Welcome to my page dedicated to the 1982 Ridley Scott movie Blade Runner starring Harrison Ford, Sean Young and Rutger Hauer. This page is currently still being worked on. A section on the Blade Runner games and the sequel has been added (March 2016).
The plot of Blade Runner
In Los Angeles, November 2019, retired police officer Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is detained by officer Gaff (Edward James Olmos) and brought to meet with his former supervisor, Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh). Deckard, whose job as a “Blade Runner” was to track down bioengineered beings known as replicants and “retire” them (“retire” being the official term for the killing of replicants), is told by Bryant that several have escaped and come to Earth illegally. As Tyrell Corporation Nexus-6 models, they have only a four-year lifespan, and may have come to Earth to try to extend their lives.
Deckard watches a video of another Blade Runner named Holden (Morgan Paull) administering a “Voight-Kampff” test designed to distinguish humans from replicants based on their empathic response to questions. The subject of the test, Leon (Brion James), shoots Holden. Bryant wants Deckard to return to work to retire Leon and three other replicants—Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) and Pris (Daryl Hannah). Deckard refuses, but after Bryant makes a veiled threat, he reluctantly agrees.
Sent to the Tyrell Corporation to ensure that the test works on Nexus-6 models, Deckard discovers that Tyrell’s (Joe Turkel) assistant Rachael (Sean Young) is an experimental replicant who believes herself to be human; Rachael’s consciousness has been enhanced with false memories to provide an “emotional cushion”. As a result, a more extensive test is required to determine if she is a replicant.
Trying to find a way to meet with Tyrell, Roy and Leon go to the eye-manufacturing laboratory of Chew (James Hong), forcing him to divulge the identity of J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson), a gifted designer who works closely with Tyrell. Rachael visits Deckard at his apartment to prove her humanity by showing him a family photo. Dropping the photo to the floor, Rachael leaves in tears after Deckard tells her that her memories are only implants taken from a real person. Sent by Roy, Pris meets and gains the confidence of Sebastian at his apartment, where he lives with manufactured companions.
While searching Leon’s apartment, Deckard finds a photo of Zhora, and a synthetic snake scale that leads him to a strip club where Zhora works. Deckard retires Zhora, and shortly after is told by Bryant to add Rachael, who has disappeared from the Tyrell Corporation headquarters, to his list of retirements. Deckard spots Rachael in a crowd but is disarmed and attacked by Leon, who saw him kill Zhora. Rachael kills Leon using Deckard’s gun, and the two return to Deckard’s apartment, where he promises not to hunt Rachael. Later they share an intimate moment; Rachael then tries to leave, but Deckard seduces her.
Arriving at Sebastian’s apartment, Roy tells Pris the others are dead. Sympathetic to their plight, Sebastian reveals that because of a genetic disorder that accelerates his aging, his life will also be cut short. Under a pretext, Sebastian and Roy gain entrance into Tyrell’s secure penthouse, where Roy demands more life from his maker. Told that this has proved to be impossible, Roy confesses that he has done “questionable things”. Tyrell dismisses Roy’s guilt, praising Roy’s advanced design and his accomplishments. Responding “Nothing the god of biomechanics wouldn’t let you into heaven for”, Roy kisses Tyrell, then kills him. Sebastian runs for the elevator followed by Roy, who rides the elevator down alone.[nb 1]
Upon entering Sebastian’s apartment, Deckard is ambushed by Pris, but manages to kill her just as Roy returns. Roy fights Deckard without using his full strength against him. Eventually Deckard is hanging from a rooftop. Just as he is about to fall, Roy saves him. His life ending, Roy delivers a monologue on how his memories are about to be lost and dies in front of Deckard, who watches silently. Gaff arrives and, referring to Rachael, shouts to Deckard “It’s too bad she won’t live, but then again, who does?” Deckard returns to his apartment to find Rachael alive and sleeping in his bed; as they leave, Deckard finds a small tin-foil unicorn, a calling card left by his origami-making partner Gaff. Depending on the version, Deckard and Rachael either leave the apartment block to an uncertain future, or drive through an idyllic pastoral landscape.
Blade Runner Gallery
Books on Blade Runner
Blade Runner’s script may have been written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, but the story is based on Do Android Dream Of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. That novel was originally released in 1968, some time after the author came to fame in the 50’s. It is thus strange that the story would be the first to be adapted as a movie. An early backer of an adaptation was actually actor Gregory Peck. Blade Runner maintains most of the themes of the original novel, though the myriad of subtle changes taken cumulatively mean that both exist side by side as separate stories. I enjoyed the novel, but I consider the movie a better version of a slightly different story.
Besides the original novel by Philip K. Dick three sequels were written by his friend K. W. Jeter. They bare the title Blade Runner (with additional subtitles) and are thus separate from the novel. They continue where Deckard and Rachel left off. For a while the novels were intended to be adapted as movies as proper sequels. But I think their controversial content stopped any progress. The stories tried to use small plot holes to create a new ‘conspiracy’ story framed in the larger Blade Runner universe. However, the blatant contradictions were annoying and blemished the original movie. Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Humans released in 1995 is particularly guilty of this. Blade Runner 3: Replicant Night felt somewhat contrived when Rick Deckard acts as a consultant on a movie set to tell his original Blade Runner story. Replicants are used as characters because they are disposable. Some have to endure a death they know is unavoidable. The novel also details some of the backstory of how the Tyrell Corporation got started, but it alternated between boring and confusing. Blade Runner 3 as such had a grim story that made it somewhat memorable, but not plausible. Blade Runner 4: Eye and Talon released in 2000 continues the theme from book 3, a female replicant unknowingly acts the part of a Blade Runner in a movie. In the end Deckard intervenes in the movie to save her life. You may want to pick up the novels if you want, but I rather endure watching the Blade Runner sequel directed by Denis Villeneuve than ever read these novels again. If they did not bare the title Blade Runner they would have been considered a marginally good trilogy.
