Dangerous Days

In 1982 when BLADE RUNNER hit the theaters in California, I was struggling midst my short-lived practice marriage, and I needed to be thrust decades into the future, to find a world where despair ruled, where chaos played in the streets, where men played at being gods, creating artificial life–that never the less was life; perhaps soulless, perhaps not. This film knocked me out of my socks. Director Ridley Scott was fresh from amazing us all with his film, ALIEN (1981), and special effects wizard, Douglas Trumball, who was one of my favorite artist-technicians after seeing his work on 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), along with his directorial debut on SILENT RUNNING (1971), was able to create one of the last special effects in the camera epics; before the advent of CGI, before the boundaries of imagination were removed. He still built models, and worked with forced perspectives.

Tagline: A chilling, bold, mesmerizing futuristic detective thriller.

In the Los Angeles of 2019 technology has evolved to include human cloning, androids who were created to serve in the colonies off-Earth; but they had been built with fixed life spans, four years–and some of them become resentful. There were several revolts off-world, and earth created a law that a replicant could not return there without pain of death, or termination, or what they termed “retirement”. Six rogue replicants took over a space freighter and killed everyone on board. The ship was found off shore near LA. Several of these androids tried to break into the headquarters of the Tyrell Corporation, who had created them.

Tyrell: More human than human. That is our motto.

They were the most advanced forms of artificial life; the Nexus 6. Rick Deckard was an ex-cop, ex-blade runner, ex-killer. He tired of the mayhem and quit the department, but they “volunteered” him to return to duty, to run down the dangerous replicants, retire them, and restore order.

Bryant: I need you Decks. This is a bad one, the worst yet. I need the old blade runner. I need your magic.

The film ran 117 minutes and it starred Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos, Brion James, Daryl Hannah, M. Emmett Walsh, William Sanderson, Joe Turkel, and Joanna Cassidy.

Tagline: Man has met his match–now its his problem.

Harrison Ford, fresh from his Hans Solo and Indiana Jones fame, under the tutelage of Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas, was not fully prepared for working with Ridley Scott. The plum part of Rick Deckard did not just fall into his lap. Dustin Hoffman was picked for a time, but was not on board for the concept. Others that were considered for the part included Tommy Lee Jones, Gene Hackman, Sean Connery, Jack Nicholson, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwartzenegger, Al Pacino, Burt Reynolds, William Devane, Raul Julia, Scott Glenn, Frederic Forrest, Robert Duvall, Cliff Gorman, Judd Hirsch, Peter Falk, and Nick Nolte. I think I would have voted for Tommy Lee Jones, followed by Robert Duvall.

Philip K. Dick in 1968, when the notion that his novel might become a motion picture had his own cast in mind–Gregory Peck as Deckard, Grace Slick as Rachael, and Dean Stockwell as Sebastian. In 1969, Martin Scorsese met with Dick to discuss a movie project, but the deal fell through. Other directors approached were Michael Apted, Bruce Beresford, Adrian Lynne, and Robert Mulligan.

Ridley Scott at present is considered the most successful British director working in Hollywood. He has directed 30 films, and produced twice that number. He, and his brother Tony Scott, produce the excellent television series, THE GOOD WIFE. He, and his director brother, Tony, many years ago bought and still own Shepperton Studios in England. Ridley had a background in making commercials, and was expert at art design. He is trademarked for his stunning tableau visuals. Many of his opening shots, his set-ups could be plucked and put into frames as works of art. He personally sketches most of his storyboards, working left-handed and with great artistic style. He was very influenced by the French artist, Moebius, and the graphic magazine, HEAVY METAL.

Ridley Scott: Hollywood is an industry, not an art form–a case where we find commerce overpowering art.

His first feature film was THE DUELLISTS (1977), and others I have enjoyed include ALIEN (1981), BLACK RAIN (1989), THELMA AND LOUISE (1991), 1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE (1992), GLADIATOR (2000), BLACKHAWK DOWN (2001), and KINGDOM OF HEAVEN (2005). His new favorite leading actor seems to be Russell Crowe, who has finished five films with him; A GOOD YEAR (2006), AMERICAN GANGSTER (2007), BODY OF LIES (2008), and ROBIN HOOD (2010).

