Study Guide for Blade Runner

1. Citations from T. Dunn and R. Erlich, Clockworks:

Blade Runner. Ridley Scott, dir. USA: Warner (et al.), 1982. 114 or 188 min. film, VHS 123 min. Based on Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

A 1940s film noir detective thriller set in 2019, in a Los Angeles extrapolated (ethically) from that of Roman Polanski's Chinatown (1974). Significant for placing a Frankenstein theme in a funky, punkish (or cyberpunk), corporation-dominated world, and for its alternative investigation of Dick's questions on the differences and similarities between humans and androids (called here "replicants"). See V. Sobchack, Screening Space, Chapter 4 (passim) and Retrofitting Blade Runner. . . .

Blade Runner-The Director's Cut. Ridley Scott, dir. USA: Warner (et al.) (1982) / 1991 (copyright), 1992 (release). 117 min.

A separately copyrighted version of the film deleting the voice-over narration and the final escape sequence ending the 1982 version, and adding "the expunged unicorn scene which suggests that Deckard is a replicant" (quoting Dennis K. Fischer, Cinefantastique 22.5 [April 1992]: 60). The unicorn scene is very brief, and the suggestion of Deckard's being a replicant is very subtle.

2. Cast List

Rick Deckard: Harrison Ford Rachael: Sean Young
Roy Batty: Rutger Hauer Gaff: Edward James Olmos
Bryant: M. Emmet Walsh J. F. Sebastian: William Sanderson
Pris: Darryl Hannah Leon: Brion James
Tyrell: Joe Turkel Zorah: Joanna Cassidy

3. Comments and Questions

  1. Blade Runner is best known for its cyberpunk mise en scene: the incredibly dense texture of its shots (esp. impressive if you know the street scenes were shot on a back lot: the tricks are mostly old-fashioned set dressing and theatrical effects). Watch very carefully for how a whole culture is suggested visually: you're cued to watch by all that imagery of eyes.
  2. In Do Androids Dream...?, androids are inhuman because they do not have empathy. Do the humans in Blade Runner feel empathy (or much of anything else)? Do Rachel et al. help to teach Deckard how to be human? If so, what definition are you using (and the film?) for "human"?
  3. How is Tyrell both like and unlike Jon Frederson of Metropolis, like Rotwang on Metropolis? How is Blade Runner generally like and unlike its great predecessor?