A Reading of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in 100 Celebrity Voices

For every august per­son­age who’s tak­en a crack Edgar Allan Poe’s ever­green poem, “The Raven,” there are thou­sands more who haven’t.

Humorist Jor­dan Mon­sell is doing what he can to close that gap, pro­vid­ing a sam­pling of 100 most­ly male, most­ly white, most­ly human celebri­ty voic­es. It’s a solo recita­tion, but vocal­ly a col­lab­o­ra­tive one, with a fair num­ber of ani­mat­ed char­ac­ters mak­ing their way into the cred­its, too.

He cer­tain­ly knows how to cast out­side the box. Tra­di­tion­al Poe inter­preters such as Vin­cent Price and John Astin bring some well estab­lished creep cred to the enter­prise. Mon­sell picks Christo­pher Walken and Christo­pher Lee already have exist­ing takes on this clas­sic, and Antho­ny Hop­kins and Willem Dafoe are wel­come addi­tions.

But what to make of Jer­ry Sein­feld, Pee-Wee Her­man, John­ny Cash… and even poet­ry lover Bill Mur­ray? Man­ic and much missed Robin Williams may offer a clue. What good is hav­ing an arse­nal of impres­sions if you’re not will­ing to roll them out in rapid suc­ces­sion?

While some of Mon­sel­l’s imper­son­ations (cough, David Bowie) fall a bit short of the mark, oth­ers will have you regret­ting that no one had the fore­thought to record Don Knotts or JFK recit­ing the poem in its entire­ty.

The titles offer a bit of a mis­nomer. In many instances, it’s not real­ly the per­form­ers but their best known char­ac­ters being aped. While there may not be too great a vocal divide between play­wright Wal­lace Shawn and Vizzi­ni in The Princess Bride, The Dude is not Jeff Bridges, any more than Cap­tain Jack Spar­row is John­ny Depp.

The project seems like­ly to play best with nerdy ado­les­cent boys… which could be good news for teach­ers look­ing to get reluc­tant read­ers onboard. Show it on the class­room Smart Board, and be pre­pared to have mini-teach-ins on Katharine Hep­burn, Wal­ter Matthau, the late great Robert Shaw, and oth­er big names whose day has passed. Shrek, Gol­lum, and Har­ry Potter’s house elf, Dob­by, are on hand to keep the ref­er­ences from feel­ing too moldy.

The specter of Poe gets the cov­et­ed final word, a balm to the ears after the triple assault of Chris­t­ian Bale’s Bat­man, Mad Max’s Tom Hardy, and Heath Ledger’s Jok­er. (It may be a mat­ter of taste. You’ll hear no com­plaint from these quar­ters with regard to Mick­ey Mouse, Bert Lahr’s Cow­ard­ly Lion, or The Simpson’s Krusty the Klown, won­der­ful­ly unc­tu­ous.)

The break­neck audio patch­work approach doesn’t do much for read­ing com­pre­hen­sion, but could lead to a live­ly mid­dle school dis­cus­sion on what con­sti­tutes a suc­cess­ful per­for­mance. Who served the text best? Read­ers?

Fur­ther­more, who’s miss­ing? What voice would you add to the Monsell’s roll call, below?

