The Blade Runner Experience

The Blade Runner Experience: The Legacy of a Science Fiction Classic

edited by WILL BROOKER
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/broo476431
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  • Book Info
    The Blade Runner Experience
    Book Description:

    Since its release in 1982, Ridley Scott'sBlade Runner, based on Philip K. Dick's novelDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, has remained a cult classic through its depiction of a futuristic Los Angeles; its complex, enigmatic plot; and its underlying questions about the nature of human identity.The Blade Runner Experience: The Legacy of a Science Fiction Classicexamines the film in a broad context, examining its relationship to the original novel, the PC game, the series of sequels, and the many films influenced by its style and themes. It investigatesBlade Runneronline fandom and asks how the film's future city compares to the present-day Los Angeles, and it revisits the film to pose surprising new questions about its characters and their world.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-50179-8
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. EDITOR’S NOTE
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. viii-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION: 2019 VISION
    (pp. 1-10)
    WILL BROOKER

    In 2003Blade Runnerbecame a verb. Twenty years after the film’s release, William Gibson had no need to italicise the title, or note the director’s name as he did withSolaris; every reader would know what he meant and call to mind the right image. ‘Blade Runner’, in this context, refers not so much to a film as to an aesthetic, a styling,a look.

    But as Barry Atkins points out in this volume,‘Blade Runner’has been an umbrella term for decades:

    It has been some time since it was possible to discussBlade Runneras if it...

  6. THE BLADE RUNNER EXPERIENCE: PILGRIMAGE AND LIMINAL SPACE
    (pp. 11-30)
    WILL BROOKER

    Brian Webb, writing in theLA Alternative Pressduring late July 2004, shows the grip that Ridley Scott’s future metropolis still holds on the popular imagination, even among hip young Los Angelenos who might be expected to regard the movie sceptically if they remembered it at all. As noted in the Introduction, theBlade Runnercity shifted from coast to coast throughout the film’s development; built around Manhattan skyscrapers, showered with Eastern climate, shot primarily on the Warner Bros. ‘Old New York Street’, and only nominally set in California for pragmatic reasons of location permissions.Blade Runneris not a...

  7. POST-MILLENNIUM BLADE RUNNER
    (pp. 31-40)
    JUDITH B. KERMAN

    WhenBlade Runnerpremiered in 1982, the year 2000 seemed a long way off. In 1991 a book of essays which I edited about the film and its source materials,Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, was published by Popular Press Sheep? at Bowling Green State University (second edition, 1997). None of the essays in that first anthology explicitly considered millennial or apocalyptic issues – neither word appears in the book’s index, although several authors wrote about Biblical themes in the film. Certainly, the date shown as contemporaneous...

  8. SECTION 1: THE CINEMA OF PHILIP K. DICK

    • REEL TOADS AND IMAGINARY CITIES: PHILIP K. DICK, BLADE RUNNER AND THE CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE FICTION MOVIE
      (pp. 43-58)
      AARON BARLOW

      Two intertwined strands of science fiction cinema, one focused on ‘the spectacle of production technology’ and the other on ‘the impact of technology’ (see Landon 1992), are represented inBlade Runnerby director Ridley Scott’s creation of a fulsome future landscape and by author Philip K. Dick’s considerations of problems resulting from human creations. This combination has helped reshape the genre, influencing the likes ofBrazil(1985),Akira(1988),La cité des enfants perdus(1995),Strange Days(1995) andDark City(1998).

      The ‘standard’ vision of the city of the future now comes from the Los Angeles that Scott and...

    • REDEMPTION, ‘RACE’, RELIGION, REALITY AND THE FAR-RIGHT: SCIENCE FICTION FILM ADAPTATIONS OF PHILIP K. DICK
      (pp. 59-76)
      DOMINIC ALESSIO

      According toThe Encyclopedia of Science FictionPhilip K. Dick (PKD) is ‘one of the two or three most important figures in 20th century US Science Fiction’ (Clute & Nicholls 1999: 328). Likewise, John Mann inThe Mammoth Encyclopedia of Science Fictionrefers to PKD as ‘possibly the most important SF writer of the second half of the twentieth century’ (2001: 121). Not surprisingly, a number of academic texts have been devoted to examining his vast output of science fiction short stories, which number in the hundreds, as well as his forty-four published novels.¹ These same critical works have, however...

  9. SECTION 2: PLAYING BLADE RUNNER

    • REPLICATING THE BLADE RUNNER
      (pp. 79-91)
      BARRY ATKINS

      It has been some time since it was possible to discussBlade Runneras if it were a single and fixed text that might be considered in isolation from its history of multiple prints, or detached from its vast array of intertexts, paratexts, references and allusions. It might not have been the first example of a film given a second release in the form of a director’s cut, but its various refashionings have caught the attention of both fans and academic commentators to an unusual degree, and its influence on succeeding imaginative representations of the future city has been considerable....

    • IMPLANTED MEMORIES, OR THE ILLUSION OF FREE ACTION
      (pp. 92-108)
      SUSANA P. TOSCA

      The replicants’ struggle for freedom is a very human one. As sentient beings who know they are alive, they want to control their own destinies. In the film, Roy and Pris explain this to Sebastian, whose accelerated decrepitude illness makes him sympathetic to the replicants’ hunger for life: ‘We’re not computers, Sebastian. We’re physical’, he says; ‘I think, therefore I am’, she adds. But what does she think? According to classical philosophy, and for a rationalist like Descartes, free will is impossible without knowledge,² but replicants cannot be sure of what they know (their memories are fake implants and do...

