The science fiction film, Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott, first released in 1982 and loosely based on Philip K. Dick's novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,1 has continued to fascinate film viewers, theorists and critics for more than fifteen years. Writings include Judith B. Kerman's Retrofitting Blade Runner, a collection of academic essays;2 Paul M. Sammon's book on the making of the various versions of the film;3 and an extensive network of publications are available via the World-Wide Web.4 A student colleague has just seen the film for the eighteenth time.
The "Director's Cut", released in 1992, is a more satisfying version of the film than earlier releases, mainly because narration is excluded, more mythological ambiguity is introduced (with the inclusion of a scene of a unicorn running through a forest), and the finalé of an escape into nature is removed. In the context of Blade Runner's dystopia such an ending is incredible; for science fiction to succeed there needs to be plausibility within speculation.
Since the Director's Cut, Blade Runner seems to have had a phoenix-like resurgence. Just as the simulated humans, or replicants, become more than the sum of their parts as they develop "humanity", so the film has become more than the sum of its parts as interaction - among critics and fans as well as scriptwriters, actors and film crew - contributes to ways of seeing. Scott describes depth in film as like a seven hundred-layer cake.5 Ideas presented in these layers can expand and deepen in the viewer's mind. The viewer's eye becomes as important for the ongoing life of the film as the eyes on which the camera focuses in Blade Runner.6
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...uiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, Blackwell, Cambridge MA, 1989, p.312.
15 The White Goddess: a historical grammar of poetic myth, Farrer, Straus & Giroux, New York,1984, p. 255.
16 Carson, op. cit., p.21.
17 Carson, op. cit., p.22.
18 Steve Carper, "Subverting the Disaffected City", Kerman, Retrofitting Blade-Runner op. cit., p.193.
19 Sammon. op. cit., p.6.
20 Guardian Weekly, July 20, 1997, p.24.
21 The New Internationalist, op. cit., p.17.
22 "The Soul of Science", Resurgence, September/October, 1997. No.184, p.9.
23 The Mercury, Hobart, Tasmania, Sept. 1. 1997. Co author Stephen Steigrad, Department of Reproductive Medicine at Sydney's Royal Hospital for Women, found that 276 families through four fertility units did not plan to tell their children that they were the product of artificial insemination with sperm from donors.
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