Jared Leto Stars in a New Prequel to Blade Runner 2049: Watch It Free Online

Blade Runner, as anyone who's seen so much as its first shot knows, takes place in the Los Angeles of November 2019. Though the film flopped when it came out in 1982, the acclaim and fans it has drawn with each of the 35 years that have passed since didn't take long to reach the kind of critical mass that demands a sequel. After numerous rumors and false starts, the October release of Blade Runner 2049, produced by Blade Runner director Ridley Scott and directed by Arrival director Denis Villeneuve, now fast approaches. The new movie's promotional push, which has so far included trailers and making-of featurettes, has now begun to tell us what happened between 2019 and 2049.

"I decided to ask a couple of artists that I respect to create three short stories that dramatize some key events that occurred after 2019, when the first Blade Runner takes place, but before 2049, when my new Blade Runner story begins," says Villeneuve in his introduction to the brand new short above.

Taking place in the Los Angeles of 2036, the Luke Scott-directed piece "revolves around Jared Leto’s character, Niander Wallace," writes Collider's Adam Chitwood, who "introduces a new line of 'perfected' replicants called the Nexus 9, seeking to get the prohibition on replicants repealed," the government having shut replicant production down thirteen years before due to a devastating electromagnetic pulse attack for which replicants took the blame.

A timeline appeared at Comic-Con this past summer covering the events of the thirty years between Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049, though in very broad strokes: in 2020 "the Tyrell Corporation introduces a new replicant model, the Nexus 8S, which has extended lifespans," in 2025 "a new company, Wallace Corp., solves the global food shortage and becomes a massive super power," in 2049 "life on Earth has reached its limit and society divides between Replicant and human." The two other short films to come should just about tide over fans until the release of Blade Runner 2049 — not that those who've been waiting for a new Blade Runner movie since the 1980s can't handle another month.

The short Blade Runner 2049 prequel, entitled "Nexus: 2036," will be added to our list, 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Métal hurlant: The Hugely Influential French Comic Magazine That Put Moebius on the Map & Changed Sci-Fi Forever

Would you believe that one particular publication inspired a range of visionary creators including Ridley Scott, George Lucas, Luc Besson, William Gibson, and Hayao Miyazaki? Moreover, would you believe that it was French, from the 1970s, and a comic book? Not that that term "comic book" does justice to Métal hurlant, which during its initial run from 1974 to 1987 not only redefined the possibilities of the medium and greatly widened the imaginative possibilities of science fiction storytelling, but brought to prominence a number of wholly unconventional and highly influential artists, chief among them Jean Giraud, best known as Moebius.

Métal hurlant, according to Tom Lennon in his history of the magazine, launched "as the flagship title of Les Humanoïdes Associés, a French publishing venture set up by Euro comic veterans Moebius, Druillet and Jean-Pierre Dionnet, together with their finance director Bernard Farkas. Influenced by both the American underground comix scene of the 1960s and the political and cultural upheavals of that decade, their goal was bold and grandiose: they were going to kick ass, take names, and make people take comics seriously."

This demanded "artistic innovation at every level," from high-quality, large-format paper stock to risk-taking storytelling "shot through with a rich vein of humour and delivered with a narrative sophistication previously unseen in the medium."

Giraud took to the possibilities of the new publication with a special avidness. Under the pen name "Gir," writes Lennon, he "was best known as the co-creator of the popular Western series, Blueberry. By the mid-1970s, Giraud was feeling increasingly constrained by the conventions of the western genre, so decided to revive a long-dormant pseudonym to embark on more experimental work. As ‘Moebius’, Giraud not only worked in a different genre to ‘Gir’ – a deeply personal, highly idiosyncratic form of science fiction and fantasy – but his art looked like it was drawn by a completely different person," and "unlike anything that had been seen in comics — or, for that matter, in any other medium."

Métal hurlant saw the debuts of two of Moebius’ best-known characters: the pith-helmeted and mustachioed protector of miniature universes Major Grubert and the silent, pterodactyl-riding explorer Arzach, who bears a certain resemblance to the protagonist of Miyazaki's 1984 film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. Read through the back issues of the magazine — or its 40-years-running American version, Heavy Metal — and you'll also glimpse, in the work of Moebius and others, elements that would later find their way into the worlds of NeuromancerMad MaxAlienBlade RunnerStar Wars, and much more besides.

