Sunday 1 May 2016

Not Blade Runner Trivia

Blade Runner

As a Blade Runner fan who talks about their affection for Blade Runner in the public arena, I am subject to people telling me Blade Runner trivia in order to gauge the limits of the information I have consumed about the film.

This is fun. I enjoy this. Sometimes there are things that other people have to share that are interesting, unknown to me, and actually true. It is a thing of joy.

The interesting part is a given, because it is about Blade Runner. That is causation. The unknown thing is less common, because I'm across it more than most people. This doesn't bother me. I really like talking about my favourite film. You had me at 'Bl'.

Actually, there are probably a lot of films that start with 'bl'. 'Blade' is probably also not enough, because, you know, Blade and the other ones of those that they made.

You had me at Blade Runner.

The last one is a bit of a weird one, because it isn't something that I can often verify while I'm standing there talking to you while you tell me these things. Sometimes, I know enough about what you're talking about to make a judgement call, but more often than not I will go and investigate it in the afterwards time.

However, there are some quite common bits of Blade Runner 'trivia' that are not in fact trivia. And they're super common. They get told to me a lot. And they all sort of come from a similar place, and concern the source materials of the film.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?The first that I'm going to do you for is some combination of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the book on which the film is based) being: A short story; having not enough of a plot to make into a film; and having only a very vague relation to the film.

The novel (which it is) is 244 pages, and the plot of the film is an abridged version of one side of the narrative of the book. Even without touching on the whole digital Jesus preserved as an MMO plot, there are still a great number of major plot elements that happen in the sanctioned android bounty hunter plot that the film simply doesn't have time for.

If you really break down the film, there isn't a lot of plot. A great majority of the film is exposition stacked side by side as they wind through the climax of a much longer story that took place before the film even started. If Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was much emptier than that, Deckard would get some noodles with Batty who'd explain everything that happened prior to their White Dragon dinner date before Deckard shoots him over who gets the last giant, mutant prawn.

The next one is that the title, Blade Runner, is taken from William Gibson's Neuromancer. It isn't. It doesn't even appear in the book. You wan't a citation? How about, on page never the term 'blade runner' appears zero times in quick succession. Fuck you! Never mind that the book was first published in 1984, two years after the film was first released in cinemas. Yeah!

Before I explain where it actually came from, I'm going to put up my last bit of anti-trivia for this session, because I'm going to kill two synthetic birds with one electric stone.

William S. Burroughs, being the other great literary William in my life, did not write the first draft of the script for Blade Runner. I'm not going to lie, I've been so excited by that nugget in the past that I think I've actually promoted it in words on the internet. It might be out there right now. I'm not looking. Admitting failure is one thing, googling it is another.

This didn't happen.

You ready for that stone.

The Bladerunner
It is well documented that the title was licensed from a treatment called Blade Runner (later published as Blade Runner (a movie), which was written by the above mentioned William S. Burroughs, but instead of being based on Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? it's based on The Bladerunner by Alan E. Nourse, which is about a medical black marketeer, and was written in 1974. This is noted within the credits of the actual film!

Boom! Birds murdered!

I recommend Nourse's The Bladerunner and Burroughs' Blade Runner, but they're very much in my wheelhouse.

Look at that cover over there. It's fucking beautiful.

I don't hate when people tell me this stuff, but I hate when they argue relentlessly citing non-primary sources. Don't tell me the contents of a book you've never read, when I've read it a dozen times. Don't do that. At that stage I don't really care what your source is. I've read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I know full well what lies therein. You want to tell me about different contextual readings that you've read about without having read the actual book? Let's do that. That is interesting. I'm down.

The first person to tell me about watching Alien 3: The Assembly Cut within a feminist context had never seen any of the Alien films, and you know what, it's a game changer.

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