Philip K. Dick Previews Blade Runner: “The Impact of the Film is Going to be Overwhelming” (1981)

PKD Blade Runner

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Last week we featured studio-executive notes on Blade Runner. “This movie gets worse every screening,” they said. “Deadly dull,”  they said. “More tits,” they said. These remarks now offer something in the way of irony and entertainment, but they only give even the most avid Blade Runner enthusiast so much to think about. For a more interesting reaction, and certainly a more articulate one, we should turn to Philip K. Dick, the prolific writer of psychologically inventive science fiction whose Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? provided Blade Runner‘s source material. Dick, alas, would not live to see the film open in theaters, much less ascend to the top of the canon of sci-fi cinema decades later, but he did get a good look, before moving on to other realms, at the script and some of the footage. With just those, he managed to outguess everyone — audiences, critics, and especially studio executives — about the film’s fate.

“This indeed is not science fiction,” Dick wrote in a letter available on his official site. “It is not fantasy; it is exactly what [star] Harrison [Ford] said: futurism. The impact of Blade Runner is simply going to be overwhelming, both on the public and on creative people — and, I believe, on science fiction as a field. [ … ] Nothing we have done, individually or collectively, matches Blade Runner. This is not escapism; it is super realism, so gritty and detailed and authentic and goddam convincing that, well, after the segment I found my normal present-day ‘reality’ pallid by comparison.” 32 years on, many of us frequent Blade Runner-watchers feel just the same way, and Dick wrote that after catching nothing more than a segment about the picture on the news. “It was my own interior world,” he later told interview John Boonstra. “They caught it perfectly.” And, at this point, all of our interior worlds look a little more Blade Runner-esque.

H/T to Marianne for the lead on the PKD letter.

Related Content:

Blade Runner: The Pillar of Sci-Fi Cinema that Siskel, Ebert, and Studio Execs Originally Hated

The Making of Blade Runner

The Blade Runner Sketchbook: The Original Art of Syd Mead and Ridley Scott Online

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture and writes essays on literature, film, cities, Asia, and aesthetics. He’s at work on a book about Los AngelesA Los Angeles Primer. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall.

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  • PKD was pleased as you say with his viewing of the uncut footage of Scott’s work. However, as noted by the editors of DIck’s “Exegesis of Philip K. Dick” …”Left on the cutting room floor was the novel’s fictional religion, “Mercerism” whose adherents technologically and empathically merge with Wilbur Mercer as he climbs a hill, is stoned to death, descends into a tomb world, and arises, in an endless cycle.”

  • Con ate dog says:

    Of everyone I’ve ever asked, this is the most quoted as Best Movie Ever.

    It’s clearly the most heartbreaking ever.

  • ubikchip says:

    greatest film ever made

  • ultramanjones says:

    By miles and miles. No matter what movie is named the next best, they are all mere entertainment, morality tales, or “inspirational” stories of hope, bla bla bla. Blade Runner is paralyzing in its relentlessly honest penetration into the true reality of our inner thoughts and fears, not some dilerious surrender into the denial of tonics and balms like ALL the rest, whose entire messages dissolve into platitudes or advice: “there’s always hope!”, “Revel in your vices”, “have faith!”, “Be strong like our hero!”, “Love will find a way”, “it’s a wonderful life!”, “Never give up!”, “The truth will set you free”, etc… ad nauseum. Unlike all the others, when it comes to humanity, Blade Runner just plain REAL. It is Roy Batty alone and dying, crying,”Pris!?…” AND it is an absolute masterpiece of cinema; a PERFECT blend of visuals, style, tone, sound, music, pacing, hypnotism, beauty, ugliness, thought invitation, and magnificence. Add to that the brilliant casting and myriad of career pinnacle acting performances, the incredible art, the unparalleled special effects presentation, and finally the VISION of what we all know, whether we like it or not, IS our future. There is no comparison. There is no “close” second runner up. Blade Runner is the GOAT, the lifetime supply of GOAT milk, AND a GOAT kick in the face to wake you from your fantasies and snap you back to reality. Enjoy.

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