How to Age Gracefully: No Matter What Your Age, You Can Get Life Advice from Your Elders

You can always learn some­thing from your elders. 8‑year-olds can learn from 9‑year-olds, just as octo­ge­nar­i­ans can learn from nona­ge­nar­i­ans. With age comes wis­dom. That’s the premise of this touch­ing, farewell video from the CBC’s Wire­Tap radio show, which is about to go off the air.

It’s not the first time we’ve explored this line of think­ing. For a lit­tle life per­spec­tive, we’d encour­age you to watch: Stephen Fry: What I Wish I Knew When I Was 18.

Or read: Stephen King Writes A Let­ter to His 16-Year-Old Self: “Stay Away from Recre­ation­al Drugs,” an excerpt from the anthol­o­gy, Dear Me: A Let­ter to My 16-Year-Old Self.

via Kot­tke

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Very Early Concert Footage of the B‑52s, When New Wave Music Was Actually New (1978)

I recall with unchar­ac­ter­is­tic clar­i­ty the first time I heard the B‑52s. Forced on a youth-group ski trip by my par­ents, I arrived an angry thir­teen-year-old wan­na-be punk: mohawk, ripped jeans, patched leather jack­et, dis­af­fect­ed scowl, and feigned air of ado­les­cent cyn­i­cal world-weari­ness. Pop music, I had already decid­ed, was for suck­ers. The only sounds that spoke to me were loud, abra­sive, and delib­er­ate­ly unlove­ly. Then some­one in our dorm put on “Rock Lob­ster” and it blew my nar­row mind. Though the osten­si­ble pur­pose of this church-spon­sored vaca­tion was to stir up some Protes­tant piety, I came away con­vert­ed instead to the gospel of new wave. I cred­it my awak­en­ing to Kate Pierson’s oth­er­world­ly wail, Cindy Wilson’s throaty har­monies, and Ricky Wilson’s bizarrely tuned gui­tar.

Maybe it wasn’t quite that dra­mat­ic, but it was a deci­sive moment in my young fan­dom, after which I found myself seek­ing out the odd, angu­lar, jan­g­ly sounds I’d first heard on that B‑52s record—and find­ing them in John­ny Marr’s Smiths gui­tar work, every ear­ly R.E.M. album, and in more morose form, in The Cure, Psy­che­del­ic Furs, and count­less mopey British post-punks. What sur­prised me at the time was learn­ing how many of these bands arrived on the scene at the same time as the nas­ti­er, grit­ti­er bands that scored my angst-rid­den entry into cal­low teenage-hood. We’re famil­iar with the sto­ry of new wave bands like Talk­ing Heads and Television’s begin­nings at CBGB’s. But around that same time, in 1976, Georgia’s B‑52s got their start in the col­lege town of Athens. As one inter­vie­wee says—in the above short doc­u­men­tary on the South­ern art-rock scene that also birthed R.E.M.—“the B‑52s start­ed the music scene as we think of it.”

Tak­ing their sound from surf rock, 50s doo-wop and girl group har­monies, and a weird­ness that is Athens’ own, the B‑52s carved out a space for them­selves with­in music that had some­thing in com­mon with the Ramones except it was hyper-col­or­ful, thrift-store kitschy, and unapolo­get­i­cal­ly campy. Their warped take on 50s and 60s dance rock—complete with Pier­son and Wilson’s “B‑52” bee­hives—first broke out with “Rock Lob­ster” (a song John Lennon once cred­it­ed with influ­enc­ing his come­back). You can see them open with the song at the top in 1978 at Atlanta’s Down­town Cafe, just pri­or to the release of their debut album. (Stick around to watch the rest of the 28-minute set.) Fred Schnei­der, the band’s wry, flam­boy­ant front­man, intro­duces each band mem­ber with a series of quirky pseu­do­nyms. Above, they do my per­son­al favorite, “52 Girls”—with its pound­ing tom-tom surf rhythms and sung-shout­ed lyrics about “The prin­ci­pal girls of the USA.” Just below catch anoth­er ear­ly gig from 1980, at New Jersey’s Capi­tol The­ater.