  10. SECTION 3: FANS

    • SCANNING THE REPLICANT TEXT
      (pp. 111-123)
      JONATHAN GRAY

      From 2001 onwards, manyBlade Runnerwebsites and online discussion groups have been alive with talk of a potential Special Edition DVD release, and all the bonus features that it might offer.¹ 2002 was set as the release date, but in April of that year, reports surfaced of legal problems, and the project has been stalled in production limbo ever since, much to the chagrin and frustration of the film’s fan base. Amidst the finger-pointing, some wild speculation, and the carefully pieced together reports at BRmovie.com, is a commonly voiced sentiment: that the fans and the viewing public deserve their...

    • ACADEMIC TEXTUAL POACHERS: BLADE RUNNER AS CULT CANONICAL MOVIE
      (pp. 124-141)
      MATT HILLS

      This chapter will explore interpretations ofBlade Runner, but will diverge Runner from one orthodoxy in media and cultural studies, adoxathat has tended to consistently define ‘the fan’ as being opposed to ‘the academic’. My aims in doing so are two-fold: I want to suggest that academics’ readings ofBlade Runnercan be significantly addressed as types of cultist response, that is, as examples of ‘textual poaching’ (Jenkins 1992). And I want to consider howBlade Runner’s cult status – linked as it is to the film’s academic canonisation Runner – has sustained overlaps and intersections between what might otherwise...

    • ORIGINALS AND COPIES: THE FANS OF PHILIP K. DICK, BLADE RUNNER AND K. W. JETER
      (pp. 142-156)
      CHRISTY GRAY

      Philip K. Dick died on 2 March 1982; the same month I celebrated my first birthday. Sitting in my playpen, surrounded by a menagerie of toy animals, I was blissfully unaware that one of the world’s most gifted science fiction writers had just passed away. Little did I know that twenty years later I would be standing in an East London art gallery, at midnight, surrounded by a dozen fans attempting to communicate with Philip K. Dick’s spirit. This event, which took place in a converted church, was put on by a group of PKD fans called the London Bughouse,...

  11. SECTION 4: IDENTITIES

    • THE RACHEL PAPERS: IN SEARCH OF BLADE RUNNER’S FEMME FATALE
      (pp. 159-172)
      DEBORAH JERMYN

      Women are a problem in the world ofBlade Runner. Even in their absence Runner they instigate devastation; in the film’s very first scene, Holden’s request that Leon ‘Describe in single words only the good things that come into your mind about … your mother’ elicits the firing of a bullet into his chest.Blade Runner’s Runner women seem to figure overwhelmingly as dangerous or devious creatures, getting by, for example, through the manipulation of a façade of child-like innocence (Pris) or brazen sexuality (Zhora). ‘Talk about beauty and the beast’ says Bryant of Zhora early in the film, warning...

    • PURGE! CLASS PATHOLOGY IN BLADE RUNNER
      (pp. 173-189)
      SEAN REDMOND

      Blade Runnerhas become one of the most lauded science fiction films ever made.¹ Cult fans dedicate online homage to it, such asThe Replicant Site, and organise conventions to consider again and again its cultural and aesthetic merits, and to offer collective answers and solutions to its ambiguous or open-ended narrative. Academics have written about it in terms of its racial and sexual politics (Dyer; 1997; Desser 2000), its exploration of humanity and postmodernity (Sobchack 1987; Ryan & Kellner 1990; Bruno 1990), and in terms of the way it challenges many of the accepted/expected codes and conventions of the...

    • POSTMODERN ROMANCE: THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF (DE)CENTRING THE SELF
      (pp. 190-200)
      NICK LACEY

      Blade Runneris often treated as an exemplary postmodern text (for example, see Sobchack 1987; Bruno 1990; Boozer Jr. 1997; Hill 1998) but it, along with science fiction films that followed such asDark City(1998),The Truman Show(1999),The Matrix(1999) andVanilla Sky(2001) celebrated (humanist) romantic love as the core of the human condition and the antidote to a ‘paranoid world’. This does not square with the postmodern view of what it means to be human:

      The posthuman view considers consciousness regarded as the seat of human identity in the Western tradition … as an evolutionary...

  12. SECTION 5: THE CITY

    • FALSE LA: BLADE RUNNER AND THE NIGHTMARE CITY
      (pp. 203-212)
      STEPHEN ROWLEY

      Ridley Scott has always been a highly visual, design-driven filmmaker, and the strength of his work is his strong grasp of mood and environment. It is characteristic, then, that the vision of ‘Los Angeles: 2019’ inBlade Runnerremains central to the film’s appeal well over twenty years later. In one of several recent volumes that address links between theories of urban planning and the cinema, Marcus A. Doel and David B. Clarke seem almost sheepish at bringingBlade Runnerinto the discussion. How, they ask rhetorically, can they justify further analysis of the film, ‘beyond the trivial reasoning that...

    • IMAGINING THE REAL: BLADE RUNNER AND DISCOURSES ON THE POSTMETROPOLIS
      (pp. 213-224)
      PETER BROOKER

      Paul M. Sammon reports that there was a thought at one time of using the Bonaventure Hotel as the location for Tyrell’s office inBlade Runner(1996: 125). The Bonaventure has assumed a classic status, of course, in debates on postmodern hyperspace. For it was here, most famously, that Fredric Jameson’s experience of disorientation prompted the call for a double accented ‘cognitive mapping’ which would, on the one hand, take a guest comfortably around the hotel and, on the other, provide a ‘symbol and analogon’ of the newly spatialised global operations of late capitalism (1991: 44). Mike Davis (1988) in...

  13. FILMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 225-229)
  14. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 230-244)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 245-254)