“A while ago, SF was filled with monstrous rocket ships and planets,” said Moebius in 1980. "It was a naive and materialistic vision, which confused external space with internal space, which saw the future as an extrapolation of the present. It was a victim of an illusion of a technological sort, of a progression without stopping towards a consummation of energy." He and Métal hurlant did more than their part to transform and enrich that vision, but plenty of old perceptions still remain for their countless artistic descendants to warp beyond recognition.

via Tom Lennon/Dazed Digital

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

H.R. Giger’s Tarot Cards: The Swiss Artist, Famous for His Design Work on Alien, Takes a Journey into the Occult

The first tarot cards appeared in Europe in the mid-fifteenth century, and those who used them used to play simple card games. But as the art of the tarot deck developed to incorporate a host of historical, philosophical, and astronomical symbols, their imagery took on more weight, and a couple hundred years later the cards had become popular instruments of divination. From the late eighteenth century on, one could obtain tarot decks specifically designed for occult purposes, and their artistic variety has only expanded in the 250 or so years since. In the 1990s, the imaginative world of tarot collided with an equally rich set of visions: those of H.R. Giger.

Giger, a Swiss artist who first gained worldwide fame and influence with his design work on Ridley Scott's Alien (up to and including the terrifying alien itself), united the biological and the mechanical in a distinctive and disturbing fashion.

After seeing Giger's art in his first book of paintings Necronomicon, a Swiss occultist by the name of Akron understood its potential as tarot imagery. The collection's title picture, Akron writes, showed a "fascinating monster" called Baphomet, "the symbol of the connection between the rational and irrational world," the same function performed by the occult tarot deck itself.

When Akron approached Giger proposing to collaborate on a deck, according to i09's Lauren Davis, "Giger felt that he didn't have the time to create new works that would do the deck justice. So he selected 22 of his existing, previously unpublished pieces" for the cards' faces. In a later interview, "Giger says that he never studied Tarot cards and in fact, had no interest in having his fortune told with them. (Giger claimed he was too superstitious, though he describes Akron's descriptions of the individual cards as 'sometimes crazy, but funny — but not probably very serious.')" His "mix of occult iconography, demonic organisms, and his trademark biomechanical aesthetic make for apt, if unusually dark Tarot illustrations."

You can see more of Giger and Akron's tarot deck, available in both English and German, at i09 and Dangerous Minds. Or better yet, pick up your own deck of cards. While browsing, do keep in mind two things: first, that Giger's visions, even those selected to represent age-old tarot arcana, can certainly get NSFW. Second, even though the artist specialized in nightmarish imagery (hence his popularity on the grimmer side of science fiction) we should resist interpreting them too literally as representations of the future. After all, the cards, as a much more lighthearted production once joked, are vague and mysterious.

via io9

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Enter a Huge Archive of Amazing Stories, the World’s First Science Fiction Magazine, Launched in 1926

If you haven’t heard of Hugo Gernsback, you’ve surely heard of the Hugo Award. Next to the Nebula, it’s the most prestigious of science fiction prizes, bringing together in its ranks of winners such venerable authors as Ursula K. Le Guin, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Heinlein, Neil Gaiman, Isaac Asimov, and just about every other sci-fi and fantasy luminary you could think of. It is indeed fitting that such an honor should be named for Gernsback, the Luxembourgian-American inventor who, in April of 1926, began publishing “the first and longest-running English-language magazine dedicated to what was then not quite yet called ‘science fiction,’” notes University of Virginia’s Andrew Ferguson at The Pulp Magazines Project. Amazing Stories provided an “exclusive outlet” for what Gernsback first called “scientifiction,” a genre he would “for better and for worse, define for the modern era.” You can read and download hundreds of Amazing Stories issues, from the first year of its publication to the last, at the Internet Archive.

