Classic 80s Movie: “Blade Runner”

December 13th, 2013 by

Today’s Classic 80s Movie guest post comes from Nicholas James West.

Movie Title: Blade Runner

Year: 1982

Writers: Philip K. Dick, Hampton Fancher, David Webb Peoples

blade_runner poster

Lead Actors: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos

Director: Ridley Scott

Plot Summary: Deckard, a blade runner, is tasked to track down and terminate a group of replicants who have hijacked a ship and have returned to Earth in search of their maker.

Why I Think This Is A Classic 80s Movie:  Back when my friends and I discovered Blade Runner on VHS (circa 1990), we were blown away. It was everything someone moving into their teen years needed; angst-filled, sexy, dirty, full of fantastic dialogue, and art direction like nothing else—then or since!

In a hip way the movie felt dated when I was a teenager. You could point to it as an example of supreme old school filmmaking. We were just moving into a CG world, and none of us bought the bullshit (remember again, the 90s). So, when I say, “dated” I mean it as a compliment. The themes were biblical, Greek, or mythic and the special effects matched this tone.

At the same time, Blade Runner was advanced in its ambitions. It was full of character, life, and story. You had to read between the lines. Watch it again and again to fully understand it. You had to search every frame for clues and nuance. Each scene was presented as a mystery. You had to seek out different cuts of the movie to understand everything. (No easy task, pre-internet.) The infamous voiceover version drove me crazy (As I had read that Ford and Scott hated it). When they released a “director’s cut” in 1993, I promptly stole a copy from my local video store.

For my friends and I, Blade Runner was a part of our aesthetic. It was a part of our personas, as we traveled the city in combat boots and black jackets. It seemed only we understood the the movie. It was our 80s cinema. As it turns out, however, we weren’t the only ones. The influence of Blade Runner is that of pioneer, cult hero, and eventual classic. And, like classics that came before, it is hard to imagine modern cinema without the trailblazing of Scott and company.

My Favorite Moment In The Movie: When Roy (Rutger Hauer) confronts his maker, Dr. Tyrell. He begs for a longer life. They engage in a chess-like debate—chess is also the catalyst for the entire encounter—and as Roy has just trumped his god on the board, he is now given the checkmate dialogue, “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long…” Followed by a very disturbing event that echoes the descent into the underworld from the old tales.

My Favorite Dialogue In the Movie: Deckard (Harrison Ford) represents so many things, but on the surface he is the old hardboiled detective from noir being reintroduced to the audience. His not-so-faux bravado is summed up when asked if he cares for androids: “Replicants are like any other machine – they’re either a benefit or a hazard. If they’re a benefit, it’s not my problem.”

As the themes and twists are revealed, this snippy retort turns out to have more subtext than first glance. As a matter of fact, pretty much every line in the movie has several meanings and symbolic framework.

Key Things You Should Look For When Watching This Movie
:The amount of symbolism in this movie is off the charts.

-The dreamlike editing. Is it supposed to represent memories?
-The themes and questions; mainly, what is it to be human?
-What could’ve been an overblown dance sequence is instead left to the imagination. “Watch her take the pleasures from the serpent; that once corrupted man.”
-The hero, Deckard, takes his love by force. While disturbing to modern taste—movie heroes cannot rape a conquest—ancient protagonists often did.
-Replicants eyes reflecting like cats.
-Roy is the antichrist. He murders god. Yet somehow he also becomes savior. His hand is pierced by a nail. He sacrifices his cause for another. A white dove. A baptism. It’s actually a bit overt—albeit beautiful.
-The big question, subtly represented, is Deckard a replicant himself? Some of the original crew disagree on this, but really, he is. The unicorn, man. It’s all there.

Thanks, Nick! To show our gratitude for your guest post, here’s a dash of creative juju for you. Whoosh!

Tomorrow: Another Classic 80s Movie!

I’m still looking for people to write guest posts in this series. Please email me with the movie you’d like to cover. Here is a template you should use:

Movie Title

Year

Writers (both screenwriters and any authors whose books were used as the basis for adaptation)

Lead Actors (Just the main ones)

Director

IMDB Plot Summary (You can find that directly under the Your Rating box. If you don’t feel the summary does the story justice, feel free to write up a logline of your own.)

