is. It's Bryant and Tyrell that have unlearned empathy and unlearned their humanity.

We then are confronted with the idea that the replicants risk and lose it all just to get a taste of the bleak existence that Deckard takes for granted.

And we see Deckard and Rachel with everything they've taken for granted, including their very lifespans, taken away. They run away into the night to spend their last -- weeks? few years? -- on the run as free people because they know now that they have to.

If this is all just the adventures of a bunch of machines, who cares? What difference does it make?

This misses the point. The point is that there are no machines... just humans.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:59 AM on September 3, 2007 [6 favorites]


The (incessant) argument over whether Deckard is a replicant has always struck me as completely missing the point.

Whether Deckard is a replicant or not is not important.

What is important is that Deckard has no real way of knowing.

That's the entire point of the movie.
posted by Flunkie at 10:03 AM on September 3, 2007 [12 favorites]


the constant re-issue of "director's cuts" deleted scenes, etc, of popuar and/or cult movies to make a quick buck off of fans so that they'll have to upgrade to the new new format is really quite sad

Sure. But as near as I can tell, Blade Runner has had the following dvd releases in the US:

(1) Director's cut w/shitty laserdisc transfer (1997)
(2) Director's cut w/cleaner, anamorphic transfer (2006, after they had announced the upcoming box sets)
(3) New box sets (this December).

That's it. I don't see what you're bitching about, unless it's last year's release. That would be shitty, except they'd already told the world to expect the full-on editions in 2007 so it's not like they're really luring fans in.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:09 AM on September 3, 2007


Live pigeons would be worth a fortune, and there is no way they'd just be hanging out on the top of an almost abandoned building.

Yeah, but the best fake pigeons would act exactly like real pigeons, eg: hanging out and crapping on architecture. Besides, who buys pigeons of any sort? They've probably been fitted with cams and sold at wholesale to a security firm.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:15 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I can't begrudge anyone wanting to see this movie on as good a transfer as they can manage.

I agree, but this will not be Blade Runner. This will be something else, very probably edited to be something inferior. Nostalgia is anathema to change.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:17 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


If he fucks up and gets killed, so what? We have more in the tanks, and they'll all be dead soon anyhow.

Not necessarily- the Nexus 6 is the first model with a built-in life span.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:18 AM on September 3, 2007


Ha ha! I remember buying this really ugly button-up shirt at Zellers when this movie came out, thinking it looked a lot like Deckard's. And then I walked around and mumbled things and got beat up too.
posted by stinkycheese at 10:27 AM on September 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


but in this case there are quite a few people who are waiting for this particular release, and have been for more than two decades.

that's how you convince people to adopt a new expensive format -- by using huge events (and BR is not a blockbuster, per se, but has a huge cult following) as a battering ram to convince otherwise reluctant people to upgrade.

I mean, how many of you guys bought a BluRay player or a PS3 just to watch Talladega Nights?
posted by matteo at 10:30 AM on September 3, 2007


Not necessarily- the Nexus 6 is the first model with a built-in life span.

I meant that the Nexus Sixes will all die off soon enough anyway.

I mean, how many of you guys bought a BluRay player or a PS3 just to watch Talladega Nights?

BR is probably going to be the thing that pushes us over the edge, but it's not like we're going to get an HDDVD or PS3 just for BR.

alt.binaries.hdtv.x264 has ripped, transcoded versions of lots of hd discs and transport streams. Watching the start of Pitch Black in 720p is awesome, even after it's been transcoded and had its bitrate chopped to fit in,
IIRC, a DVD5. And Alien in 1080p is visually a different movie from the DVD versions, good as they are -- even after it's been downrezzed and had its bitrate chopped and scaled to fit on a 1680x1050 monitor.

