Blade Runner at 25

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Tomorrow is the 25th anniversary of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, which may well be the most dystopian film ever made. Set in the near future, a mere dozen years from now, in a Los Angeles gone as cold and rainy as 19th-century London, it takes the notion that life is a Darwinian struggle and runs with it, shooting as it goes. Amplifying the dark vision of Philip K. Dick, whose short novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? underlies it, Blade Runner ventures that anyone who can afford the trip has abandoned Earth for some distant colony after a catastrophic but undiscussed world war; with a few exceptions, the home planet is now inhabited only by the infirm and the poor—and by a handful of androids slated to die very soon, their life spans limited to four years, and now seeking their maker to ask for a life-extending retooling.

The hero of the book is a bitter bounty hunter named Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford. No, that’s not quite right: Deckard is no hero, just a man who is visibly weary of life and has no particular reason to keep on living. Instead, the real hero of the piece is Roy Batty, leader of the “skin jobs” who have thus far eluded their police pursuers and are now back on terra firma. Their quest is brave but in vain, and most of them suffer at Deckard’s hands. I hope that it is no spoiler to say that in the end Roy, a sort of postmodern Prometheus, dies, as all living things and all things that aspire to life must die. His final words: “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”

To trust Rutger Hauer, who played Roy and whose nicely told memoir All Those Moments has recently been published, the leader of the android pack had a more florid good-bye slated. But, Hauer writes, “Everybody dies before they’re ready, Roy Batty included, and so I cut thirty of his lines.” The result: that spare, elegant ending, even if, as Hauer writes, the bit with the doves had to be improved in postproduction, and even if the screenwriter may have screamed a little....

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Randll Reese Besch - 7/2/2007

Philip K. Dick himself found that ending of Roy Batty "brought tears to my eyes..." or some comment like it. The "skin jobs" aren't androids in the 'Data' sense but more along the lines of genetically engineered assembled beings-living but tougher than a human.With a virus failsafe to kill them. See "RUR" where the word 'robot' was coined for living synthetic creations.
I was sorry so much was left out like the radioactive plague that killed so many animals and mutated some humans to become "chicken necks" in a depleted earth.