Why I Think This Is A Classic 80s Movies (Feel free to write as much as you’d like up to a half-page or so.)

My Favorite Moment In The Movie

My Favorite Dialogue In the Movie (IMDB has a Quotes section for almost every movie, so you can find key dialogue in your movie’s site.)

Key Things You Should Look For When Watching This Movie

Please use this exact template to help me in the editing process.

If you can find a YouTube clip from the film or its trailer, include that URL.

When you are done with your guest post, you may simply copy and paste the content into an email to me.

I will run the posts in the order I receive them.

And if you emailed me about doing a specific movie, but haven’t sent in your guest post, now’s the time!

Thanks, everyone!

Daily Dialogue — June 27, 2013

June 27th, 2013 by

INT. TYRELL’S OFFICE – A LITTLE LATER

Rachael’s eye fills the screen, the iris brilliant, shot with light, the pupil contracting. We hear Deckard’s voice and we have the impression the test has been going on for a while.

DECKARD (O.S.): You are given a calfskin wallet for your birthday…

Tyrell stands silhouetted behind Deckard, who sits in front of Rachael.

The needles in both gauges swing violently past green to red, then subside.

RACHAEL: I wouldn’t accept it, also I’d report the person who gave it to me to the police.
DECKARD: You have a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection, plus the killing jar.

Again the gauges register, but not so far.

RACHAEL: I’d take him to the doctor.
DECKARD: You’re watching TV and suddenly you notice a wasp crawling on your wrist.
RACHAEL: I’d kill it.

Both needles go red. Deckard makes a note, takes a sip of coffee and continues.

DECKARD: In a magazine you come across a full-page photo of a nude girl.
RACHAEL: Is this testing whether I’m a replicant or a lesbian?
DECKARD: You show the picture to your husband. He likes it and hangs it on the wall. The girl is lying on a bearskin rug.
RACHAEL: I wouldn’t let him.
DECKARD: Why not?
RACHAEL: I should be enough for him.

Deckard frowns, then smiles. His smile looks a little like a grimace or the other way around.

DECKARD: Last question. You’re watching an old movie. It shows a banquet in progress, the guests are enjoying raw oysters.
RACHAEL: Ugh.

Both needles swing swiftly.

DECKARD: The entree consists of boiled dog stuffed with rice.

Needles move less.

DECKARD: (continuing) The raw oysters are less acceptable to you than a dish of boiled dog.

Deckard switches off his beam.

TYRELL: Well, Mr. Deckard?

Deckard is looking at Tyrell and wincing indecisively.

He doesn’t get it. Are they playing with him?

TYRELL: (continuing) Perhaps some privacy will loosen your tongue, Mr. Deckard.

He turns to Rachael

TYRELL: Would you step out for a few moments, Rachael?

Rachael exits looking a little shaken. What’s going on?

Blade Runner (1982), screenplay Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples, novel by Philip K. Dick

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week is interrogation, suggested by Def Earz. Today’s suggestion by Mark Walker.

Trivia: While the film is loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, the title comes from a book by Alan Nourse called “The Bladerunner”. William S. Burroughs wrote a screenplay based on the Nourse book and a novella entitled “Blade Runner: A Movie.” Ridley Scott bought the rights to the title but not the screenplay or the book. The Burroughs composition defines a blade runner as “a person who sells illegal surgical instruments”.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Commentary from Mark: “What is great about the scene is how it wrong foots both Deckard and the audience. We think we know about replicants and how they can be easily identified and “retired”. But Rachel is different, and the ides that she is a replicant is worrying for Deckard….and throws a curveball at the audience. What we thought we knew about replicants is pulled from under us. If Rachel can be tricked into thinking she is human, what does that mean for the rest of us? (Sssssh Deckard is a replicant). So it is a great turning point in the film when we start to question what we know about this world and the characters in it.”

Daily Dialogue — April 2, 2012

April 2nd, 2012 by

Batty: Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.

Batty: I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

– Batty (Rutger Hauer), Blade Runner (1982), screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples, based on a novel by Philip K. Dick

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week is facing death, suggested by @tiffanyleigh and @al_grinter. Today’s suggestion by JasperLamarCrab.