So when we get an HD deck, it'll be for BR... and Alien... and The Conversation... and LotR... and Galactica... and all that stuff, at least after the format issue solves itself. And if we happen to go for a PS3, it'll also be for Katamari and Guitar Hero.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:10 AM on September 3, 2007


Blah blah blah. If you really like the Deckard-as-replicant them, then read the freakin' novel, particularly the scene where he gets pulled into the parallel-universe police station and is administered the parallel-universe Voigt-Kampff test. It's a creepy moment of schizophrenic disassociation that's way more emotionally interesting than some film wankery game about shiny eyes.
posted by Nelson at 11:35 AM on September 3, 2007


Hmm, I always hated that section of the book Nelson. It seems tacked on from a different book; it doesn't really fit in with the rest of Androids.
posted by octothorpe at 11:55 AM on September 3, 2007


It cheers me immensely that a 25-year-old science-fiction film can still inspire this level of (mostly good-natured) bickering here in the blue. I loved this movie instantly when I first saw it, and for me it's right up there with Citizen Kane, Alexander Nevsky and Casablanca.

And yes, the novel is irreplaceable too, but comparing Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? to Blade Runner is a bit like comparing the Bernard Malamud novel The Natural to its 1984 film counterpart: Both are achievements in their respective genres, different visions inspired by ideas held in common, but outside of an ENG 102 or film appreciation class, there's little to be gained by attempting to compare novel with film treatment thereof other than to say that both cases belie the quip "Never judge a book by its movie."
posted by pax digita at 11:57 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I saw this film when it first came out, when I was first working in television broadcasting in Portland Oregon.

Walking out of the theater and into that 37 degree, 2 month long Portland drizzle made the film seem all the more real to me.

By the time the "oh my god you've got to see this, Ridley Scott's released his version of BR!!! This changes everything!!" came out, I had already seen it so many times that I was plugging in the voice overs myself.

No, seeing the real unicorn in Deckard's dream didn't add anything, or, even worse, reveal anything.

Years later, working in the game industry in Seattle, one of the art guys blew my productivity for the afternoon by mentioning the "Deckard is a replicant" angle.

That's when my opinion of Ridley Scott really started to go down hill.

The guy has a rep for being a real egotist, and viewing everyone else in the production as fools who are there for his betterment/aggrandizement ... and like a lot of people in The Industry like that, they're usually acting like that to cover for their own failings.

So here we are, with this great work of Art from Mr. Scott, where he deigns to show us, the little people, some astonishing Truth via his cinematic art, and you'd think he'd be a little more fucking clear about a minor plot point like, oh, the protagonist is a god damn replicant.

And his whole attitude (one of, 'ooh it's there, if you're smart enough to see it!') just makes it even worse.

Imagine if Bryan singer had come out a decade after The Usual Suspects was released and said, "Oh no, Chazz Palminteri was actually Kaiser Sosze. See, you can tell, if you're smart enough, by noting that how he tipped his coffee cup blah blah blah ... "

But on balance, what Washburn and others have said ...

To me, the movie was just fine and succeeded without Deckard being a replicant.

What the movie was about, for me, was by trying to define what is not human, we define what being human is.

This was essentially one of the "points" of Wim Wender's "Wings of Desire", and one of the things that makes films like this so interesting.

I'll probably end up buying the full zoot, five disc release in the briefcase (and I guess their marketing is, on some level working), and I still find the film fascinating on a bunch of levels, but ultimately, the film fails in the most major of ways (not expounding on the major point of the protagonist being that which he is hunting) but it succeeds in all other ways (the production design etc.).

And yeah it would have been so much cooler if they had packaged it in a Voight-Kampf machine rather than a briefcase.

That was a real B+ answer as well.
posted by Relay at 11:57 AM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


What is important is that Deckard has no real way of knowing. That's the entire point of the movie.

I was growing ever more frustrated with this thread until Flunkie bailed it out with that comment.

That the film can be interpreted in several ways, that it raises questions and inspires thoughtful conversations is what elevates it from a good move to a great work of art.

The act of considering the true nature of Deckard is a pleasant and interesting. Those who want an authoritative answer are, like Scott himself, fucking up the film.

So cut it out!
posted by aladfar at 12:07 PM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I think part of the problem with the "Deckard: replicant or not?" controversy, is that Harrison Ford cannot act, so it's natural to assume he's playing the role of a robot. The stupid unicorn dream sequence in the Director's Cut is just awful. We don't need any clues to exclaim "He's a replicant!" Whether he is or not is not the point at all.