Roger Ebert wrote, “The movie creates a vision of futuristic Los Angeles which is as memorable as Fritz Lang’s METROPOLIS–unimaginable sky scrapers towering over streets clotted with humanity.”

Harrison Ford and Ridley Scott had a falling out after BLADE RUNNER. Scott felt that he could trust his casting, that Ford was perfect for the part, so he concentrated on his own “vision” and did not spend any time giving Ford feedback or direction. Harry Ford would prepare each night, and show up ready to work, and Scott would not pay any attention to him. Some directors will not babysit those actors they feel are well cast. As an actor, I remember being frustrated by getting no notes from directors when all those around me received reams of them; even so a director who mistreats their actors, one of the Hitchcock or Fritz Lang school, is showing their flawed genius. Ford remained unhappy about this experience for many years. In retrospect now, Ford was quoted as saying, “Fuck it. It was just a movie.”

The first scene they shot was the scene in Deckard’s apartment, when Rachael visited him for the first time. It was obvious that Sean Young was inexperienced and lacked much confidence. Sensing this, Scott did “direct” her. This irritated Harrison Ford even more. Ironically, this weariness, edginess, and surly anger all worked well for him playing Deckard; a role that is still regarded as one of his best, he gave a “method performance” that he had not been trained for.

Deckard: They don’t advertise for killers in the newspaper. That was my profession. Ex-cop, ex-blade runner, ex-killer.

When Scott had finished the film, the producers felt it was too hard to follow, so they quickly added a narration by Deckard, which Harrison Ford was forced to record, and a Hollywood happy ending, where Deckard and Rachael are shown escaping to the north in a spinner; using out takes from THE SHINING (1980).

The art design for Deckard’s apartment was based on the interior of Frank Lloyd Wright’s house in LA; cave-like and yet very futuristic. Harrison Ford has a good sense of humor which served him well. During the love scene in the apartment, Scott wanted it to have more heat. The out takes included Deckard pulling her skirt up, and her baring her breasts. Without warning when he pushed her against the wall, this shocked and angered Sean Young, and she broke down and began to weep. Ford stepped out of the shot and mooned his co-star, which dissipated the tension, and the scene was put back on track.

Sean Young had to fight for her part too. At one point Deborah Harry had been chosen for the part. BLADE RUNNER was only Young’s third film. She went on to appear in DUNE (1984), the film Ridley Scott was going to direct before he returned to the production fold to do BR. Young still works a lot, having been in 83 films at this point, and has been a cast member on THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS since 2010.

On a sad note, one of the things most criticized about this film was the lack of chemistry between the principals. Young, inexperienced, frightened, was directed to be neutral, more “android” for Rachael. The lackluster love scene on the one hand excellently portrayed the undiscovered passions of sex with a replicant, but getting physical with an android perhaps not programmed for pleasure proved to be cold and detached. Rachael seemed to be more victim than siren, almost battered and raped; not the stuff of empathetic love.

Ridley Scott borrowed the “shiny eyes” effects directly from Fritz Lang. Scott during the inception process has envisioned Deckard wearing a big wide-brimmed hat, but after he saw the costume for Indiana Jones he dropped the hat for the character. Scott wanted an opening scene at a lonely cabin out in the wasteland. A farmer enters and begins stirring a pot of soup. Deckard appears out of the shadows and shoots him without a word. Then he pulls back the lower lip and copies down the android serial number.

The “city streets” sets on the back lot of Warner Brothers were used for much of the film, but even with lots of futuristic glitz built on them, in the daylight they looked pretty ‘cheesy’, so Scott decided to set up a grueling schedule of night shooting, like 33 days of it, and he made up acid rain to be used constantly, and pumped in smoke to further camouflage the setting. The ever present soot and smoke took its toll on the exhausted crew who had to wear masks while working, and each morning emerged soot-smeared and haggard, like firefighters. If CGI had been available they would have been able to extend the tops of the set pieces during daylight, like Scott did more successfully while shooting GLADIATOR (2000). There were two other sets built in LA, one at Union Station for the police station. The offices were left to be used for real after the shoot.

