“I think if I’m going to do a science fiction, I’m going to go down a new path that I want to do.”
– Ridley Scott
Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner is widely regarded as one of the best works of its genre. Loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, it is hard to overstate the massive influence of Blade Runner on contemporary science fiction works. A startlingly prescient work which asks important questions about human identity in an increasingly technological word, Blade Runner has become a cult classic because of its stunning dystopian vision and cyberpunk aesthetics.
Speaking about the setting of Blade Runner, Scott said, “We’re in a city which is in a state of overkill, of snarled-up energy, where you can no longer remove a building because it costs far more than constructing one in its place. So the whole economic process is slowed down.”
He also commented on the population and how the “punk” citizens contributed to the film, “The glimpses you get of them on the street are great because they’re desaturated – not full-blown punks, just odd people on the street. Because things will fade. That characterisation will fade and something else will take its place. But there may be vestiges or remnants of punk.”
While the film initially split its audience with polarising reviews upon its release, Blade Runner‘s legacy grew in the years that followed and the film’s cult following rounded and heavily praised its complex and intensely well-considered visuals. Written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, Blade Runner managed to secure a high-profile cast which included the likes of Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer and Sean Young as the story explores the severe effects of technology can have on the environment and society.
For Scott, the film offered him the chance to channel the pain he was feeling following the death of his brother and, in an interview with the Observer, described the film as “extremely dark, both literally and metaphorically, with an oddly masochistic feel”. More specifically, Scott said that he “liked the idea of exploring pain” after his sibling passed away. “When he was ill, I used to go and visit him in London, and that was really traumatic for me,” he added.
Before the film’s release in 1982, a short behind-the-scenes promo was played at science fiction conventions. Made by M. K. Productions, the 16mm short reel featured interviews with Ridley Scott, Syd Mead and Douglas Trumbull about making the acclaimed Blade Runner universe.
Watch the Blade Runner 1982 convention reel, below.