Loved the Vangelis soundtrack. It was constantly in my CD player during the 90s when I lived in rural Japan.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:13 PM on September 3, 2007


Sorry, should have read aladfar before posting. Makes my post sort of redundant.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:14 PM on September 3, 2007


So here we are, with this great work of Art from Mr. Scott, where he deigns to show us, the little people, some astonishing Truth via his cinematic art, and you'd think he'd be a little more fucking clear about a minor plot point like, oh, the protagonist is a god damn replicant.

Yeah, a rule of thumb I've heard (normally applied to Shakespeare), and which seems Damn Fine, is that the difference between a subplot or theme in a work that someone is just imagineering into existance (and they have every right, just don't demand that I share their same imagination) vs a theme that the work really does actually support, is that when someone points it out after the fact, if with the benefit of hindsight it's clearly there then the point is valid and you just missed it. If with the benefit of hindsight, it's not clear, then either it's just someone's imagination (and/or the work/artist has failed at that level).

So I cast my vote with the best theme being that Deckard can't be sure. The work supports that quite well, and fails to support much more than that.

Interestingly for me though, everyone talks about unicorns and dreams and redeye and shit. But the convincing part for me was the way Deckard cradled his photographs. The replicants all clung to their photos in the same way. I seem to be in the minority of finding that scene waaay more convincing than the unicorn stuff.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:00 PM on September 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


The replicants all clung to their photos in the same way.

Yeah, that's true harlequin, but isn't that true for people in general.

I remember reading that in house fires, if people have time, the first thing they try to rescue is photo albums.
posted by Relay at 1:04 PM on September 3, 2007


Six San Francisco mayoral candidates are administered a Voight-Kampff test

My personal favorite, from the one and only candidate who recognized that this was from Blade Runner:

"You’re in a desert walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down, and you see a tortoise, Tom, it’s crawling toward you. You reach down, you flip the tortoise over on its back, Tom. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can’t, not without your help. But you’re not helping. Why is that, Tom?"

"That’s interesting. I don’t know. I’m a republican?"
posted by Flunkie at 1:11 PM on September 3, 2007 [9 favorites]


"inferior to the original -- director's cut"

redundant
posted by vronsky at 1:34 PM on September 3, 2007


Yeah, that's true harlequin, but isn't that true for people in general.

Not people I've seen. It wasn't as if "oh, I wouldn't want these to get damaged", it was as if "I have to touch these, every day, look at them, make sure they're still real. They're all I have - all to make sure I'm still real". Yes, people value photos, but the way the replicants treated them was more like a fetish object or lifeline.
posted by -harlequin- at 1:35 PM on September 3, 2007


So I cast my vote with the best theme being that Deckard can't be sure. The work supports that quite well, and fails to support much more than that.

I think we can't be sure in the original, and it's more interesting thematically if he's not a replicant or we're not sure, but I think he's definitely a replicant in the director's cut. His eyes glow, the same as the replicants' and android animals' eyes and unlike anything else in the film. He has a dream about a unicorn, then Gaff makes the origami unicorn. It'd be a freaky coincidence in real life if I dreamt about a unicorn and someone made an origami unicorn, but in a movie those scenes are there for a reason, and in the specific context of implanted memories. Given the language of filmmaking (plus the director's stated intent), he's a replicant.
posted by kirkaracha at 1:59 PM on September 3, 2007


Most overrated film ever? Ridley Scott doesn't understand human beings.
posted by dydecker

wow. so close to eponysterical, I have to wonder...

...eponysterical or replicant?
posted by humannaire at 2:03 PM on September 3, 2007


About that unicorn ...

For me, it worked much better in the original release, rather than in the "improved" director's cut.

To me, having Deckard find the unicorn, and more importantly his reaction to it in the context of getting Rachael, makes a lot more sense generally and as a final set piece in the narrative.

Deckard's reaction, a shrug and half-smile while examining the origami seemed to say, "Yeah, figures. Gaff was here, and for what ever reasons, decided not to killer her. A unicorn. Sure. That's what you think Gaff"

Gaff leaving the unicorn meant to me that Gaff was, like most cops in most cop movies, a deeply cynical guy.

For him, love and happiness and all that kind of stuff was just a bunch of BS. Some arcane terms that didn't apply in his world, the "real world" as law enforcement would have us believe.