The other was the often used Bradbury Building, which was occupied. So that was another reason to have to shoot at night. The grime and garbage for the sets was done with cork and styrofoam, and had to be cleaned up each morning before the tenants arrived. At the studio set, Scott had set up large speakers on the roof tops and he piped in the pre-done Vangelis musical score to enrich-en the atmosphere for the scenes.

The film score was done by Evangelos Odysseus Papathancassiou, better known simply as Vangelis. The music worked well for BLADE RUNNER, giving us some synthetic vibes, harkening back to TWILIGHT ZONE, and the electronic music in scores of 1950’s science fiction films. His electronic scores were very popular in the 80’s, and for a time seemed to be the score of the movie future, but computerized music was more fad than golden, and I am thankful that real orchestras are back in celluloid vogue. He also scored his most famous piece in CHARIOTS OF FIRE (1981), THE BOUNTY (1984), and Oliver Stone’s ALEXANDER (2004).

The film was based on the Philip K. Dick novel DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP (1968). In his book World War Terminus has concluded, and most people own an “andie” as domestic helper in the home. The word “replicant” was created for the film. Most animals were extinct or endangered, and to own an animal was a status symbol. When Deckard’s real sheep died, he bought a synthetic one. The novel represented one day in Deckard’s life. Blade runners did use the Voight-Kampff machine as an empathy test. Androids trying to pass as human usually did not respond “humanly” to questions posed them.

J.R. Isadore could not leave earth due to his low IQ. He worked at an android animal repair shop. Pris moved into the apartment, and he strikes up a relationship with her. She was a twin to Rachael. After Deckard killed the rogue Pris, finding it difficult since she looked exactly like Rachael whom he was having a sexual relationship with, Isadore had a break down.

Philip K. Dick only saw the first 20 minutes of finished film for BLADE RUNNER before he died March 2, 1982. The Tacoma Film Club screened the film in March 2011.

Dick said, “It was my own interior world. They caught it perfectly.”

Three sequel novels to BLADE RUNNER were written by Dick’s friend, K.W. Jeter.

BLADE RUNNER 2: The Edge of Human (1991)

BLADE RUNNER 3: Replicant Night (1996)

BLADE RUNNER 4: Eye and Talon (2001)

James Berardinelli of REEL VIEWS wrote: BLADE RUNNER is a rare science fiction movie so full of material that pages can be written about it without scratching the surface. A review like this can provide little more than an overview.

The screenplay was written by Hampton Fancher, and his elegant script was the very heart of the original concept adopted, then adapted by Ridley Scott. Fancher has been an actor in films, appearing in 47 movies since 1958. He has written five movie scripts, including THE MIGHTY QUINN (1982). He was one of the producers on BR, and he fought Scott tooth and nail on every change. So much so that David Webb Peoples was brought in to doctor the script more in line with Scott’s views. Peoples has written 12 film scripts including LADYHAWKE (1985), LEVIATHAN (1989), UNFORGIVEN (1992), HERO (1992), and TWELVE MONKEYS (1995).

Peter Hartlaub of the SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE wrote: “Blade Runner–The Final Cut (2007)” is the first version of the movie that truly seems like a finished product. The film is a few minutes longer, yet seems leaner, with a tighter narrative that is now worthy of the outstanding art direction and cinematography. This definitive print should be the last little push that BLADE RUNNER needs to complete it 25-year journey from box office failure to cult favorite to full-blown classic.

The excellent cinematography was done by veteran Jorden Cronenweth, who became wheelchair-bound with Parkinson’s during the shoot. He died young at 61. He lensed 31 films during his career, including ZANDY’S BRIDE (1974), ALTERED STATES (1981), CUTTER’S WAY (1981), and GARDENS OF STONE (1987). Ridley Scott was used to being the director of photography, like Stanley Kubrick liked to do, and it was difficult for him to talk about a shot, and not line it up himself. About mid-shoot his crew held a mock rebellion, not getting along with him, and they had a T-shirt war; which defused the situation.

Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty, warrior leader of the replicant rogue group, nearly stole the film with his dynamic portrayal. He had already been in 27 films, mostly in Europe, movies like SOLDIER OF ORANGE (1977), SPETTERS (1980), and NIGHTHAWKS (1981). Always a busy actor, presently he has been in 132 films. But playing Roy Batty helped establish a career for him in American films. He did most of his own stunts, and is credited for making up the last line in his farewell speech, “tears in the rain”, and in the original script there were several more lines of poetic prose he just dropped. It was his idea to use the white dove too. Ironically as he “dies” and lets go of the bird, its feathers were too wet so it could not fly; it would just hop down and scamper about on foot. The shot of the bird flying was a poor match, with an unfamiliar building and a blue sky to lift up into. This was an important symbol for the flight of his replicant soul. This dynamic portrayal was a star-turn for Hauer, creating an almost invincible warrior who still wept as his friends were killed, truly loved Pris, and decided to spare Deckard’s life.

Tyrell: Roy, would you like to be upgraded?

Batty: I had in mind something more radical.

Tyrell: What…what seems to be the problem?

Batty: Death.

Tyrell: Death; uh, well, that’s a little out of my jurisdiction.

Batty: I want more life, fucker/father!

Tyrell: You were made as good as we could make you.

Batty: But not to last.

Tyrell: The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long–and you have burned so very, very brightly. Roy, look at you, you’re the Prodigal Son. You are quite a prize.

Batty: I’ve done questionable things.

Tyrell: Also extraordinary things; revel in your time.

Batty: Nothing the God of biomechanics wouldn’t let you into heaven for.

Daryl Hannah as Pris brought loveliness and a hard edge to her role; although I never did warm up to the fright wig she chose. She had only done three earlier films before BLADE RUNNER. She appeared in SPLASH in 1984, and that’s when her career took off. She had been a gymnast in school, and this helped her get this role. But early on in the scene where she mock flees from Sebastian in front of the Bradbury, she tripped and put her arm through a glass window on his vehicle, and it was not sugar glass. The wound required several stitches, and she chipped her elbow in several places, making it difficult to do the back flip for later scenes. The great fight scene with Deckard proved very difficult for her. They brought in a stunt woman who wore herself out trying to perfect the three flips and landing on Fords shoulders. She became too exhausted to perform the gig, so they brought in a short stunt man to do the actual combat, and wall slams, and death throes. Also, the karate kick to Deckard when he discovered her had to be done by a stunt man as well.

William Sanderson, a versatile and excellent character actor gave his R.F. Sebastian all the pathos and humanity it needed, for both the role and the film. He brings a uniqueness to the lens, like Steve Buscema does; there is no one like him. His Sebastian, elevated from the retarded character Dick wrote, to genetics engineer who plays chess with the head of Tyrell corporation, was able to provide us with the vulnerability and comic moments the film needed to maintain balance. His Sebastian was one of the only “likable” characters in the piece, in the midst of a very dark futuristic noir tale, his touch of both levity and bathos was necessary and welcome whereas the non-relenting malevolence of the rest of the cast and the world itself gave us much less to empathize with. Sanderson brought heart to the story. He had done 16 films when he appeared in BLADE RUNNER, movies like ONION FIELD (1979), DEATH HUNT (1981), and RAGGEDY MAN (1981). Fortunate and talented enough to sustain a long career, he has presently done 114 films.

Joanna Cassidy was already a veteran actress when she came to BLADE RUNNER in 1982. Her Zhora had the sexiness and edginess required for us to believe she was part of a kick assassin squad. She had appeared in 34 films prior to her work in BR, movies like a bit part in BULLITT (1968), THE OUTFIT (1973), THE LAUGHING POLICEMAN (1973), STAY HUNGRY (1976), THE LATE SHOW (1977), and NIGHT GAMES (1980).

She used her own pet boa constrictor, Darling, in the film. They had planned, and partially shot a very sexy dance scene with her and the snake in the night club as Deckard watched. It became too involved, so Ridley Scott dropped it, choosing to just shoot Ford’s face in reaction to the dance. Her death scene, crashing through all those plate glass windows was done hurriedly by a famous stunt woman, but the cheesy wig they provided her nearly ruined the shots. Her scene in the dressing room provided the only nudity the film contained, and one had to look quickly to see breasts. Sean Young’s love scenes were edited so tightly that her nudity became lost on the editing machine, which in my opinion lessened the effectiveness of the Deckard/Rachael on screen romance.