Trivia: One of David Webb Peoples’s early screenplays opened the movie on an Off-World Termination Dump, where three dead replicants were to be disposed of. Peoples reused this idea of discarding dead servants on an off-world colony dump in his screenplay for Soldier, which he considered a ‘side-quel’ to Blade Runner (1982) (i.e. an unrelated movie taking place in the same fictional universe).

Dialogue: As Jasper said in his comment, this is a twofer: “dialogue when another character is facing death, and dialogue when the speaker is facing death.”

Daily Dialogue — March 7, 2012

March 7th, 2012 by

Bryant: Hiya, Deck.

Deckard: Bryant.

Bryant: You wouldn’t have come if I just asked you to. Sit down, pal. C’mon, don’t be an asshole, Deckard. I’ve got four skin jobs walking the streets. They jumped a shuttle off world killed the crew and passengers. They found the shuttle drifting off the coast two weeks ago so we know they’re around.

Deckard: Embarrassing.

Bryant: No, sir. Not embarrassing, because no one’s ever going to find out they’re down here. Because you’re going to spot them, and you’re going to air them out.

Deckard: I don’t work here anymore. Give it to Holden, he’s good.

Bryant: I did. He can breath okay as long as nobody unplugs him. He’s not good enough, not as good as you. I need you, Deck. This is a bad one, the worse yet. I need the old blade runner, I need your magic.

Deckard: I was quit when I came in here, Bryant. I’m twice as quit now.

Bryant: Stop right where you are. You know the score, pal. If you’re not cop, you’re little people.

Deckard: No choice, huh?

Bryant: No choice, pal.

– Deckard (Harrison Ford), Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh), Blade Runner (1984), screenplay by Hampton Fincher and David Webb Peoples, based on a novel by Philip K. Dick

The Daily Dialogue theme for the week is refusal of the call, suggested by Ryan Smith. Today’s suggestion by Def Earz.

Trivia: Philip K. Dick first came up with the idea for his novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ in 1962, when researching ‘The Man in the High Castle’ which deals with the Nazis conquering the planet in the 1940s. Dick had been granted access to archived World War II Gestapo documents in the University of California at Berkley, and had come across diaries written by S.S. men stationed in Poland, which he found almost unreadable in their casual cruelty and lack of human empathy. One sentence in particular troubled him: “We are kept awake at night by the cries of starving children.” Dick was so horrified by this sentence that he reasoned there was obviously something wrong with the man who wrote it. This led him to hypothesize that Nazism in general was a defective group mind, a mind so emotionally flawed that the word human could not be applied to them; their lack of empathy was so pronounced that Dick reasoned they couldn’t be referred to as human beings, even though their outward appearance seemed to indicate that they were human. The novel sprang from this.

Dialogue On Dialogue: Here is a case of resignation to the call.

Script To Screen: “Blade Runner”

January 11th, 2012 by

Batty and Deckard’s final struggle from the movie Blade Runner [screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples, based on a novel by Philip K. Dick].

Set-Up: All of his kin are dead and Batty goes after Deckard.

        Batty looks down at Deckard.

        Batty grins and takes a seat only a couple of feet
        from Deckard.

        Deckard's bad hand lets go.  He's hanging by one hand.

        The street looms way below.

        Deckard looks desperately into Batty's cold eyes.

        Batty grins and shakes his head at the absurdity of it.

        Deckard looks into that awful smile and sees no hope
        there.

        Batty glances down at his own hand.  Spasms again.

        Deckard's hand is going.  He knows it's over now, he
        bites the bullet of his anger.  He glares at Batty as
        his grip gives way.

                                DECKARD
                  Asshole!

        Batty meets Deckard's angry eyes.

        Deckard's hand continues to slip.

        Batty is still looking at Deckard's rage.  It moves the
        warrior in him, you can see Batty change his opinion.

        Too late!  Deckard's hand goes.

        Batty's hand is like lightning.  He catches Deckard's
        hand and holds Deckard.

        Deckard is suspended above the awesome drop, not sure
        why he's not falling.  He opens his tightly closed eyes
        and looks up.

        He looks up into the stern warrior face of Batty, the
        cold eyes!