Looking for love was like looking for unicorns: a fallacy and a waste of one's time, and he was letting Deckard know it as a parting shot.
posted by Relay at 2:16 PM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, Deckard was so totally a replicant.

And I know Sean Young was a bit crazy (though who wouldn't be if they dated a nut like James Woods), but wasn't she BEAUTIFUL?
posted by jfwlucy at 2:32 PM on September 3, 2007


Biscotti: ...the irony of the fact that the characters with the most humanity are often the non-human ones.
Rou:...replicants are humans. Strong humans, sure. Emotionally immature humans, sure. Short-lived humans, sure. But just as human as you or me.
No,no,no, NO goddammit! The point is that empathy is what makes beings human. These things lack empathy, hence are not human. Got that? Sure, the movie is confused about this -- especially the ending, which is a complete fraud and changing it may go some way toward redeeming this schlock -- but it still states the premise. The fact that we have some feeling for these creatures is proof of our own humanity.
Alien is a much better movie than Blade Runner.
posted by CCBC at 2:48 PM on September 3, 2007


All and all, a wonderful restoration of the original film. Unlike what Lucas did with the Star Wars Special Editions, the changes are subtle enough where you can enjoy them.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:22 PM on September 3, 2007


CCBC - You don't think Roy Batty showed any empathy at the ending? Or is Roy Batty showing empathy why you call the ending a fraud?

Personally, I consider it incredibly powerful.
posted by Justinian at 4:28 PM on September 3, 2007


No,no,no, NO goddammit! The point is that empathy is what makes beings human. These things lack empathy, hence are not human. Got that? Sure, the movie is confused about this -- especially the ending, which is a complete fraud
This is absurd.

"I know these things aren't human! Because... they don't have empathy! What's that you say? The most empathetic character in the movie was one of these things? Well that's a fraud! Because these things don't have empathy! Because they're not human!"
posted by Flunkie at 6:18 PM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Those famous last lines of Roy Batty's were written by Rutger Hauer. He was disappointed in Batty's death scene so the night before they shot that scene he came up with those lines. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion is a scientific impossibility (can't have fire in the vacuum of space) but the rhythm of the lines, the weight and the way Hauer delivers it, still the most quoted part of the movie.
posted by Ber at 8:06 PM on September 3, 2007


These things lack empathy, hence are not human.

One of them unexpectedly gains empathy via experience in contrast to the protagonist who appears to be losing empathy through experience. The voight-kamf test becomes no longer 100%, and the line between human and machine is blurred. That's kind of the point.

Now if you want to argue that machines can't feel empathy ever on account of their machineness -that's a whole different philosophical can of worms. Clearly, within this movie, it isn't the case.

"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be very careful what we pretend to be"
posted by Sparx at 8:17 PM on September 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


A thought just struck me:

There should be an IRC channel where people can go and argue forever about whether Deckard is a replicant or not. This channel should have three chatbots; one argues that Deckard is a replicant; one argues that he isn't; the last argues that the other two are missing the point.

And, of course, no one can ever be sure if the chatbots really are bots or not.
posted by jiawen at 8:23 PM on September 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


All These Moments, the Rutger Hauer autobiogaphy, kind of busts that... IIRC he cut the lines down to size and added the lost in time like tears in the rain bit but most of what hit the screen was in the script.

Oh, and he's firmly in the deckard-is-not-a-replicant camp, on the grounds that Deckard is crap and Roy Batty is teh awesome. His take is that by the end the replicnat has learnt to feel something, but theres a lot of mimicry and learned sentiment in the final speech as well.

I wih I had it here with me to quote really, but then I'd blow your main reason for finding and reading the book (oh, that and the fact that Rutgeur lives in a container truck he drives from set to set with a motorcycle in the back for excursions. Awesome squared!)
posted by Artw at 8:26 PM on September 3, 2007


Oh dear. An aint-it-cool endorsement. Eject! Eject!
posted by Artw at 8:28 PM on September 3, 2007


Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion is a scientific impossibility (can't have fire in the vacuum of space)

Sure you can, for as long as the ship is outgassing oxygen. If it's a big ship with a few holes in it, it could spew fire for quite a while. In real life, Mir managed to have quite a merry fire going at one point though I don't think they dumped it to vacuum.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:01 PM on September 3, 2007


Boy, Deckard sure has a lot of photos on his piano, doesn't he?
posted by Scoo at 9:05 PM on September 3, 2007


No matter what they say, Deckard is not a replicant.
posted by disgruntled at 9:52 PM on September 3, 2007


Actually Ber and ROU_Xenophobe, I always took the "Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion" line to be a positional thing, not a literal thing.