Like the extensive list of Hugo Award winners, the back catalog of Amazing Stories encompasses a host of geniuses: Le Guin, Asimov, H.G. Wells, Philip K. Dick, J.G. Ballard, and many hundreds of lesser-known writers. But the magazine “was slow to develop,” writes Scott Van Wynsberghe. Its lurid covers lured some readers in, but its "first two years were dominated by preprinted material,” and Gernsback developed a reputation for financial dodginess and for not paying his writers well or at all.

By 1929, he sold the magazine and moved on to other ventures, none of them particularly successful. Amazing Stories soldiered on, under a series of editors and with widely varying readerships until it finally succumbed in 2005, after almost eighty years of publication. But that is no small feat in such an often unpopular field, with a publication, writes Ferguson, that was very often perceived as “garish and nonliterary.”

In hindsight, however, we can see Amazing Stories as a sci-fi time capsule and almost essential feature of the genre’s history, even if some of its content tended more toward the young adult adventure story than serious adult fiction. Its flashy covers set the bar for pulp magazines and comic books, especially in its run up to the fifties. After 1955, the year of the first Hugo Award, the magazine reached its peak under the editorship of Cele Goldsmith, who took over in 1959. Gone was much of the eyepopping B-movie imagery of the earlier covers. Amazing Stories acquired a new level of relative polish and sophistication, and published many more “literary” writers, as in the 1959 issue above, which featured a “Book-Length Novel by Robert Bloch.”

This trend continued into the seventies, as you can see in the issue above, with a “complete short novel by Gordon Eklund” (and early fiction by George R.R. Martin). In 1982, Ferguson writes, Amazing Stories was sold “to Gary Gygax of D&D fame, and would never again regain the prominence it had before.” The magazine largely returned to its pulp roots, with covers that resembled those of supermarket paperbacks. Great writers continued to appear, however. And the magazine remained an important source for new science fiction—though much of it only in hindsight. As for Gernsback, his reputation waned considerably after his death in 1967.

“Within a decade,” writes Van Wynsberghe, “science fiction pundits were debating whether or not he had created a ‘ghetto’ for hack writers.” In 1986, novelist Brian Aldiss called Gernsback “one of the worst disasters ever to hit the science fiction field.” His 1911 novel, the ludicrously named Ralph 124C 41+: A Romance of the Year 2660 is considered “one of the worst science fiction novels in history,” writes Matthew Lasar. It may seem odd that the Oscar of the sci-fi world should be named for such a reviled figure. And yet, despite his pronounced lack of literary ability, Gernsback was a visionary. As a futurist, he made some startlingly accurate predictions, along with some not-so-accurate ones. As for his significant contribution to a new form of writing, writes Lasar, “It was in Amazing Stories that Gernsback first tried to nail down the science fiction idea.” As Ray Bradbury supposedly said, “Gernsback made us fall in love with the future.” Enter the Amazing Stories Internet Archive here.

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness


Free: 355 Issues of Galaxy, the Groundbreaking 1950s Science Fiction Magazine

Along with Astounding Science Fiction and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Galaxy Magazine was one of the most important science fiction digests in 1950s America. Ray Bradbury wrote for it--including an early version of his masterpiece Fahrenheit 451--as did Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl, Theodore Sturgeon, Cordwainer Smith, Jack Vance, and numerous others.

Now a fairly decent collection of issues (355 in total) is available for your perusal at archive.org for absolutely free. It’s not complete yet, but it’s close.

When Galaxy appeared in October 1950, it promised a kind of science-fiction different from the space operas of previous decades. As an “annual report” written by publisher H.L. Gold proclaimed,

...other publishers thought the idea of offering mature science fiction in an attractive, adult format was downright funny. They knew what sold--shapely female endomorphs with bronze bras, embattled male mesomorphs clad in muscle, and frightful alien monsters in search of a human soul.

And while Astounding Science Fiction was focused on technology--suited for an America that had fundamentally changed since WWII--H.L. Gold’s Galaxy focused on ideas, humor, satire, psychology and sociology. It also had one of the best pay rates in the industry, and offered some of its writers exclusive contracts. And the writers responded in kind and followed their own obsessions--although Gold often pitched ideas.

(Ironically, though immersed in stories of inner and outer space, Gold was an acute agoraphobe, and stayed in his apartment, communicating by phone.)

