- David Mitchell
I love Madonna. I hate Cher. I love Nine Inch Nails. I hate Slipknot. I love Orchids. I hate flowers. I am a hipster. I am a queen. I am a goth. I am a punk. I am a jock. I am insane. I am human. I am fun. I am boring.
I am not the stereotypical gay, that is STILL being portrayed in almost every TV series I see. I am not in a dark room. I am not shirtless. I am not your BFF and I am not your fucking toy.
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I woke quite early with the midnight sun. Another near sleepless night on the verge of insanity in this excuse for a habitat. My feet were itchy and my heart was warm, unlike the rest of my body. This is the arctic, and there is no mercy. And yet, I always find myself intrigued by the daily tasks I bring onto myself. One must work in order to feel alive. This exceptionally sunny morning, I am off on the bear trail to look for yet another missing siberian husky.
My journey is long and weary. As I walk up the stoney forest passages, I am bathed by intense sunlight. Only in this place does the sun burn so bright for all the night. I reach the top of the hill, serenading the trees with my usual tune to worn off any menacing species. After an hour of searching every corner of the forest, I found not only the husky, but also a lone wolf. They were singing in the silhouette of the midnight sun, when suddenly the husky ran towards me with its deep blue eyes piercing the trees and pollen filled air, straight into my own. The wolf looked towards me, but retreated down the opposite slope.
It was then, that I noticed that even the beasts of the arctic can feel lonesome.
By Ryan Keating.
Science Fiction or “sci-fi” is a genre that has been reinvented greatly over the years. Before Blade Runner was made in 1982 by Ridley Scott (IMDB n.d.), a lot of science fiction themes included space travel and extraterrestrials. Blade Runner became a sci-fi classic because it introduced the genre to the sub-genres of film noir and cyberpunk. Film noir usually gives us a futuristic mystery involving a detective, in this case, Deckard (Harrison Ford), in a dystopian city, Los Angeles. Cyberpunk films generally include a dark future and a damaged earth; in Blade Runner, the earth appears to be dark and heavily polluted; there are only people and artificial animals left. Blade Runner, did not initially meet success with the critics and public. One of the most famous American critics, Roger Ebert, said “Blade Runner is a stunningly interesting visual achievement, but a failure as a story.” (1992). Perhaps, this was due to it’s confusing plot; Deckard is a blade runner whose job it is to kill replicants, which are artificial humans. But, sometimes, we don’t know who is human and who is not. Even the director Ridley Scott had difficulty understanding the film when he saw the first rough cut by editor Terry Rawlings, “God, it’s marvellous. What the fuck does it all mean?” (Howell 2012, p.6). Although the plot was interesting, it was expressed in a complicated way. There were many questions that remained unanswered; it wasn’t until the release of the director’s and final cuts that the public began to see the intriguing side of such an ambiguous story. Even Ebert changed his opinion after viewing the final cut, which was released in 2007, 25 years after the theatrical release. “In an earlier review of Blade Runner, I wrote; “It looks fabulous, it uses special effects to create a new world of its own, but it is thin in its human story.” This seems a strange complaint, given that so much of the movie concerns who is, and is not, human, and what it means to be human anyway” (2007). It was this idea of human identity, along with the stunning visual effects by Douglas Trumball, that, eventually, made Blade Runner a science fiction classic, setting it apart from the rest and paving the way for future film noir and cyberpunk films. Blade Runner is also now considered to be an official landmark film by the American Film Registry (Eagen 2010, p.775).