Edward James Olmos has always been one of my favorite actors. I saw him do ZOOT SUIT on stage in Los Angeles, and his physical presence was astonishing. He had done dozens of television roles, and just completed WOLFEN (1981), and ZOOT SUIT (1981) when he worked in BLADE RUNNER. His role in MIAMI VICE, the series, happened in 1984-1990. He brought to his role of Gaff in BR a warriors weariness and battle scars, and a policeman’s detective skills that circumnavigated the oddness and dangers of the last world. He created his own costume, flashy and street smart, part Mack and part enforcer, and he completely created the city speak he used in the opening scene with Deckard; which turned out equal parts Japanese and Hungarian.  The blue contacts and the limp were essential parts of a very strong presence. He does not appear in a lot of scenes, but one watches him carefully when he does appear. Gaff was the cop sent to do all the dirty jobs, and one got the feeling that he and Bryant knew much more about the status of people and things than they let on. I think his small part contributed significantly to the shape of the film, and perhaps it contained a key to a puzzle or two concerning Deckard and Rachel.

Two big relevant motifs for BLADE RUNNER were ecology and morality. We were able to witness a world where the World War Terminus and industrialization had left man shambling in days of solid acid rain, in squalor, where those who could afford it migrated to the off-world colonies. The world of this film was fully realized, and back in 1982 it seemed even more striking to us. Ironically, sitting here in 2011, the date assigned to the story, 2019, is just over the horizon, and somehow we still are consuming raw materials and fossil fuels like there was no tomorrow, still bending over for the politicos and oil barons–fighting their wars, paying their greedy tariffs. But it is like George Orwell’s 1984, that came and went without the actual emergence of Big Brother; even though we have given up privacy willingly in order to worship and play with modern technology. Black Ops still exist, perhaps more insidiously than ever, but it hides from us, stays out of sight, and just monitors all of us meticulously; and their cleverness is mantled from most with the glitziness of the new toys we are provided with. Someone, something is keeping track of every citizen; even criminals know too much about each of us. Soon we will exist naked of all our secrets as we parade in front of security machines and purchase our dreams on the internet. If you doubt for a second that this is not true, spend some time on Facebook, or Google yourself or a friend, and simply marvel at the “sensitive data” that is available to anyone who seeks it.

The other motif has to do with the practical and moral issues of cloning, or creating artificial life in a world where loneliness and alienation reign as the populous survives in an emotional vacuum.

Batty: We are not computers, Sebastian. We are physical.

When man finally makes the technological leap, which inevitably lurks in our future, and clones human beings–perhaps at first, as Dick suggested, to simply serve as companions and domestics, manual laborers, then soldiers, sports figures, romantic options, maybe even politicians and compliant spouses–perhaps we will finally begin to have more understanding of our own divine spark, our soul. Some believe that during the life between lives, in Bardo beyond the veil, we chose our parents, our karma groups, our lifestyle, race, ethnic group, the locale and circumstances of our next incarnation, and that we enter the fetus a few days prior to birth. So why could not the androids, robots, replicants also be recipients of a soul? Or will the android population, created to be “more human than human” be left as soulless automatons? Philip K. Dick and the premise of BLADE RUNNER offers us a world where man has moved from spiritual co-creater of this plane of existence to accepting the status of demi-gods, creating the artificial genetics, weaving a helix of DNA out of chemistry and physics, creating hands-on a new race of replicants, born fully grown but immature, recipients of fake programed memories–and further inevitably after sentiency is bestowed our android prodigy will develop real emotions and empathy, will rejoice in life and cling to it seeking both liberty and survival. The fictional solution was to program a fail-safe termination date within all artificial life; but there were some exceptions.

Loneliness loomed large on the canvas of BLADE RUNNER, raw aching loneliness, and  often the result that humans seek connection and companionship, almost as if we were programmed to do so, that one is truly the loneliest number. This film continued in the philosophical tradition of METROPOLIS (1927), SILENT RUNNING (1971), later another Philip K. Dick story in MINORITY REPORT (2002)–illustrating more pieces and portions of the futurist’s nightmare.

Robert Blake in ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE (1973), “Loneliness can kill you every bit as effectively as a .44 Magnum.”