After a wobbly start graphics-wise, Gold hired Ed Emshwiller in 1951 to paint covers, whose often humorous style (e.g. this Christmas issue below) suited the humor inside the issue.

Confident in their stable of writers, Galaxy produced the wonderful birthday cover at the top, featuring caricatures of everybody from Bradbury to Asimov. There’s also a guide to see who’s who.

A series of editors--including Frederik Pohl--took over from Gold after a car accident in 1961, and by 1977--eight years after Pohl's departure--the magazine was on its decline. There were more iterations, reprints, anthologies, and online versions, but the essential run is here. And those first ten years changed American science-fiction forever, paving the way for experimental writers like Philip K. Dick and William Gibson.

You could start with the Ray Bradbury story (“The Fireman”) we told you about, or Robert A. Heinlein’s “The Puppet Masters.”

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Sigourney Weaver Stars in a New Experimental Sci-Fi Film: Watch “Rakka” Free Online

South African–Canadian film director Neill Blomkamp recently launched Oats Studios, a new film project devoted to creating experimental short films. And now comes their very first production, a short film called "Rakka." Starring Sigourney Weaver, "Rakka" takes us inside the aftermath of an alien invasion sometime in the year 2020. The Verge rightly notes that "Rakka" isn’t "a conventional short film. Instead, it’s a series of scenes depicting various points of view. Some scenes show what the aliens are doing to humanity; others track a resistance movement led by Weaver, and an escaped prisoner named Amir." The new short runs 21 minutes and is streaming free on YouTube. " Watch it above, and to learn about the making of "Rakka" and Oats Studios, read this interview over at Cartoon Brew.

"Rakka" will be added to our collection: 1,150 Free Movies Online: Great Classics, Indies, Noir, Westerns, etc..

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Blade Runner 2049’s New Making-Of Featurette Gives You a Sneak Peek Inside the Long-Awaited Sequel

All of us who excitedly write about Blade Runner 2049, the upcoming sequel to Blade Runner, have at some point described the film as "long-awaited." Since the original came out in 1982, that makes a certain literal sense, but the wait hasn't stretched to 35 years without cause. As Blade Runner rose higher and higher in stature, following it up properly grew into a more and more daunting challenge. But now, as Blade Runner 2049 approaches its October release, the prospect that this most respected of all science-fiction movies will have its continuation feels more real than ever — and it will feel even more real than that after you watch the short making-of featurette above.

Philip K. Dick, the prolific author of Blade Runner's source material, a novel called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, recognized immediately how important the film would become. But its director Ridley Scott admits that he "could never have imagined how iconic it would still be" today.

Though he didn't return to direct Blade Runner 2049, ceding the chair to Sicario and Arrival director Denis Villeneuve and taking on the role of producer instead, he does make quite a few appearances in this featurette as a kind of presiding spirit. "Blade Runner revolutionized the way we view science fiction," says Villeneuve. "I've never felt that much pressure on my shoulders — thinking that Ridley Scott will see this movie."

But more than anything the cast and filmmakers have to say, Blade Runner fans will savor the video's glimpses of the new picture's aesthetic, clearly both modeled after and deliberately made different from that of the original. As the title makes obvious, the story takes place thirty years after Blade Runner's 2019, and just as things have changed in our world, so they've changed in its world — not least in the form of a Korean influence that has its found its way in with the Japanese and Chinese ones that so characterized Blade Runner's future Los Angeles. "Defining this was like walking on a knife's edge," says production designer Dennis Gassner, "riding the line between the original film and what we're doing now."

If you'd like to compare the build-up to Blade Runner 2049 with the build-up to Blade Runner, have a look at its own thirteen-minute promotional featurette above. Made well before the time of the modern internet, let alone modern internet videos, this 16-millimeter film production, which featured Scott, "visual futurist" Syd Mead, and special effects artist Douglas Trumbull, circulated by making the screening rounds sci-fi, fantasy, and even horror conventions all across America. Few movies, let alone sequels, have built up as much anticipation as Blade Runner 2049 has, and even fewer have such a legacy to live up to. At least the filmmakers can rest assured that, if the critics don't happen to like it, well, they didn't like the first one either.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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