Philip K. Dick on Blade Runner

"I came to the conclusion that this is not science fiction; this is not fantasy, it is exactly what Harrison said: futurism" [ via Frankie Boyle]


  1. Wow.  That letter is really REALLY nice of him.

    I mean, I agree, but rarely do you see an author state that, essentially, someone took their work and made it much better as a derivative.

    “My life and work are justified and completed by Blade Runner. Thank you…”

    I mean, that’s some big props there

    1. You’re right, all too rare.  Here’s another fine example though:

      Now that I see the movie, especially when I sat down with Jim Uhls and record a commentary track for the DVD, I was sort of embarrassed of the book, because the movie had streamlined the plot and made it so much more effective and made connections that I had never thought to make.

      -Palahniuk on the Fight Club movie.

    2. I’m a big fan of Blade Runner and I still think that DADOES adds a lot of back story and over all PKD crazyness and paranoia that the movie lacks. I was as amazed by the book as I was by the movie.

  2. I wonder if he was disappointed in the initial reception. It certainly wasn’t “invincible” or “one hell of a commercial success”. 

    1. He didn’t live to see the awful mangling of the original cut.
      He did, however, see an early fx reel and by all accounts, was flabbergasted.

      1. The fx in that film are seamless and have that inimitable physical presence. Then when you add the texture and soul, such as the Japanese Coca-Cola billboard, those fx still dazzle today.

        Good for Philip that he saw it!  His material treated with love and the utmost artistry and intensity, a spectacular and bittersweet coda for the saga that was his life.

        Remember that this was still the era of “The Great American Film”, and Blade Runner fits in there, more than it does with the current summer blockbuster genre.

      2. As opposed to the awful mangling of the Director’s Cut?

        Ridley Scott  may have artistic vision but the director’s cut of Blade Runner is the equivalent of jamming a square peg into a round hole. Those who say it works do so only because of their familiarity with the source material.

        Scott’s  gutting of the film’s narration – narration essential to establishing vital background information and plot development – is nothing short of historical revisionism by trying to frame Blade Runner as some Euro-style avante-garde art house film.

        Blade Runner was filmed and conceived as a futuristic film noir detective story; this is evidenced by the structure of the plot, the characters, setting and the artistic design of the film.

        Moreover, the Director’s Cut causes more problems than it fixes – creating plot holes thanks to the absence of the narration – not to mention – thematically, the confirmation of Deckard’s status as a replicant, which itself is a plot hole (i.e., the missing replicant in Bryant’s scene) makes the story weaker; the film is more powerful if this is left open to interpretation.

        The happy ending notwithstanding – something I’m willing to overlook – the theatrical cut is excellent; it is this version of the film that made it the classic that it is, *not* the Director’s Cut.

        1.  in ter esting. you know enough that you should know you don’t know enough. and yet, you don’t.
          how did you feel about 2001?
          also. source material. I laughed.

        2.  I agree wholeheartedly with you.  Removing the narration made the film comprehensible only to those who are intimately familiar with the source material.   This holds especially true for the death scene on the roof of the Bradbury building.  Without the narration, the viewer would be totally at sea trying to figure out why Batty saved Deckard’s life when he had been trying  to kill him in self defense.  That still remains Rutger Hauer’s finest moment, a fact that he himself has acknowledged.   Removing the narration was Scott trying to turn it into a film noire art piece and failing miserably.

      1.  I have a big book of his short stories.  He predicted noise cancellation technology in the 50’s.  I know what you mean by dull, though; very dry, stuffy prose.

        1.  I initially read that as “nose cancellation technology”, and immediately began wondering what applications that would have that didn’t involve evil wizards.

  3. What interests me about the translation is that Scott (or the screenwriters) basically turn the story to come to exactly the opposite philosophical conclusion of the original.

    The best part, to me, is that both answers have a facinating and valuable truth to them.

  4. I also see a lot of futurism in Star Trek, especially DS9.  Especially the two part episode Past Tense, where in 2024 America has rampant unemployment and cities have isolated those who don’t have jobs or places to live.  It was a little chilling to think you know we really aren’t that far away from 2024 or the conditions that could make that a reality.

  5. I just watched Blade Runner the other day (again). The pacing is a bit slow – but it really does hold up really well to age. Great film!

  6. When I first saw Blade Runner I thought that while it looked gorgeous, it rang a bit hollow. Little did I know of the reverberations that had just been set loose in my psyche…..

    1. Just the look?  That soundtrack is Vangelis’ finest moment, then add faint echoes of patchinko wafting through the air, the invisible overhead megaphone announcing who-knows-what in some sort of Asiatic Esperanto… my God.

      1. queue up the album for going to sleep.
        If you aren’t drifting among pink velveteen clouds, overlooking an ancient Persian landscape within thirty minutes, I hear you can ask for your money back.

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