The B‑52s plugged along through the 80s—suffered the loss of Ricky Wil­son to AIDS—then hit it very big on the pop charts with “Love Shack” and “Roam” from 1989’s Cos­mic Thing. For my mon­ey, though, noth­ing beats the glo­ri­ous joy­ful­ness of their debut, which sounds like the most fun any band has ever had mak­ing a record togeth­er.

Though the band has always been a high­ly col­lab­o­ra­tive ensem­ble, Kate Pierson’s huge voice came to shape their sound over the years. She would go on to record the torch song “Can­dy” with Iggy Pop and the ridicu­lous, love-it-or-hate-it “Shiny Hap­py Peo­ple” with her home­town peers R.E.M. Now, at 67, she’s putting out her first solo album, Gui­tars and Micro­phones. Lis­ten to the super-catchy title track above, and hear an inter­view with Pier­son on NPR here and anoth­er on WBEZ’s Sound Opin­ions here. For more on the B‑52s ear­ly years, see ret­ro­spec­tives on Dan­ger­ous Minds and Pitch­fork. You owe it to your­self to get to know this band. They may not change your life like they did mine, but they might just expand your under­stand­ing of pop music’s pos­si­bil­i­ties.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch the Talk­ing Heads Play a Vin­tage Con­cert in Syra­cuse (1978)

The Ramones in Their Hey­day, Filmed “Live at CBGB,” 1977

Blondie Plays CBGB in the Mid-70s in Two Vin­tage Clips

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

The Evolution of Batman in Cinema: From 1939 to Present

Bob Kane cre­at­ed Bat­man in 1939 as a way to ful­fill the public’s need for more com­ic book super­heroes in the wake of Super­man. And, by 1943, Bat­man made his way from pulpy print to the screen for first time.

In this video trib­ute to the many looks of Bat­man through the ages, Jacob T. Swin­ney advances chrono­log­i­cal­ly, but also the­mat­i­cal­ly, focus­ing on the inter­play between Bat­man and his side­kick Robin; the fetishiza­tion of Batman’s tool belt; and the evo­lu­tion of his cos­tume from fab­ric (his clas­sic look up through the ’80s) to the BDSM-inspired rub­ber out­fits that have last­ed since Michael Keaton donned the sol­id black get-up through Chris­t­ian Bale’s inter­pre­ta­tion. (It does seem that Ben Affleck’s ver­sion will not devi­ate from this course, but add some armor. He will also con­tin­ue to perch on top of spires and tall build­ings and stand watch over the city.)

The oth­er evo­lu­tion worth notic­ing is in Batman’s voice, and what it says about America’s rela­tion­ship with author­i­ty. In the ear­ly seri­als up through Adam West’s icon­ic TV ver­sion, Bat­man speaks in clipped but enun­ci­at­ed tones, some­where in the region of news­cast­ers and G‑men. This con­nects Bat­man to the detec­tive part of his char­ac­ter and telegraphs his innate good­ness. But once Keaton takes on the role, Bat­man speaks in a low, grave­ly tone to suit his vig­i­lante ethos, designed for meet­ings in dark alleys. This is how we want our heroes now.

This “seri­ous” shift takes its cue from Frank Miller’s ground­break­ing The Dark Knight Returns com­ic book, which is ground zero for every super­hero film since that wears its grit­ty real­ism on its sleeve. This affect­ed speech reach­es its fair­ly ridicu­lous apoth­e­o­sis in Christo­pher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Ris­es, where both hero and vil­lain are incom­pre­hen­si­ble. The only thing left is par­o­dy, and that’s how we end this video, with Will Arnett’s voice ani­mat­ing the Lego Movie’s ver­sion of the super­hero: affect­ed, nar­cis­sis­tic, and believ­ing too much in his own myth.