As if you were standing on the ground, and looking at the constellation Orion in the background, and in the foreground, there is an attack ship on fire, just to the upper left or right of the constellation.

It's sort of like saying, "I saw an airplane in the cup of the Big Dipper."
posted by Relay at 10:06 PM on September 3, 2007


No,no,no, NO goddammit! The point is that empathy is what makes beings human. These things lack empathy, hence are not human. Got that? Sure, the movie is confused about this -- especially the ending, which is a complete fraud and changing it may go some way toward redeeming this schlock -- but it still states the premise. The fact that we have some feeling for these creatures is proof of our own humanity.
This plot device is significant in the book, but completely written out of the movie. I don't think it makes sense to blur this distinction, they are different stories.
posted by cj_ at 10:22 PM on September 3, 2007


The Deckard as replicant thing is interesting because it reminds me of the wrong question that everybody asked after "Total Recall".
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:51 PM on September 3, 2007


Live pigeons would be worth a fortune, and there is no way they'd just be hanging out on the top of an almost abandoned building.

I enjoyed that moment and thought it was actually deliberate irony -- them (one or both not actually human) trying to kill one another in the midst of those so-rare living flesh-and-blood (and so priceless even in their banality) animals.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:09 PM on September 3, 2007


Thank you, Metafilter. Thank you for this discussion. :)
posted by snwod at 12:00 AM on September 4, 2007


Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion...

Since the first time I saw that movie, I wanted to be able to similarly reel off a bunch of Amazing Stuff that I've witnessed... but years later, I'm still not sure I've got anything in the same league as attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.

I guess I need to get out more.
posted by -harlequin- at 12:22 AM on September 4, 2007


Not sure about Ridley Scott - though I have watched the 'original' and the Director's Cut several times (I'm a sucker for any sci-fi) - but Philip K Dick always leaves me wondering: what the hell? In The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, you're never sure what's real and what's a Chew-Z(TM) trip. In Clans Of The Alphane Moon, the concept of sanity itself is called into question. I could go on.

But despite all that, he writes characters that are just so normal and human, adrift on this sea of uncertainty we call life. Going through divorces, getting into debt, all that down and dirty stuff we can't escape.

The true genius at work here, and the real reason everyone is still talking about Deckard, Pris, et al, is Philip K Dick. Let us all salute the great one.
posted by Myeral at 1:19 AM on September 4, 2007


Yeap. Phil was the business.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 1:35 AM on September 4, 2007


Full disclosure up front. I love Blade Runner. The movie. The version everyone's been saying for years sucked. I love it. As I remember seeing it. No, I haven't read the book. I haven't wanted to all these years cuz I fear reading the book may adversely affect my fond memories of the film. I regret watching George Lucas' bastardization of Star Wars. He made it 'pretty' when it was supposed to be rough and haggard and feel just a bit off. I didn't want him to FIX it. Why fix something that wasn't broke? The bastard.

Han Solo SO shot first! He's a liar and a thief! What you expect? I'm disappointed now that he allegedly didn't shoot first. That doesn't make him a hero. Makes him slow.

I'll probably watch the new version of Blade Runner when it hits DVD. I'll hate myself for doing it.

With that said, I empathize and respect those who read the book first and then the movie and wanted to rip out Ridley Scott's tonsils. I don't blame you. If whoever directs the Teen Titans movie admits in public that he never read the work done by Wolfman & Perez back in the 1980s, I may have a price put on that director's head. It's the principal of the thing.

So is there some reason why Hollywood can't take the actual Philip K Dick book and make a film out of it? It might help if they hired a director who had actually read the damned thing. That would be a good start.

