Monday, 15 September 2014

Time to die

I can't help it. No matter how many times I watch Blade Runner, I'm in awe of it. The whole way it looks, sounds, is. It's beautiful. Naturally, its utterly dark, menacing, nihilistic overtones are rights slap bang up my alley. The soundtrack is shuddering, magnificent and visceral. Even the rain is sexual.

Performances seem to ooze from everyone effortlessly. It's Ford's sexiest role, I've decided. However, that is likely to change just as soon as I see him in anything else. But he suits Deckard. He suits both the Deckard from the film and the Deckard from the book, as it goes.

Now I've finally read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and been staggered by the intricacies and the scope of Dick's story, the film seems simpler. It's Deckard and Rachel that remain the most recognisable from the book. Isodore is now Sebastian and he's not a chickenhead. I wonder why they changed what they changed? Where was Deckard's wife? Where was Mercer? Where was the Rachel copy? Inexplicably morphed into some kind of pleasure bot played by a really fabulous Daryl Hannah, that's where. A couple of years later she did Splash. Amazing.

The book never mentions the word Replicant. It's set it San Fransisco, not LA. It's 1992, not 2019. They're called andys. Short for android, obviously. Although, entirely coincidentally, andy is the name of the worst boyfriend I've ever had. Now, I'm not saying there's necessarily anything in that...

The acting and the style of the film meant that that's what was in my head when I read the book. Sean Young, Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer... who else could it be? But Roy in the book is very different to Roy in the film. There are definitely fewer boobs in the book and the first Replicant Deckard kills is an opera singer, not a suspiciously filthy erotic dancer with a penchant for snakes.

In a way Scott really kind of seedied it up for the big screen. But it looks fabulous. And, from the vantage point of the 60s (when the book was written) and 1982 (when the film was made), almost, at a pinch, realistic, potentially. Of course, we all know now, that the second decade of the 21st century isn't really that different from the 1980s. But people used to genuinely think that transparent PVC clothing, vertical cars and humanoid robots would be a thing by now.

Weird how everyone's smoking like it's the late 70s and the technology is suspiciously clunky. But that futuristic crossed with 30s Film Noir crossed with post apocalyptic horror is just perfect. It's all much faster, of course, in the film. Even though the book takes place over 24 hours, so much is missed out, so much background, so much fascinating Dick stuff, that it really becomes a different story.

No talk of the Dust. Why make Sebastian some kind of toy making genius, rather than a lonely chickenhead? Why no more talk of the animals and what they mean? Why no bloody wife? Is it just because it would be too icky for the hero to fall in love with Rachel while cheating on his missus? Really?

But oh my. As much as I adore, love, revere, admire and, yes, slobber over Harrison Ford, this film belongs to Rutger Hauer. Who, by the way, definitely didn't miss leg day before filming this. His final speech is positively Shakespearean. He reminds me of Hamlet, Prospero and Caliban all wrapped up into one peroxided package. He conveys the tragedy of their awakening, their slavery, their false lives wonderfully. The pathos and the confusion and the grief and the betrayal.

It's almost like being a human.

At least they know how long they have. Maybe that's why Deckard looks happy when he realises he's one of them too. He's seen more glory in Roy's death than in anything he's killed for.

Roy is why I love the film and Dick is why I love the book. I wish he could have seen it.

1 comment:

  1. By all accounts PKD had a tour of the set whilst they were filming, just before he died. He was reportedly not happy with what they were doing. I may be misremembering that, though. Have you read the book, Future Noir - The Making of Bladerunner? It's a pretty warts and all account of the film's production and a superb read. Harrison Ford hated working on it and for many years would not talk about it. he felt that Rutger Hauer had Ridley Scott's ear whilst he was just a focal point for Ridley's sets. That must have changed now as he apparently has agreed to do the completely unnecessary, Bladerunner 2. I read Electric Sheep in my twenties and was bored senseless, largely because it bore very little resemblance to the movie I adored. Maybe I should give it another go.