        Deckard hangs there and for a moment he has to consider
        whether this is the continuation of a cruel game.

        The Batty is hauling him up one-handed and with that
        scary strength he has.

        Deckard is pulled onto the roof where he lies on his
        stomach gasping for breath, not moving, just feeling
        something solid under him.

        Batty looks at the man gasping next to him with the
        cold eyes of a man looking at a fish.  It is as though
        Deckard is some species far below Batty on the evolu-
        tionary scale.

        Batty's hand cramps again.

        Batty looks at it, almost with curiosity.

                                                   JUMP CUT TO:

        EXT. THE SECOND ROOF (LATER)

        Deckard is looking at Batty.

        Batty is partly crumpled, frozen in an unnatural posi-
        tion as though he had been writhing and stopped mid-
        writhe.  He looks back at Deckard with eyes full of
        life and intensity.

        They stare at each other for a long time in silence,
        communicating something with their eyes... without
        expression.  Finally Batty breaks the silence.

                                BATTY
                  I've seen things...
                         (long pause)
                  seen things you little people
                  wouldn't believe... Attack ships
                  on fire off the shoulder of Orion
                  bright as magnesium... I rode on
                  the back decks of a blinker and
                  watched c-beams glitter in the dark
                  near the Tanhauser Gate.
                         (pause)
                  all those moments... they'll be gone.

        Batty holds Deckard's eyes like a hypnotist.

                                                   CUT TO:

        EXT. THE SECOND ROOF (A LITTLE LATER)

        Batty is crumpled in a different position.  It's light-
        er now and Batty's eyes are staring into infinity...
        almost lifelessly.  A pigeon flutters down and perches
        on his shoulder.  Batty doesn't stir.

        Deckard is watching motionless.

        The pigeon flies off.

        Batty doesn't move.  Alive or dead?

Here is the scene in the movie:

Questions to ask to analyze the scene:

* What elements in the movie scene are the same as the script?

* What elements in the movie scene are different than the script?

* Regarding the differences, put yourself in the mindset of the filmmakers and speculate: Why did they make the changes they did?

* How did the changes improve the scene?

* Alternatively are there elements in the script, not present in the movie, that are better than the final version of the scene?

* Note each camera shot in the movie version. Which of them does the script suggest via sluglines or scene description?

* How does the script convey a sense of the scene’s tone, feel, and pace through scene description and dialogue?

* What ‘magic’ exists in the movie that is not indicated in the words of the script? How do you suppose that magic emerged?

I’ll see you in comments for a discussion of this scene from Blade Runner.

One of the single best things you can do to learn the craft of screenwriting is to read the script while watching the movie. After all a screenplay is a blueprint to make a movie and it’s that magic of what happens between printed page and final print that can inform how you approach writing scenes. That is the purpose of Script to Screen, a weekly series on GITS where we analyze a memorable movie scene and the script pages that inspired it.

GITS Script Reading and Analysis Series: “Blade Runner” — Dialogue

October 21st, 2011 by

We wrap up our week long analysis of the script Blade Runner by considering its use of dialogue. There are the standard set of questions:

* What do you consider to be the most memorable lines, either good or… not so good? Why did they work – or not – for you?

* Any notable callbacks (a line used once, then used again later in a different context)?

* How about set-up & payoffs?

* Any exposition that caught your eye for being handled exceptionally well?

See you in comments for a discussion about dialogue in Blade Runner.

For Day 1 of our analysis, go here.

For Day 2 focusing on structure, go here.

For Day 3 focusing on characters, go here.

For Day 4 focusing on themes, go here.

[Remember next week (10/23-10/27), we will be reading The Thing, your choice for the Horror genre. You may access the 1981-03-04 version of the script here.]

NOTE: THIS SERIES AND THE USE OF SCRIPTS IS STRICTLY FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES!

GITS Script Reading and Analysis Series: “Blade Runner” — Themes

October 20th, 2011 by

This week we are analyzing the screenplay for Blade Runner (screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples, based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick), your selection for the Science Fiction genre. If you haven’t had a chance to read the script yet, you may access the 1981-05-15 version of the script here.