There were several times in BLADE RUNNER that characters, especially the replicants seemed to behave irrationally, illogically.

Why did the more advanced Nexus 6 replicants begin to revolt, what were they seeking?

Why would Sebastian ask Pris to come up to his apartment?

Why would Sebastian agree to help Batty and Pris to get to Tyrell?

Why would Tyrell even consider, in the middle of the night, to allow Sebastion to come up to his private secluded secure apartment?

Why did Rachael seek out Deckard for help? She knew what he was, a replicant killer.

Why did Batty choose to save Deckard when he could have killed him easily?

Why did Rachel stay in Deckard’s apartment and not make a solo run for it?

Why did Gaff choose to allow Deckard to escape?

Perhaps due to the torrential intensity of emotion, overriding the intellect, a birth right for those who live and die on this world, the significance of loneliness and alienation usurped logic, leading them and us to accept then experience a scenario our common sense screams we should avoid.

Deckard: (narration) I don’t know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life–anybody’s life. All he wanted were the same answers the rest of us want. Where do I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got? All I could do was sit there and watch him die.

One interesting sidebar of trivia was that in the original film script competed by David Webb Peoples, Tyrell himself turned out to be a replicant. This was revealed to Batty as terminated his master. Batty goes higher in the building and finds the real Tyrell dead in an elaborate form of cryo-stases in a sarcophagus. The “Father” had been dead, ironically, for four years. This turn of events certainly would have colored our responses to the aspects of plot.

For me the most significant mystery, the most profound conundrum concerned Rick Deckard–very pointedly was he a replicant too, one without a DNA fused termination date, like Rachael. Ridley Scott stated that this was his intent. The theorists caught in the film two major clues. When Deckard slumbered at his piano, and had his dream of the unicorn, after he awakened he told no one of this. Yet at the end of the film, after watching Batty die, after being spared by a replicant, when he rushed home to his apartment, with the final speech of Gaff’s echoing in his ears, “It is a shame that she won’t live…but then who does?” he discovered Rachael with a blanket over her head, appearing lifeless in his bed. We feared the worst while watching, but as he lifted the blanket, we saw that Miss Rachael was alive. As they fled, she stepped on one of Gaff’s origami foil figures. Deckard picks it up and sees that it is a unicorn–telling him that Gaff had been there, had decided to spare Rachael, and importantly “knew” about his dream.

But the kicker and clincher for me was a line cut from the film, included in the bonus disc for the Final Cut. As Gaff said, “You have done a man’s job, sir.” after a pause, Gaff said, “But are you sure you are a man?”

Harrison Ford, who had railed against the last minute narration added to the film, did not  want Deckard to be shown to be a replicant. His love affair as a human with replicant Rachael seemed more significant to him. And the pivotal scene with Batty, where a replicant spared, saved a human, would have significantly less pathos. Rutger Hauer agreed with Ford. Perhaps that’s why Ridley Scott cut Gaff’s line, leaving the situation more enigmatic. Some felt that Deckard could not be a replicant because he did not possess their super-human strength and agility, that all four of the skin-jobs he retired knocked him around like a rag doll. I would submit that Deckard was not a newer model Nexus 6, that he could have been created to “pass as human completely”, complete with the foibles and weaknesses of humankind.

Deckard: (narration) Gaff had been there and he let her live. Four years he figured. He was wrong. Tyrell told me that Rachael was special. No termination date. I don’t know how long we had together….who does?

I seem to be in the minority, part of a small cluster of folks who actually enjoyed the two aspects of the film Scott snipped out for his director’s cut, and final cut–the narration by Deckard, and the Hollywood happy ending. I agreed with Harry Ford that some of the narration could have been trimmed, allowing the audience to discover certain facts, but still, for me, a detective’s sonorous voice over narration is traditional, even essential for all classic film noir; conjuring up the wonderful narrations done by Humphrey Bogart, Robert Montgomery, Dick Powell, George Sanders, Lloyd Nolan, Van Heflin, Laurence Tierney, Stacy Keach, and Powers Boothe. Writer Hampton Fancher admitted he wrote Deckard with Robert Mitchum in mind.

