An Author That Actually Loves The Movie of His Book

The movie Blade Runner is a pretty substantial departure from the Phillip Dick book "Do Robots Dream of Electric Sheep" on which it was based.  Even so, and perhaps uniquely in literary history, Dick seems to have absolutely loved the movie.  It kept the right elements of the book - ie, what makes us human -- and shed the silly, trippy stuff.

I don't remember it being a huge box office success.  Probably too dark, even with the last minute change of ending (the happy notion that Rachael had no programmed termination date was added to give audiences a more upbeat ending.)  But the movie certainly had a huge effect on the look and feel of sci-fi.  After the Matrix and the Terminator, we are used to future dystopias, but in the 1970's most popular sci-fi had cities that were as bright and shiny as a new penny.   I remember seeing it the first time, and Blade Runner was arresting, a whole new category of sci-fi noir.  I still love the movie, and it wears pretty well, but nowadays fan argue endlessly of the merits of the original release vs. the directors cut.  The latter purges the Harrison Ford narration and happy ending that were tacked on to make the movie more audience friendly.  I personally like the narration-- it feels consistent with the noir genre -- though the faux happy ending is lame.


  1. el coronado:

    Another excellent thing Blade Runner has going for it is (pre-crazy) Sean Young, looking maybe better than she ever did before or since. That was one HAWT replicant. Had Rutger Hauer's Roy ever seen her, his 'I've seen things...' speech at the end would have almost certainly included her.

  2. Another guy named Dan:

    Not sure what you were watching in the 1970s, but I'd hardly think that Soylent Green, Omega Man, or the Planet of the Apes films qualify as shiny as a new penny. And in the case of the flms that did show such environments, like Westworld, Logan's Run or THX-1138, one of the underlying themes was that the chrome and neon was only a facade over a crumbling and sinister reality.

  3. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States:

    Indeed, AGND has it right -- and I'd add to that the dystopia of Rollerball, and the now classic low budget Deathrace 2000. And then there's Alien, which was released in 1979.

    Your memory of the seventies is rose-colored, dude. The SF of the late 60s and 70s was all doom and gloom stuff thanks to the Club of Rome crowd and Paul "I've Never Been Right On A Single Prediction But I Just Won a MacArthur Prize" Ehrlich being taken seriously.

    That was one reason as a kid and later a teen that I liked DC's Legion of Super Heroes -- they were the only comic set in the future which (until ca. the early 90s) didn't succumb to the "Death, Doom, and Destruction... Mostly Death" meme of the future. They showed a future which wasn't perfect, but it worked. Magnus, Robot Fighter is the only one that compares, offhand, and it was started before JFK was killed -- and even it is a mild dystopia or cautionary tale.

  4. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States:

    As far as the movie, I'm not a big film noir guy, though it does have its moments (anything with Bogey can't be too bad, and Double Indemnity and Sunset Boulevard *are* classics), so it never appealed to me that much.

    The future as dark and dirty and unpleasant, with few redeeming qualities, isn't my own vision of humanity's future (as suggested above).

    Oh, and, while one can certainly like Sean Young at her best, let us not forget Daryl Hannah had an even bigger (timewise), though "less key", role in the movie. She was as hot a blonde as Young was a brunette, and that movie was shot when she was at her own best (which was far longer than Young's) which ran from 1982 to about 1987.

  5. IGotBupkis, Legally Defined Cyberbully in All 57 States:

    What's interesting to me about Dick is that he's the most successful SF author of all time, in terms of movies made from his stuff... and he was never all that popular or successful an author.

    Major movies based on Dick's work:
    2011 The Adjustment Bureau -- short story "Adjustment Team"

    2007 Next -- novel "The Golden Man"

    2006 A Scanner Darkly -- novel "A Scanner Darkly"

    2003 Paycheck -- short story

    2002 Minority Report -- short story

    1990 Total Recall -- story "We Can Remember It For You Wholesale"

    1982 Blade Runner -- novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"


    And they're remaking Total Recall. Not all the above movies have been/were exceptionally successful, but probably more than any other SF author, and I don't think any other SF author has had as many major, mainstream movies made from his work, either. Hollywood seems to love him.

  6. elambend:

    I thought it was awesome that he saw so quickly the enduring quality of the movie "Blade Runner" and what its effects would be.

    Yes, AGND is right, there are plenty of dystopian sci-fi movies from the late sixties and early seventies ("you finally did it! you blew it up!") But, there were very disaster oriented and in many ways cold war relics. "Blade Runner" was a return to Orwell's worries about the future and the place for the individual in it. (or so I think).

    As for Dick, I think he foresaw the growth of System-D co-tangent with technology.

  7. Dan Hill:

    I knew there was a reason I like you. Not only do you share my political philosophies, but your position on Blade Runner is 100% the same as mine (especially viz the voiceover - essential the the film noir feel).

    I've had arguments with people who didn't get the point of the movie - what is it that makes us human - and thought it was just gratuitous violence. I just don't know how you can watch it and not realise that's the point.

    It is one of the rare examples of the movie being a big improvement on the book.

  8. gb:

    Was around twelve when the movie came out. Me and a buddy had to buy tickets for and sit through the first few minutes of Bambi before switching theatres.

  9. Guy:

    The director's cut is actually the original cut of the movie. I saw it at a sneak preview in Dallas and loved it. Most of the audience walked out somberly at the end, hence the added voiceover and quasi-happy ending added later.

  10. eddie:

    "nowadays fan argue endlessly of the merits of the original release vs. the directors cut"

    We do?

    I'd have thought by now the obvious superiority of the director's cut was universally acknowledged. :)

  11. DensityDuck:

    Personally I prefer the Final Cut edition, where the credits roll just after the elevator door closes, sparing us the sight of Harrison Ford giving Sean Young a look like she'd just cut a gigantic fart.


    Anyone who likes this movie at all should watch the "Dangerous Days" documentary, to hear the original voiceover where Harrison Ford was excited to work on such an interesting project. In fact, he sounds about like Dick did. It was only later when the voiceover got the sardonic "eff you" tone.