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Blade Runner - Background and Context

Blade Runner, an adaptation of Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was commissioned by Hollywood in the early 1980’s.  Ridley Scott had many conflicts with the producers and felt he was compromising his integrity.   The film was not a box office success and so eventually Scott released his own version, a director’s cut on DVD in 1992.  This director’s cut received acclaim from his followers and has gained the stature of a cult classic with great financial success and a dedicated following.

Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, the film has survived close scrutiny and is considered one of the most effective futuristic cautionary visionary statements of the past fifty years.  As a dystopia (dark future) it uses the cinematic techniques of film noir that tends to distance us from the characters and actions.  We become deeply disturbed both emotionally and rationally at what our future could become unless we are prepared to curb our excessive technological advances and our conspicuous consumption of unnecessary goods. 

There is considerable evidence that Scott was also influenced by the notable Science Fiction writer, Issac Azimov. 

While there have been writers in earlier times who were concerned about the environment , nature was considered resilient and indomitable.   Ridley Scott  is showing great prescience or foresight when he warns us about the long term effects of pollution and environmental degradation. 

It was only after the publication of  Rachel Carson’s (An American writer and scientist) Silent Spring,  that people began to recognise the potential of human disaster through the vandalism  perpetrated by  improved technology.  Rather than resilient, nature was fragile and vulnerable when fundamental natural rhythms were ceaselessly  destroyed by ruthless exploitation by ever increasing mammoth technology.  If Ecosystems are repeatedly defeated, human life will be diminished and likely extinguished.

As a Canadian Indian Chief queried; “When we kill the last fish, what will we eat – money?

Man has not only subdued the earth but conquered and utterly defeated it.  There is no real attempt to replenish it, thus the need for off world colonies.  The opening scenes are nightmarish – a nuclear winter.

This is a timely cautionary tale that should not go unheeded.


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