Blade Runner has sparked a number of authors to write books about its production and release. Paul M. Sammon’s Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner is generally considered the best authorative work on Blade Runner. It details the origins of the idea to turn Philip K. Dick’s novel into a movie, the many times the rights to it changed hands and how Ridley Scott almost did not make the movie. I considered the book interesting because of its many warnings on how not to produce a movie. The author, Paul M. Sammon, uses first hand knowledge of the production to write the book. When Blade Runner was in production he was tasked to write articles for Cinefantastique magazine which he used for the book.
A second book often considered authoritative is Don Shay’s Blade Runner: The Inside Story. It details the set designs with sketches and drawings.
Blade Runner’s impressive visual style was certain to inspire many computer games. Yet, only two are set in the actual Blade Runner universe. The first game titled Blade Runner was released in 1985. It received only mixed reviews. The second game was confusingly also called Blade Runner. This was a point-and-click adventure released by what was then Westwood studios, the developers behind Command And Conquer. The game received favorable reviews and is perhaps responsible for renewed interest in the franchise. It featured an entirely new storyline written by David Yorkin and David Leary and had a soundtrack by none other than Frank Klepacki. The game was perhaps more famous for its very expensive production, though it sold well the profit that was made was not considerable. Recently there were calls for the game to be released in HD, thus getting rid of the obsolete voxel technique graphics. Sadly, the production studio lost the original code. For those wanting to experience Blade Runner interactively will have to wait for Cyberpunk 2077, an upcoming game from CD Projekt who also developed The Witcher series. Cyberpunk 2077 currently has an expected release date of no earlier than late 2017.
The Blade Runner Sequel
A second Blade Runner has been in development hell for years. The K.W. Jeter novels were the first source of rumors. However, since the release of the Blu-Ray edition in 2008 rumors have finally solidified. Blade Runner 2 is set for release on January 12th 2018. The movie will star Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, but it is expected he will hand over the reigns of any actual Blade-Running to actor Ryan Gosling.
The screenwriter of the original movie, Hampton Fancher, returned for the sequel, but director Ridley Scott has not. He will act as producer. Instead director Denis Villeneuve will take over as director. Villeneuve has made a considerable impression over the last 5 years with movies such as Incendies, Prisoners and recently Sicario starring Emily Blunt.
Little is known about the story. The only confirmed fact is that movie is set several decades after the first, making it unlikely that any of the novels or other spin-offs were used as source material. Fancher is only one half of the writing team. The second half is Michael Green, a producer and writer who has series Kings, Sex and the City, the River and Everwood to his credit. Over the next two years two other movies for which he wrote the screenplay will be released: Alien Covenant, directed by Ridley Scott, and the new Wolverine movie starring Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart.
The release, early January 2018, may surprise readers. The date seems to confirm that just like the original movie Blade Runner 2 may not be targeted towards a broad audience. Blade Runner was arguably a slow movie, little in the way of action, and not a do-over of Star Wars that its original financiers had hoped it would be. Blade Runner tackled topics philosophical topics as the nature of live, Artificial Intelligence and the soul. I can only hope the sequel does as well.
Blade Runner has since its release spawned a large cult following. The following are the best websites for more in-depth knowledge.
BladeZone – this website is probably the oldest BR resource online, it’s incarnation dates back from 1996. It features tons of in-depth articles that no wiki can challenge. I have been a regular visitor to this website since the late 90’s, but after the Final Cut was released news update shave only been sporadic. Sadly, the forum has also been quiet since 2013.
Off-world – this is a wiki that is only sporadically updated. From the revisions log it becomes clear the authors were struggling with some of the myths surrounding the franchise. Supposedly the tabletop game Cyberpunk 20XX (if which three version exists) takes in he same physical world as Blade Runner. This may have been true once but is no longer so.
Blade Runner Insight – This website is probably the ‘go to place’ for all things BR at this moment. It is has a vast amount of articles and is regularly updated. The website uses a fresh wordpress theme that doesn’t make you feel as if you’re using a 90’s desktop. In fact, its actually a few months older than BladeZone as it went online in July 1996.
Blade Runner Online Magazine – another very old resource including tacky late 90’s score that somehow you can’t switch off. the site has not been updated in a decade but it does include some interesting background articles.
2019 Off-world – started in 1992 (no that is not a typo) by Johan van Oast and stopped in 2005. This website has a number of articles, but the author advices viewers to check elsewhere.
Blade Runner 2 Movie – I could not end the list of resources without involving the announced sequel. At this moment there aren’t any official website yet, but Blade Runner 2 movie is an interesting blog even if the updates are sparse. Its discussion board is quite lively, so check it out.