I understand that Hollywood takes liberties with source material. I have no problem with that. Blade Runner may have captured, for some, a sense of the world Philip K Dick was going for, but for a great number of fans of both film and books, Blade Runner failed to deliver as an adaptation.

If we can see remakes of Adams Family and Brady Bunch, we're way overdue for a revisitation to "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep."

Deckard wasn't a replicant. Harrison Ford's acting has always been that stiff and stoic. He just looks fake cuz that's how he was performing thru the film.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:14 AM on September 4, 2007


principal = principle.

Dang.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:16 AM on September 4, 2007


So is there some reason why Hollywood can't take the actual Philip K Dick book and make a film out of it?

One reason is that Dick books are, in my limited experience, confused messes with some good Big Ideas floating on a sea of vague psychedelia. If anything, it makes more sense to rip out the good ideas and vague plot elements and graft them into a story that's more sensible or streamlined.

Also, in 1982 Dick hadn't become the literarily acceptable face of SF yet, so only a few people would have been looking forward to seeing their favorite novel put on the screen. Lord of the Rings this wasn't.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:26 AM on September 4, 2007


Yeah, I consider Dick a brilliant author -- and a terrible writer.
posted by RavinDave at 4:41 AM on September 4, 2007


So is there some reason why Hollywood can't take the actual Philip K Dick book and make a film out of it?

The film of Through a Scanner Darkly is pretty much a literal take on the book. It worked well, I liked the movie, but it was too weird and depressing to be much of a success.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is a very big, rangy book full of lots of ideas. If you tried to make them all into one movie you'd have a mess. Part of what's great about Blade Runner as a film is that it extracts a basic action story out of it but managed to incorporate a fair number of scenic grace notes.
posted by Nelson at 6:18 AM on September 4, 2007


I'd second Scanner Darkly - it still messes with stuff a little though.

Of the short story adaptations Screamers is pretty good. Most of them just take a premise and wrap a generic chase/action movie around it though, then usual dump the twist ending for something nonsensical or dull - see Minority Report.
posted by Artw at 7:33 AM on September 4, 2007


That was Edward James Olmos? *slaps forehead* It's amazing how many times you can see a movie and miss the most basic things.
posted by phaedon at 9:10 AM on September 4, 2007


Screamers was an excellent take on Second Variety but I'm intruiged to know what the comment further up relating to the "wrong question" asked at the end of Total Recall was about. Was he dreaming? Was it all an implant? What's the wrong question, and what was the right answer supposed to be in your opinion.

The Blade Runner argument is one I have almost every year at New Years with my family and friends, this year we'll just be able to pause the discs at the right scenes and point. There may be some vigorous smacking of faces inhto widescreens to get the points across too.

As an aside, my eyes glow red in every picture I've ever seen taken of me.
posted by Molesome at 9:38 AM on September 4, 2007


On the pigeons, they were fighting on the roof of J.F. Sebastian's building, or the building next door, correct? I always assumed the pigeons were more of JF's toys.
posted by Eddie Mars at 9:47 AM on September 4, 2007


Yeah, I'm with the Deckard-as-a-replicant-sucks camp. (A) Because the text really does not support an alternate reading, and (B) because it seems fairly clear that the film was arguing that the replicants were more human than the guy who was hunting them, and this kinda...turns to shit if the guy hunting them is also a replicant. That Ridley Scott endorses the Deckard-as-a-replicant theory is meaningless; obviously, the REAL Ridley Scott was killed and replaced with a hacky double sometime in 1983 (or do you really think the guy who made Alien and Blade Runner is the same person who made Black Rain and GI Jane? I mean, come ON!).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 11:18 AM on September 4, 2007


Kittens, I agree about the decline in Scott's talent. Alien, Bladerunner and to some extent Legend were so different than anything else before them and pretty much everything that he's done since then has been pedestrian entertainment at best.
posted by octothorpe at 1:19 PM on September 4, 2007


The truly awful Hannibal...
posted by Artw at 1:28 PM on September 4, 2007


Justinian: No, Roy Batty doesn't show empathy. You are empathising with him, he isn't feeling anything except the loss of his own existence. (Though Dick did follow this line to its conclusion. His androids are not good at self-preservation because of their lack of empathy. Think about it.)

