Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Prescient.

It occurred to me that I haven't written a post regarding Blade Runner in quite some time, which of course makes me feel terribly guilty. I mean after all, the theme of this blog is based on the movie, so one would think that I could come up with some sort of BR reference from time-to-time? So, to satisfy this lag in theme coverage, I went and watched it again, and still marvel at the things I rediscover, and discover for the first time on every viewing.

Ridley Scott's masterpiece of a movie is incredibly layered. Sometimes, the only way to try and catch everything is to pause at certain points and go through a scene frame-by-frame. It's just amazing the things you pick up when you do this. One of my favorite moments is when Deckard is chasing Zhora through the streets, and he starts shooting at her by the glass displays. The second time she's hit in the back, if you pause and look very astutely at her right hand you can see the squib (explosive effect device) trigger, and see her let it go after she squeezes it.

The "Final Cut" edition of the movie comes with "Dangerous Days - The Making Of Blade Runner," and is a must for any true fan. It's also great for any aspiring filmmaker, as it gives an inside scoop as to what it takes to mount such a movie as this. Did you know that:

- The original name of the script was "Dangerous Days?"
- The first time Deckard was supposed to be seen was on a train coming back into "San Angeles." after he was vacationing in Alaska? (1980 script draft)
- One of the scenes cut from the movie was Deckard going to visit Holden in his hospital bed after he was shot by Leon?
- Ridley Scott was fired from the movie after principal filming was finished - and then rehired almost immediately?
-Dustin Hoffman was in consideration for the role of Deckard, and had several conversations with Ridley Scott about the 'social significance" of the film.

The other thing that struck me today was this: Blade Runner takes place in 2019, and here we are, just nine years from that time. What does the movie show that even remotely resembles today? Well, there are a few things that ring true, but replicants and robot technology is certainly not one of them.

1. Oppressive corporate culture - The Tyrell Corporation, the multi-national robotic and AI conglomerate is in evidence everywhere in the Blade Runner World. It's a bit of Wal-Mart, Google, and Cisco all rolled into one giant company. About the only thing that comes close in our world might be Microsoft, and the way it has invaded so many aspects of our world here in 2010. Wouldn't it be something though if one of Bill Gates' creations suddenly showed up at his house, and declared in a solemn voice, "I want more life, father."

2. Flying cars. -
Sorry, a no-go. The Spinner, the multi-purpose police car that can either fly, or be a conventional ground vehicle is not on the horizon. It's original design as conceived by visual futurist Syd Mead was that of an aerodyne - a vehicle that can do vertical take off's and landing's (VTOL) much in the way a Harrier jump jet does. Considering the latest brouhaha surrounding Toyota, and now Honda as well, I don't think I'd like having cars zipping over major cities and then having a major engine failure. And you thought an uncontrolled acceleration was tough?

3. Image manipulation - Ah, now here's something that we can point to and say, "Well we pretty much have that!"

When Deckard is examining Leon's photo for clues, he uses a device known as an "ESPER:"
It's defined as: " A high-density computer with a very powerful three-dimensional resolution capacity and a cryogenic cooling system. The police cars and Deckard's apartment contain small models which can be channelled into the large one at police headquarters. This big apparatus is a well-worn, retro-fitted part of the furniture. Among many functions, the Esper can analyze and enlarge photos, enabling investigators to search a room without being there."

While computers today may not have quite the same capacity as an Esper, it's pretty darn close. The next time you use your computers photo downloading software, or a program like Photoshop, you're pretty close to having the kind of funtionality that Esper's do - though seeing around corners as reflected in mirrors is probably not one of them.

4. Mult-cultural/nationality cities - Score another one for accuracy. It used to be that only the truly big cities in this country- NYC, LA, Chicago - could say they were truly multicultural. Nowadays, both big and small cities are reflective of this, and one only need to go into the downtown area of a city and see this played out everyday. In the BR world, it's the population overload that's also a factor, and this is nothing new, and even more prevalent in places like China, India, and Brazil.

5. Advertising on steroids. If you've seen the movie, you'll remember these:


I think that BR was even somewhat mild in it's vision of corporate advertising on buildings and the like. One only need to go to Times Square, or as some have pointed out, the Ginza in Tokyo, or the main shopping district in Hong Kong to see just how much this goes beyond even what BR predicted.

5. TV phones -
Remember those ads from the late 50's and 60's about phones with televisions in them, so that you could see the person you are talking to? Well, certainly camera cell phones have fulfilled that promise, but I think that even more so are webcams, especially when you're using programs like Skype, Googletalk, etc. Teleconferencing is now commonplace, though the public video phone is still not there - or is it, somewhere? Still, if you notice in the pic above, AT&T is still around, and still charging too much money (This call cost Deckard $1.25 for a 1 minute call.).

One has to wonder what is around the corner for us, and what parts of Blade Runner will come true prior to 2019? Let's hope it's not replicants. I want to be able to distinguish my robots from my humans easily.

4 comments:

Wafa' said...

hmmmm, i just realized that i have not seen in the movie before !!!
i better look for that one.

Lukas Mariman said...

You've done a man's job, sir!

Jay said...

I'm sorry to admit I'm not a fan of the movie, but it is fascinating to compare our technology with the technology featured in it. As you say, only a few years into the future...

Me, I'd like a flying car! But I can probably do without replicants, unless they can do me a Data!

Mr. Nighttime said...

Wafa - It was a groundbreaking film, but make sure you get the "Final Cut" version

Lukas - I blame you! ;-)

Jay- Did I read that right? You want Data to do you? Kinky! ;-)