As mentioned earlier, one of the weaknesses of Blade Runner at the time of release, was the complicated plot. It wasn’t until the director’s and final cuts were released that people began to unravel the many questions and ideas in the film. For example, the character, Dr Tyrell, is a giver of life, a god-like figure; he could be compared to an Egyptian god, high above the city in a golden pyramid like stucture. Tyrell designs replicants and animals and attempts to make them as real as possible. His slogan being, “more human than human” (Scott in Doll & Faller 1986, p.91). Tyrell also gives the replicants a limited life expectancy, to insure that no model develops too many real human emotions. The highly sophisticated replicant, Rachel, is often referred to as “it” by Deckard, until she saves his life. As the romance begins, Deckard questions the authenticity of Rachel’s emotions, and we begin to pose the ultimate question: what is it to be human? (Knight & McKnight 2009, p.21-37). If humans and replicants can be indistinguishable, then perhaps, Deckard himself, is a replicant. The ambiguity of the film certainly confused audiences and critics alike, but after multiple cuts and releases, we were probed with questions of identity and even memory. Tyrell implanted memories into Rachel, therefore making her more human and also making her unaware of what she really is. If a machine can remember and think, can they dream? Can they love?
A lot of films throughout history have immortal dialogue that generations will remember, but, a few also take credit for having especially cheesy dialogue. For example, in the original theatrical cut of Blade Runner, Rachel and Deckard are seen driving together in the countryside; escaping their doomed future in Los Angeles (This footage was actually taken from unused material in Kubrick’s The Shining). Deckard delivers the final line of the film: “Gaff had been there, and let her live. He figured he was wrong. Tyrell told me Rachel was special, no termination date. I didn’t know how long we’d have together… who does?” (Scott 1982). People were disappointed with the lack of mystery in the ending, and thought it was too cheerful. Many thought the line was also insincere and cheesy. Some speculated that even Harrison Ford didn’t like the line, who later commented on it in Playboy Magazine: “It was simply bad narration” (Howell 2012). Another interesting line is, the noteworthy “tears in rain” line by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). The whole thing was actually entirely improvised, and probably still one of the most well known and beautiful lines in the film. But, in my opinion, the most beautiful element is probably the soundtrack.
For those who enjoy film soundtracks as much as I do, the Blade Runner soundtrack, like the film, was surrounded by mystery. It was released 12 years later due to legal reasons. The music was made by popular Greek composer Vangelis, who also composed the music for the hit film, Chariots of Fire (1981). It appears Vangelis drew inspiration from Middle-Eastern music and the neo-classical genre, but kept the overall sound primarily electronic and dark like the film (Johnson n.d.). The soundtrack is also intertwined with classic dialogue from the film. A 25th anniversary edition of the soundtrack was also released in 2007. This version, included three discs with even more original music from Vangelis, and also remastered tracks from the original soundtrack. Like the film itself, the entire work is yet to be released in full. Perhaps, in the future we can expect a final version of the soundtrack, like the final cut of the film? (Jurek n.d.)
Other interesting facts:
- It was based on a novel by Philip K. Dick entitled, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”.
- The eye Chinese eye dealer apparently didn’t like Americans. The graffiti on the entrance says “Chinese Good, Americans Bad.”
- The Oscar-winning sets were so detailed, that even the parking meters had predicted rates for the year 2019, 1 minute for $3.
- The Cityspeak language of L.A. spoken by Gaff in the film was the idea from actor Edward James Olmos.
- In 2006, Scott confirmed that Deckard was in fact the next generation of replicant, Nexus 7 and had no termination date.
- Scott told the Guardian newspaper recently that he wants to make a sequel, with Harrison Ford. (Howell 2012)
So, I hope that some of you die hard fans discovered some new stuff here… This is a modified extract from an essay I wrote for school recently. Let me know what you think about Scott doing a sequel.
After I Prometheus, I have little hope in a decent Blade Runner sequel. Some are saying that Prometheus had a similar response from critics as Blade Runner. Maybe we can expect Prometheus to become a classic in the future? I really don’t think so… It was TERRIBLE.
Thanks for reading,
I know I promised some of you that I was going to post some interesting philosophy behind Blade Runner, but it still isn’t ready. I’m finishing up my essay for school this weekend.
I promise I will post some stuff ASAP. You are going to LOVE it.
I just realised that a lot of my favourite words in English are in some way or form, connected with connection…
Intrinsic, involved, intertwined. What beautiful words. I need to make sense of this in my life. My obsession to connect everyone and everything has really been coming to the surface lately.