Sparx: The notions that the test is losing its effectiveness and that replicants can learn empathy might excuse some of this plot confusion in Blade Runner. But I'm not convinced that either concept is present in the movie. (Dick does play with the first idea in the novel but Deckard concludes the test is still working.)

All you howling fan-boys: Humanity derives from empathy. That's the proposition. You can debate it or deny it but it is the premise of both the book and the movie. To have Rachael fall in love with Deckard and the two ride off into the sunset -- that's the fraud I was referring to. I understand the ending will be changed in the new version so maybe... Say! Did you know that, in the book, Rachael throws Deckard's sheep off a roof? Kills it. Because she's just an unfeeling machine.
posted by CCBC at 2:02 PM on September 4, 2007


Ridley Scott has always been a brilliant art director. Blade Runner gave him one of his best chances to indulge in worldbuilding. Many of his other films show the same tendencies -- given a decent budget and an interesting world to create, he creates amazing worlds that feel lived in, realistic, moody, whatever he's trying to achieve.

But he's also really dependent on good scripts. I think he mostly lucked out with Blade Runner, and unfortunately I've come to believe that his opinion about the Deckard-as-replicant question isn't all that important. Unfortunately, because I think Deckard is definitely a replicant* and it doesn't feel right to use Scott's testimony to back that up.

* ROU_Xenophobe hit it right on the head. Clever Mind.
posted by jiawen at 2:18 PM on September 4, 2007


Justinian: No, Roy Batty doesn't show empathy. You are empathising with him, he isn't feeling anything except the loss of his own existence.
Why did he spare Deckard's life?
posted by Flunkie at 4:21 PM on September 4, 2007


CCBC - Ah. Yes, I agree that the Rachael and Deckard riding off into the sunset in the original cut was absurd. That was already changed in the director's cut; I presume the super-duper-director's cut will have the same ending as the plain-old-director's cut.

However, I think Flunkie asks you the key question. It seems to me that, through contemplating his own mortality, Roy Batty has gained empathy for other beings. He saves Deckard's life because he realizes (through his imminent demise) that life, including Deckard's, has value.

As others point out, Batty shows more empathy in that moment that most of the "human" characters have shown throughout the film.
posted by Justinian at 7:50 PM on September 4, 2007


posted by Bryan Behrenshausen In the new version, the origami unicorn has been replaced with two dewbacks.

Naw. In the new version, the origami unicorn is replaced by a tortoise on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, and just as Deckard looks at it and extends his hand towards it, cut to black and run credits.
posted by fandango_matt at 3:57 AM on September 5, 2007


Well, Flunkie, maybe Batty is suffering replicant breakdown. He meant to kill Deckard but his artificial synapses misfired. Why don't you ask about Batty's crying over Pris? That was a really transparent attempt to create sympathy for the replicants. They made these things with tear ducts? As for the notion that Batty "learns" to be human, there is a basic problem here expressed by others in the thread who claim that the movie says experience is the essence of humanity, that memory can make a machine human. But this concept runs into snags right away when you consider implanted memories. Anyway, the point I'm after is that Scott made a very confused movie. Batty learns humanity? I guess this is after he gouges out Tyrell's eyes (with fountains of blood in one cut). And his saving Deckard after doing any number of things to him that might have been fatal is just silly. He learns to love this guy because he's shooting at him? Because it's Harrison Ford and he's so cool? I know that Batty's death scene is a cinematic grail to many folks, but to me it's just crap. "Tears in the rain" is maudlin kitsch and no one but Willie Nelson should be allowed to get away with it.

Justinian: It was my reading of one of the links that the ending has changed again, but I could be wrong.
posted by CCBC at 12:19 PM on September 5, 2007


I'm not getting why you're willing to assume that Justinian's apparent show of empathy actually is empathy, while not willing to assume that Batty's apparent show of empathy actually is empathy.

Again, your reasoning strikes me as blatantly circular:

They are not human, because they have no empathy.

Their shows of empathy are fake, because they have no empathy.

They have no empathy because they are not human.

