Two crimes against humanity. Yes, I shall commit two crimes against humanity in this post. The first is to suggest that the movie Blade Runner is better than Philip K Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep which inspired it. This, despite the fact that I argue that books are typically better and the best of each is always books. The second is that I actually like the voice-over in the original theatrical release of Blade Runner (although the bucolic ending was a bit much even for me). Now, before I’m lynched, I like both the movie and the book; moreover, I certainly understand the purists who don’t want to sully the stark drive of the movie with the voice over.
So what brought all this reflecting on Blade Runner? I’m in the midst of reading Rosa Montero’s excellent Tears In Rain translated by Lilit Zekulin Thwaites (reviewed) which draws its initial premise from Blade Runner (yes the movie, not the book) although her book is quite different. The angst of the protagonist, Bruna Husky, is captured in the quote from Roy Batty’s dying words:
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 Tannhäuser Gate. All those… moments… will be lost in time, like tears… in… rain. Time… to die…
This, brought together not only the poetic images of the film, from Pris’s acrobatics to Sebastian’s toys, coupled with a storyline that seemed more compelling are what lead me to this opinion. Mr. Dick’s story was very different and brought out many great themes, but I’m not sure I ever really “got” the whole Mercerism and the Empathy Boxes component. I also liked the role Rachel played in the movie.
And, yes, I come down on the Deckard-isn’t-a-replicant-side. I know. 3 for 3.
If possible, however, I commit even more sacrilege: I actually like the voice-over in the original theatrical release. It seemed to emphasize the film noir aspect to the movie (as if Rachael’s look wasn’t enough). It was Philip Marlowe/Sam Spade brought into the 21st century (the film setting is in a Los Angeles supposedly only 6 years away).
Harrison Ford’s voice was perfect for this as well.
The main thing is, of course, the great story of the film and the book. In all its iterations, Blade Runner is a great film. I was struck, however, by Ms. Montero’s (an author, of all people) outright focus on Blade Runner and not the book, that I felt just a little better about my somewhat warped perspective I have on a cult classic and could admit it in public.