Today we discuss themes. There are many themes and motifs at work in Blade Runner. One of them I noticed in a big way while reading the script is eyes. Reference after reference after reference to eyes. What do you think is going on there?

See you in comments for a discussion of themes in Blade Runner.

For Day 1 of our analysis, go here.

For Day 2 focusing on structure, go here.

For Day 3 focusing on characters, go here.

[Remember next week (10/23-10/27), we will be reading The Thing, your choice for the Horror genre. You may access the 1981-03-04 version of the script here.]

NOTE: THIS SERIES AND THE USE OF SCRIPTS IS STRICTLY FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES!

GITS Script Reading and Analysis Series: “Blade Runner” — Characters

October 19th, 2011 by

Welcome to Week 7 of the GITS Script Reading & Analysis series. This week we will be analyzing the screenplay for Blade Runner (screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples, based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick), your selection for the Science Fiction genre. If you haven’t had a chance to read the script yet, you may access the 1981-05-15 version of the script here.

Today we discuss the script’s characters. Here is a list of most of them in order of appearance in the script:

Leon

Holden

Deckard

Gaff

Bryant

Rachael

Tyrell

Batty

Chew

Pris

Sebastian

Egyptian

Salome

HT to Anna Kelian for sourcing two links — here and here — with some interesting questions and answers about specific details about the story. Here is an example:

Q: Batty’s incept date of January 2016 means that he should have lived to
January 2020. Why did he die in November 2019?
A1:The margin of error on a replicant’s lifespan is probably the same as that
of any human with a fatal disease. It was suggested earlier that the short
lifespan was a trade-off for increased performance. It is clear that Roy
had exceeded even Tyrell’s expectations, and so we could expect him to
wear out that little bit before his due expiry date.
A2:Earlier versions of the story were set in 2020, but this was changed when
it was decided that it sounded too much like an eyesight test. The date
was changed to 2019, but this inconsistency remained.

See you in Comments to discuss the characters in Blade Runner.

For Day 1 of our analysis, go here.

For Day 2 focusing on structure, go here.

[Remember next week (10/23-10/27), we will be reading The Thing, your choice for the Horror genre. You may access the 1981-03-04 version of the script here.]

NOTE: THIS SERIES AND THE USE OF SCRIPTS IS STRICTLY FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES!

GITS Script Reading and Analysis Series: “Blade Runner” — Structure

October 18th, 2011 by

Welcome to Week 7 of the GITS Script Reading & Analysis series. This week we will be analyzing the screenplay for Blade Runner (screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples, based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick), your selection for the Science Fiction genre. If you haven’t had a chance to read the script yet, you may access the 1981-05-15 version of the script here.

Today we discuss the script’s structure.

How would you break down the story’s plot?

See you in comments!

For Day 1 of our analysis of Blade Runner, go here.

[Remember next week (10/23-10/27), we will be reading The Thing, your choice for the Horror genre. You may access the 1981-03-04 version of the script here.]

UPDATE: One thing we absolutely need to discuss is the use of voiceover narration. As we all know, the original version had it. The later director’s cut did not. The script only has two examples of it: A VO insert on P. 10 [dated 10/29/81] and at the very end on P. 133. Do you prefer the story with or without the voiceover narration?

GITS Script Reading and Analysis Series: “Blade Runner”

October 17th, 2011 by

Welcome to Week 7 of the GITS Script Reading & Analysis series. This week we will be analyzing the screenplay for Blade Runner (screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples, based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick), your selection for the Science Fiction genre.

If you haven’t had a chance to read the script yet, you may access the 1981-05-15 version of the script here.]

Let’s use this post today for your general reactions to the script.

Did you enjoy it? Why? Why not?

What are the script’s strengths? Are there areas you felt were strengthened in the movie version?

What takeaway can we glean from the script as an example of science fiction writing?

Our schedule for discussion this week:

Monday, October 17: General Comments

Tuesday, October 18: Structure

Wednesday, October 19: Characters

Thursday, October 20: Themes

Friday, October 21: Dialogue

See you in comments!

[Remember next week (10/23-10/27), we will be reading The Thing, your choice for the Horror genre. You may access the 1981-03-04 version of the script here.]