Quod erat demonstrandum.
posted by Flunkie at 7:46 PM on September 5, 2007


No.
1) "They are not human because they lack empathy" is the premise of the movie.
2) The movie then violates its own premise.
That is my argument. Of course you can rewrite the film after the fact and claim that there is some plot device not mentioned in the script -- like replicants "learning empathy" -- to justify the confusion. But a script that depends on post hoc plot devices is bad writing.
Either way, (3) Blade Runner is a mess. QED.
posted by CCBC at 12:54 PM on September 6, 2007


Of course you can rewrite the film after the fact and claim that there is some plot device not mentioned in the script -- like replicants "learning empathy" -- to justify the confusion.

Or, you could establish through the normal course of events that replicants are developing empathy by (say) showing that it is getting much harder to ID them with the Voigt-Kampff test.

I had always assumed that this was the real threat they posed; and that the other stuff was just pretext.
posted by RavinDave at 5:47 PM on September 6, 2007


posted by chuckdarwin Ridley Scott is presenting Blade Runner: The Final Cut, a re-edited version of the cyber-punk classic, at the 2007 Venice Film Festival.

Early in the 21st Century, THE WARNER BROTHERS CORPORATION advanced Movie evolution into the Final Cut phase — a movie virtually identical to the original — known as a Re-release. The NEXT RELEASE was superior in visual effects and sound, and at least equal in hype, to the marketing executives who created it.

Rereleases were used to squeeze money out of the original fanbase in the exploitation and colonization of the Internet. After a bloody debate about whether the Rerelease was better than the original and whether Deckard was a replicant, Rerelease FPPs were declared illegal on MetaFilter — under penalty of death. Special police squads — CORTEX UNITS — had orders to shoot to kill, upon detection, any FPP'd Rerelease.

This was not called deletion.

It was called Ridley Scott's retirement.
posted by fandango_matt at 8:45 PM on September 6, 2007


Ravindave: ...you could establish through the normal course of events that replicants are developing empathy by (say) showing that it is getting much harder to ID them with the Voigt-Kampff test.
I think the movie did establish that Tyrell was trying to make replicants that could fool the tester into believing they were empathic. Not the same as "developing empathy", though, is it?
But this is getting tiresome. I don't really care if you think this bad movie is one of the best of all time -- that's your problem and you have to live with it. So, I surrender. Yes, I accept that these machines learn empathy and become human or unicorns or whatever you want (or at least I'll keep quiet when I hear you saying so). There. Happy?
posted by CCBC at 1:22 PM on September 7, 2007


You know, you can actually step out of an argument by acknowledging that the disagreement is unresolvable, instead of getting all petulant like that.
posted by cortex at 3:56 PM on September 7, 2007


"Let us agree to disagree, on the grounds that you suck"
posted by Artw at 8:41 PM on September 7, 2007


Yes, I accept that these machines learn empathy and become human or unicorns or whatever you want

The trick is, they aren't machines. they are genetically engineered, biological.

Someone much much earlier in the thread well nailed it - the point is, they actually are people.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:48 AM on September 8, 2007


1)"They are not human because they lack empathy" is the premise of the movie.
2) The movie then violates its own premise.
That's crazy.

You have a conclusion that you want to reach, and you dismiss all contrary evidence (of which there is multiple) based upon that conclusion, and then you claim that, since there is no contrary evidence, you have proven your conclusion.
posted by Flunkie at 6:44 AM on September 8, 2007


I mean, come on, seriously. You're claiming that the point of the movie is "these things are not human"?

You seriously think that a movie was made so that the director could shout his radical "PEOPLE! ROBOTS AREN'T HUMAN!" agenda from the rooftops? Oooooh, what a deep thought for someone to decide that he needs to make a movie about it.

And you furthermore think that that director would load the movie with stuff indicating that it was getting harder and harder to actually say what is meant by "not human"?

Please.

The point of the movie is that we don't actually know whether they actually are self-aware, have souls, or whatever you want to call it, and that we have no way of knowing it, in exactly the same sense that we don't know it and have no way of knowing it about other people.
posted by Flunkie at 6:51 AM on September 8, 2007


I just saw Blade Runner: The Final Cut at the New York Film Festival. It's amazing, especially if you can catch it on a movie screen.
posted by muckster at 8:36 AM on September 23, 2007


Wired: Scott on Blade Runner
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:25 PM on October 1, 2007


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