Relat­ed con­tent:

Bat­man Stars in an Unusu­al Car­toon Adap­ta­tion of Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Pun­ish­ment

Slavoj Žižek’s Pervert’s Guide to Ide­ol­o­gy Decodes The Dark Knight and They Live

The Dark Knight: Anato­my of a Flawed Action Scene

Ted Mills is a free­lance writer on the arts who cur­rent­ly hosts the FunkZone Pod­cast. You can also fol­low him on Twit­ter at @tedmills, read his oth­er arts writ­ing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

The 1982 DC Comics Style Guide Is Online: A Blueprint for Superman, Batman & Your Other Favorite Superheroes

DC Style Guide 1

Even if you don’t like com­ic books, think of names like Super­man, Bat­man, and Won­der Woman, and you get a very clear men­tal pic­ture indeed. Clas­sic super­heroes live, breathe, bat­tle supervil­lians, and even die and return to life across decades upon decades of sto­ry­lines (and often more than one at once), but we all know them because, just like the most endur­ing cor­po­rate logos, they also stand as sur­pass­ing­ly effec­tive works of com­mer­cial art. But giv­en that count­less dif­fer­ent artists in var­i­ous media have had to ren­der these super­heroes over those decades, how have their images remained so utter­ly con­sis­tent?

DC Style Guide 2

That owes to doc­u­ments such as the 1982 DC Comics Style Guide, scanned and recent­ly post­ed to a Face­book group for fans of com­ic-book artist José Luis Gar­cía-López. Hav­ing spent most of his career with DC Comics, care­tak­er of Super­man, Bat­man, Won­der Woman, and many oth­er well-known and much-licensed heroes and vil­lains besides, Gar­cía-López sure­ly knows in his very bones the sort of details of cos­tume, physique, pos­ture, and bear­ing these style guides exist to con­vey.

DC Style Guide 3

Being 33 years old, this par­tic­u­lar style guide does­n’t per­fect­ly reflect the way all of DC’s super­heroes look today, what with the aes­thet­ic changes made to keep them hip year on year. But you’ll notice that, while fash­ions tend to have their way with the more minor char­ac­ters (long­time DC fans espe­cial­ly lament the head­band and big hair this style guide inflict­ed upon Super­girl), the major ones still look, on the whole, pret­ty much the same. Sure, Super­man has the strength and the flight, Bat­man has the wealth and the vast armory of high-tech crime-fight­ing tools, and Won­der Woman can do pret­ty much any­thing, but all those abil­i­ties pale in com­par­i­son to the sheer pow­er of their design. You can flip through the rest of the Style Guide here.

dc style guide 5

 

(via Metafil­ter)

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Down­load Over 22,000 Gold­en & Sil­ver Age Com­ic Books from the Com­ic Book PlusArchive

Down­load 15,000+ Free Gold­en Age Comics from the Dig­i­tal Com­ic Muse­um

Kapow! Stan Lee Is Co-Teach­ing a Free Com­ic Book MOOC, and You Can Enroll for Free

Bat­man & Oth­er Super Friends Sit for 17th Cen­tu­ry Flem­ish Style Por­traits

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Watch The Half Hour Hegel: A Long, Guided Tour Through Hegel’s Phenomenology, Passage by Passage

Big books can be daunt­ing. Big, com­pli­cat­ed books can seem insur­mount­able, espe­cial­ly if you’re try­ing to read them on your own. How many of you have tried to read Joyce’s Ulysses’ and bailed out with­in 30 pages? Raise your hands. Well, per­haps you’ll be pleased to learn about Frank Delaney’s Re:Joyce pod­cast, which, since 2012, has been tak­ing lis­ten­ers on a slow walk through Joyce’s mas­ter­piece, some­times sen­tence by sen­tence. Episode 273 has just been post­ed, which fea­tures Delaney unpack­ing a scene in “Hades,” or what amounts to Chap­ter 6. By my count, Frank has only cov­ered about 15% of the book. So it’s hard­ly too late to jump in.

If you’re look­ing to work your way through anoth­er bear of a book, give Hegel’s Phe­nom­e­nol­o­gy of the Spir­it a try. Writ­ten in 1807, the Phe­nom­e­nol­o­gy had a pro­found effect on the devel­op­ment of Ger­man and West­ern phi­los­o­phy, and it’s a noto­ri­ous­ly dif­fi­cult read. That’s where the Youtube series “Half Hour Hegel” comes in handy. Cre­at­ed by Gre­go­ry Sadler, a philoso­pher by train­ing, the series fea­tures “25–35 minute YouTube videos lead­ing stu­dents through the entire text of G.W.F. Hegel’s Phe­nom­e­nol­o­gy of Spir­it, para­graph by para­graph, engag­ing in a close read­ing of the text with­out skip­ping any of the mate­r­i­al.”