That snipped final scene where we see Deckard and Rachael in a spinner escaping north, and the narration let us understand that even though Deckard did not know who would follow them, if someone did, he didn’t care; they had to go for it. I felt that this was a singular upbeat moment in an otherwise dark nihilistic tale of a world gone mad–and if in fact, if they were both replicants, they shared a non-termination artificial DNA, and their new life together could have represented the first step for man and demi-man to share in free will, and basic “human rights.” This supposedly is what distinguishes us from the beasts. This also could construct a stronger celluloid bridge to the new Philip K. Dick inspired film, THE ADJUSTMENT BUREAU (2010), where the crux of the tale centered on man’s free will.

Glenn Buttkus


3 thoughts on “Blade Runner: Dangerous Days

  1. your comment contained interesting detailed information. it included insights into the actors, director, etc. your acting experience shows insight into the director/actor interface which otherwise the viewer might not think of. it was semi-humorous to hear about ford mooning his co-star; and informative to find out about planned scenes not included, as well as how they got the sets to work. learning this enriches the experience of watching movies. your comment, “Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty, warrior leader of the replicant rogue group, nearly stole the film with his dynamic portrayal” is a comment i agree with. it was interesting to find out about hauer’s stunting, ad-libbing, and the dove. your description of hauer’s character: “This dynamic portrayal was a star-turn for Hauer, creating an almost invincible warrior who still wept as his friends were killed, truly loved Pris, and decided to spare Deckard’s life,” i find well-stated.
    in regard to the wig worn by pris, which you mention–i watched blade runner twice, about 17 years apart. the first time the replicants were, for me, mainly terrifying. the second time they were terrifying, but also objects of compassion, and admiration. this combination enriched their impact and increased the tension. pris’s appearance had its scary element. i don’t have any trouble with it. (this may have been what you were referring to.) (if there was a replicant i didn’t find as fully realized, it was zhora–she didn’t come across to me as particularly menacingly weird, like i thought the others did. i think that’s probably as it should be, though, so the scene in which deckard hunts her down and “retires” her avoids becoming emotionally muddled–its impact is immediate.) the detail about sugar glass, and daryl hannah, was new material to me: i confess, this is the first time i’ve heard the term.
    your comments about sebastian i found insightful–but aren’t they best realized if deckard is human when we compare and contrast the two characters sebastian and deckard?–(referring to whether or not deckard is a replicant, as i did in my comment on the website last week). you mention about sean young’s love scenes being edited and this lessening the effectiveness of the on screen romance”–i didn’t know that. you raise an interesting point. again, all of this creates a whole new world for the less-experienced viewer.
    i find your comment on the presence of loneliness on the canvas of blade runner strongly stated. i love the questions you raise regarding the characters’ irrational actions. i think your explanation hits the nail on the head. the questions and your following paragraph on the possible motivations are well-phrased.
    i liked the original cut, too, for reasons just as you stated so well. i liked the final cut at least as well, except for the unicorn riddle. not to denigrate the final cut, at all; but, to me, there is no single, ultimately resolved and satisfying cut of blade runner.
    thank you for your knowledgeable, informative, and interesting comment.

  2. Glenn,
    I really enjoyed your post! You haven’t been doing your comprehensive reviews recently like you used to do and I have missed them. This one reminds me the epic review you did a while back for A Scanner Darkly (, another PK Dick based film.

    As an interesting aside, current technology for building robots is very much concerned with issues of empathy. Not just in terms of building a robot that can express empathy, but also in terms of building a robot that has features that enable it to elicit empathy from humans. Just had the students in my Neuroscience Seminar read a paper on this topic:

    L. Oberman. EEG evidence for mirror neuron activity during the observation of human and robot actions: Toward an analysis of the human qualities of interactive robots. Neurocomputing, volume 70, pp. 2194–2203, 2007.

  3. Jim: What an incredible response to my review. Thank-you for reading it so carefully. Someone like you, who sees film as more than entertainment, is who I wrote the piece for. BR comes close, in its present cult status, to becoming a great film; one that we could discuss in depth and at length for a long time.

    Ron: I think I wrote over 50 film reviews 2005-2007, and A SCANNER DARKLY was well received. Glad you dug this one too.

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