I watched Blade Runner last night. It was the “Final Cut” version, released in 2007. Such a great movie. Blade Runner was originally released in 1982. Like a lot of great films from decades ago, it did not predict the ubiquity of wireless communications (Deckard has to use a futuristic phone booth), but otherwise it holds up really well. Visually it’s as stunning as ever, and it’s great to be able to stream it in HD to a fairly large screen in your own home.
The look and feel of Blade Runner is often cited as being the quintessential atmosphere of cyberpunk. I don’t really know about that. For one thing, the film has nothing to do with computer networks — there is no cyberspace. And while portions of Los Angeles look crowded, the streets often look deserted, presumably due to migration of people to the Offworld Colonies. I usually think of cyberpunk as being crowded everywhere. Still, I guess the noir feeling the movies carries off so well is somewhat compatible with William Gibson‘s Sprawl Trilogy.
I’ve never read the Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the story by Philip K. Dick, upon which this film is based. I should add it to my reading list.
Whenever I watch Blade Runner, I find myself wanting to know more about the world and its characters. There has been some additional fiction written about the setting, but that all just seems kind of ridiculous. Fan Fiction at best? Other than seeing Blade Runner 2049 when it comes out, perhaps it’s best to just let the film stand on its own.
I always thought of Blade Runner as the ultimate existential question of what it means to be “human”. Who is a human, what does it really mean to be human, and who gets to decide? Plus, sometimes it seems society wants to train people to be more robotic (it is an axiom of business that if you end up hurting somebody it is “just business”) at the same time there is a push to use AI to make robots more human. It’s a wacky world.
And will the human questioning of the movie, should that even matter when it comes to moral judgements?