You can find 67 videos so far (watch the playlist above), cov­er­ing 5 main por­tions of the text: the Pref­ace (lec­tures 1–31), the Intro­duc­tion (lec­tures 32–38), Sense-Cer­tain­ty (lec­tures 39–44), Per­cep­tion (lec­tures 45–51), and Force and the Under­stand­ing (lec­tures 52–65).”  By the end of the project, there will be rough­ly 300 videos in the series. You can keep tabs on the video playlist here. And you can sup­port Sadler’s work over on his Patre­on page.

Oth­er cours­es on Hegel can be found on our list of Free Online Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es, a sub­set of our meta col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon.

If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

An Ani­mat­ed Intro to G.W.F. Hegel, and Every­thing Else You Want­ed to Know About the Daunt­ing Ger­man Philoso­pher

How Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. Used Hegel, Kant & Niet­zsche to Over­turn Seg­re­ga­tion in Amer­i­ca

 

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Marilyn Monroe Recounts Her Harrowing Experience in a Psychiatric Ward in a 1961 Letter

Marilyn_Monroe_in_The_Misfits_trailer_2

By the end of 1960, Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe was com­ing apart.

She spent much of that year shoot­ing what would be her final com­plet­ed movie – The Mis­fits (see a still from the trail­er above). Arthur Miller penned the film, which is about a beau­ti­ful, frag­ile woman who falls in love with a much old­er man. The script was pret­ty clear­ly based on his own trou­bled mar­riage with Mon­roe. The pro­duc­tion was by all accounts spec­tac­u­lar­ly pun­ish­ing. Shot in the deserts of Neva­da, the tem­per­a­ture on set would reg­u­lar­ly climb north of 100 degrees. Direc­tor John Hus­ton spent much of the shoot rag­ing­ly drunk. Star Clark Gable dropped dead from a heart attack less than a week after pro­duc­tion wrapped. And Mon­roe watched as her hus­band, who was on set, fell in love with pho­tog­ra­ph­er Inge Morath. Nev­er one blessed with con­fi­dence or a thick skin, Mon­roe retreat­ed into a daze of pre­scrip­tion drugs. Mon­roe and Miller announced their divorce on Novem­ber 11, 1960.

A few months lat­er, the emo­tion­al­ly exhaust­ed movie star was com­mit­ted by her psy­cho­an­a­lyst Dr. Mar­i­anne Kris to the Payne Whit­ney Psy­chi­atric Clin­ic in New York. Mon­roe thought she was going in for a rest cure. Instead, she was escort­ed to a padded cell. The four days she spent in the psych ward proved to be among the most dis­tress­ing of her life.

In a riv­et­ing 6‑page let­ter to her oth­er shrink, Dr. Ralph Green­son, writ­ten soon after her release, she detailed her ter­ri­fy­ing expe­ri­ence.

There was no empa­thy at Payne-Whit­ney — it had a very bad effect — they asked me after putting me in a “cell” (I mean cement blocks and all) for very dis­turbed depressed patients (except I felt I was in some kind of prison for a crime I had­n’t com­mit­ted. The inhu­man­i­ty there I found archa­ic. They asked me why I was­n’t hap­py there (every­thing was under lock and key; things like elec­tric lights, dress­er draw­ers, bath­rooms, clos­ets, bars con­cealed on the win­dows — the doors have win­dows so patients can be vis­i­ble all the time, also, the vio­lence and mark­ings still remain on the walls from for­mer patients). I answered: “Well, I’d have to be nuts if I like it here.”

Mon­roe quick­ly became des­per­ate.

I sat on the bed try­ing to fig­ure if I was giv­en this sit­u­a­tion in an act­ing impro­vi­sa­tion what would I do. So I fig­ured, it’s a squeaky wheel that gets the grease. I admit it was a loud squeak but I got the idea from a movie I made once called “Don’t Both­er to Knock”. I picked up a light-weight chair and slammed it, and it was hard to do because I had nev­er bro­ken any­thing in my life — against the glass inten­tion­al­ly. It took a lot of bang­ing to get even a small piece of glass — so I went over with the glass con­cealed in my hand and sat qui­et­ly on the bed wait­ing for them to come in. They did, and I said to them “If you are going to treat me like a nut I’ll act like a nut”. I admit the next thing is corny but I real­ly did it in the movie except it was with a razor blade. I indi­cat­ed if they did­n’t let me out I would harm myself — the fur­thest thing from my mind at that moment since you know Dr. Green­son I’m an actress and would nev­er inten­tion­al­ly mark or mar myself. I’m just that vain.

Dur­ing her four days there, she was sub­ject­ed to forced baths and a com­plete loss of pri­va­cy and per­son­al free­dom. The more she sobbed and resist­ed, the more the doc­tors there thought she might actu­al­ly be psy­chot­ic. Monroe’s sec­ond hus­band, Joe DiMag­gio, res­cued her by get­ting her released ear­ly, over the objec­tions of the staff.

You can read the full let­ter (where she also talks about read­ing the let­ters of Sig­mund Freud) over at Let­ters of Note. And while there, make sure you pick up a copy of the very ele­gant Let­ters of Note book.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The 430 Books in Mar­i­lyn Monroe’s Library: How Many Have You Read?

Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe Reads Joyce’s Ulysses at the Play­ground (1955)

Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe Reads Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (1952)

Mar­i­lyn Mon­roe Explains Rel­a­tiv­i­ty to Albert Ein­stein (in a Nico­las Roeg Movie)

Jonathan Crow is a Los Ange­les-based writer and film­mak­er whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hol­ly­wood Reporter, and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions. You can fol­low him at @jonccrow. And check out his blog Veep­to­pus, fea­tur­ing lots of pic­tures of vice pres­i­dents with octo­pus­es on their heads.  The Veep­to­pus store is here.

Hear Kurt Vonnegut Read Slaughterhouse-Five, Cat’s Cradle & Other Novels

vonnegut reads 3

Many of us grade the books we read, but Kurt Von­negut grad­ed the books he wrote. Let­ters of Note once tweet­ed out a list of the thir­teen grades he applied to thir­teen of his nov­els, pref­aced with his dis­claimer that “the grades I hand out to myself do not place me in lit­er­ary his­to­ry. I am com­par­ing myself with myself.” With that out of the way, he gives 1969’s Slaugh­ter­house-Five, his sixth nov­el and best-known work, an A‑plus, and puts his fourth nov­el, Cat’s Cra­dle from 1963, in the very same league.

But you don’t have to take Vonnegut’s word for it. You can, of course, read these books your­self — or you can hear them read aloud, at least in abridged ver­sions, for free on Spo­ti­fy. What’s more, you can hear Von­negut, clear­ly not a man to dis­tance him­self from his fin­ished work, read them aloud in his own voice. The record­ings come from the label Caed­mon, pio­neers of the vinyl-album pro­to-audio­book begin­ning in the 1950s with a record of Dylan Thomas read­ing his poet­ry. Their Von­negut-read­ing-Von­negut releas­es came out through the 1970s.

You might as well begin by lis­ten­ing to the read­ings of Cat’s Cra­dle and Slaugh­ter­house-Five, Vonnegut’s “A‑plus” books. They also put out audio ver­sions of Wel­come to the Mon­key House, which the author grad­ed a bit more harsh­ly with a B‑minus, and Break­fast of Cham­pi­ons, which, with a C, he ranked down among what he con­sid­ered his less­er works. But that dis­dain doesn’t affect his char­ac­ter­is­tic rich­ly weary deliv­ery of the text, and besides, some of his fans love Break­fast of Cham­pi­ons best of all. Bonus: Sto­ries from Wel­come to the Mon­key House is also an option.

If you don’t yet have the free soft­ware need­ed to play these or oth­er record­ings on Spo­ti­fy, down­load it here, start lis­ten­ing to these clas­si­cal­ly satir­i­cal, inven­tive, and cyn­i­cal mid­cen­tu­ry Amer­i­can nov­els, and pre­pare to hand out some grades of your own.

Look­ing for free, pro­fes­sion­al­ly-read audio books from Audible.com? For exam­ple, John Malkovich read­ing Break­fast of Cham­pi­ons? Or James Fran­co read­ing Slaugh­ter­house-FiveHere’s a great, no-strings-attached deal. If you start a 30 day free tri­al with Audible.com, you can down­load two free audio books of your choice. Get more details on the offer here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Kurt Von­negut Maps Out the Uni­ver­sal Shapes of Our Favorite Sto­ries

Kurt Vonnegut’s 8 Tips on How to Write a Good Short Sto­ry

Kurt Von­negut Explains “How to Write With Style”

Kurt Von­negut Urges Young Peo­ple to Make Art and “Make Your Soul Grow”

Hear Hem­ing­way Read Hem­ing­way, and Faulkn­er Read Faulkn­er (90 Min­utes of Clas­sic Audio)

Lis­ten to 60+ Free, High-Qual­i­ty Audio­Books of Clas­sic Lit­er­a­ture on Spo­ti­fy: Austen, Dick­ens, Tol­stoy & More

Col­in Mar­shall writes on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer, and the video series The City in Cin­e­ma. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

Watch the Behind-the-Scenes Blade Runner Promo Film … Created to Prevent a Box Office Flop (1982)

I have a con­fes­sion to make. This may anger some peo­ple, but I have to get it off my chest. I actu­al­ly like the Har­ri­son Ford voiceover in the 1983 the­atri­cal release of Blade Run­ner, though I do revile the hokey, hap­py end­ing. I guess I’m in pret­ty good com­pa­ny. Even the movie’s screen­writer, Hamp­ton Fanch­er, went on record to say “the old voiceover in the first ver­sion I sort of like bet­ter than all the rest of them.” In this regard, Fanch­er and I exist in what Col­in Mar­shall called “a curi­ous minor­i­ty” in a recent post on yet anoth­er recut of Blade Run­ner, a defin­i­tive ref­er­ence for almost every android/robot/AI movie made since.

It’s okay to like the the­atri­cal cut, or the 1992 director’s cut, or the 2007 “final cut”—let a thou­sand Blade Run­ner fan­doms bloom, I say, as long as the film remains a crit­i­cal ref­er­ence for sci-fi cin­e­ma for many years to come. But part of the rea­son for all these lat­er ver­sions, besides that tacked-on end­ing, is the voiceover, which direc­tor Rid­ley Scott hat­ed, and Har­ri­son Ford hat­ed, and even the stu­dio exec­u­tives, who forced him to record it, hat­ed. The stu­dio hat­ed almost every­thing about the movie, and the crit­ics were most­ly unim­pressed. Siskel called it “a waste of time”; Ebert gave it an unen­thu­si­as­tic thumbs up. (Philip K. Dick, on the oth­er hand, made some prophet­ic pre­dic­tions based on the lit­tle he saw of the film.)

Audi­ences didn’t cozy up to Blade Run­ner either. They went to see E.T. instead. Blade Run­ner opened at the box office with a dis­ap­point­ing $6 mil­lion week­end. Sens­ing all this trou­ble even before the film’s release, exec­u­tives com­mis­sioned M.K. Pro­duc­tions to shoot the pro­mo­tion­al film above, a behind-the-scenes short doc­u­men­tary that cir­cu­lat­ed at hor­ror and sci-fi con­ven­tions in 1982. Intro­duced by a bored-look­ing Rid­ley Scott (and some cheesy sev­en­ties funk), the 16mm short gave poten­tial fans a glimpse of Blade Run­ner’s heav­i­ly Tokyo-accent­ed future Los Ange­les, its clas­sic noir plot ele­ments, and its visu­al effects by mas­ter­minds Syd Mead and Dou­glas Trum­bull, both of whom appear here.

Those of us fans now liv­ing in the future may find the footage of the movie’s pro­duc­tion and the detailed expla­na­tions of its set design fas­ci­nat­ing. It’s hard to know what the orig­i­nal view­ers of this extend­ed trailer/promotional vehi­cle might have thought, though it clear­ly did­n’t move enough of them to fill the the­ater seats. I can imag­ine, though, that many a sci­ence fic­tion lover and Blade Run­ner fan who missed the movie’s first run might regret it now. Voiceover, sap­py end­ing and all, it would have been a treat to be one of the first to see this now ubiquitous—and deserved­ly so—sci-fi detec­tive sto­ry.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

Blade Runner’s Minia­ture Props Revealed in 142 Behind-the-Scenes Pho­tos

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

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

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.