Mor­gan Free­man

Ker­mit the Frog

John­ny Cash

Ringo Starr

David Bowie

Rick Mora­nis

Gary Old­man

Peter Lorre

Adam San­dler

Don Knotts

William Shat­ner

George Takei

Michael Dorn

Daffy Duck

Ricky Ger­vais

Foghorn Leghorn

Liam Nee­son

Nicholas Cage

John Tra­vol­ta

Antho­ny Hop­kins

Rod Ser­ling

Cook­ie Mon­ster

Jay Baruchel

Jeff Bridges

John­ny Depp

Archer

Dr. Phil

Gol­lum

Mandy Patinkin

Wal­lace Shawn

Bil­ly Crys­tal

Owen Wil­son

Dustin Hoff­man

Krusty the Klown

Apu

Chris­t­ian Bale

Michael Caine

Tom Hardy

Heath Ledger

Mick­ey Mouse

John Wayne

Jer­ry Sein­feld

Phil Hart­man

Goofy

Al Paci­no

Mar­lon Bran­do

Jack Lem­mon

Wal­ter Matthau

Christo­pher Walken

Rowlf the Dog

John Cleese

Robin Williams

Katharine Hep­burn

Woody Allen

Matthew McConaugh­ey

Cow­ard­ly Lion

Jim­my Stew­art

John C. Reil­ly

James Mason

Sylvester Stal­lone

Arnold Schwarzeneg­ger

Stewie

Daniel Day Lewis

Mag­gie Smith

Alan Rick­man

Dob­by

Jack Nichol­son

Christoph Waltz

Bill Mur­ray

Dan Aykroyd

Sean Con­nery

Bill Cos­by

Christo­pher Lloyd

Droopy Dog

Kevin Spacey

Har­ri­son Ford

Ronald Rea­gan

JFK

Bill Clin­ton

Keanu Reeves

Ian McK­ellen

Paul Gia­mat­ti

Sebas­t­ian

Stan Lee

Jeff Gold­blum

Hugh Grant

Ken­neth Branagh

Lar­ry the Cable Guy

Pee-Wee Her­man

Shrek

Don­key

Charl­ton Hes­ton

Michael Keaton

Homer Simp­son

Yoda

Willem Dafoe

Bruce Willis

Robert Shaw

Christo­pher Lee

Edgar Allan Poe

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hear Clas­sic Read­ings of Poe’s “The Raven” by Vin­cent Price, James Earl Jones, Christo­pher Walken, Neil Gaiman, Stan Lee & More

Edgar Allan Poe’s the Raven: Watch an Award-Win­ning Short Film That Mod­ern­izes Poe’s Clas­sic Tale

The Grate­ful Dead Pays Trib­ute to Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” in a 1982 Con­cert: Hear “Raven Space”

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

Lin-Manuel Miranda Reads Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

It’s worth tak­ing note of this: In a new­ly-released audio­book, Lin-Manuel Miran­da (the cre­ator and star of Hamil­ton) nar­rates Junot Diaz’s Pulitzer Prize-win­ning nov­el, The Brief Won­drous Life of Oscar Wao. Above and below, lis­ten to excerpts of an unabridged read­ing that lasts near­ly 10 hours. And also note that Miran­da is joined at points by Tony Award-win­ning actress, Karen Oli­vo.

If you’re tempt­ed to hear the full pro­duc­tion, you can pur­chase the audio­book online. Or you can down­load it for free by sign­ing up for Audi­ble’s 30-day free tri­al. As I’ve men­tioned before, if you reg­is­ter for Audi­ble’s free tri­al pro­gram, they let you down­load two free audio­books. At the end of 30 days, you can decide whether you want to become an Audi­ble sub­scriber (as I have) or not. No mat­ter what you decide, you get to keep the two free audio­books. Miran­da’s read­ing of The Brief Won­drous Life of Oscar Wao can be one of them.

For any­one who wants free read­ings of Diaz sto­ries, see our post: 7 Short Sto­ries by Junot Díaz Free Online, In Text and Audio.

NB: Audi­ble is an Amazon.com sub­sidiary, and we’re a mem­ber of their affil­i­ate pro­gram.

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:

Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miran­da Cre­ates a 19-Song Playlist to Help You Get Over Writer’s Block

A Sneak Peek at Junot Díaz’s Syl­labi for His MIT Writ­ing Class­es, and the Nov­els on His Read­ing List

Hamilton’s Lin-Manuel Miran­da Cre­ates a Playlist of Protest Music for Our Trou­bled Times

“Alexan­der Hamil­ton” Per­formed with Amer­i­can Sign Lan­guage

The Smithsonian Design Museum Digitizes 200,000 Objects, Giving You Access to 3,000 Years of Design Innovation & History

John Lennon poster by Richard Ave­don

When we think of design, each of us thinks of it in our own way, focus­ing on our own inter­ests: illus­tra­tion, fash­ion, archi­tec­ture, inter­faces, man­u­fac­tur­ing, or any of a vast num­ber of sub-dis­ci­plines besides. Those of us who have paid a vis­it to Coop­er Hewitt, also known as the Smith­son­ian Design Muse­um, have a sense of just how much human inno­va­tion, and even human his­to­ry, that term can encom­pass. Now, thanks to an ambi­tious dig­i­ti­za­tion project that has so far put 200,000 items (or 92 per­cent of the muse­um’s col­lec­tion) online, you can expe­ri­ence that real­iza­tion vir­tu­al­ly.

Con­cept car designed by William McBride

The video below explains the sys­tem, an impres­sive feat of design in and of itself, with which Coop­er Hewitt made this pos­si­ble. “In col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Smithsonian’s Dig­i­ti­za­tion Pro­gram Office, the mass dig­i­ti­za­tion project trans­formed a phys­i­cal object (2‑D or 3‑D) from the shelf to a vir­tu­al object in one con­tin­u­ous process,” says its about page. “At its peak, the project had four pho­to­graph­ic set ups in simul­ta­ne­ous oper­a­tion, allow­ing each to han­dle a cer­tain size, range and type of object, from minute but­tons to large posters and fur­ni­ture. A key to the project’s suc­cess was hav­ing a com­plete­ly bar­cod­ed col­lec­tion, which dra­mat­i­cal­ly increased effi­cien­cy and allowed all object infor­ma­tion to be auto­mat­i­cal­ly linked to each image.”

Giv­en that the items in Coop­er Hewit­t’s col­lec­tion come from all across a 3000-year slice of his­to­ry, you’ll need an explo­ration strat­e­gy or two. Have a look at the col­lec­tion high­lights page and you’ll find curat­ed sec­tions hous­ing the items pic­tured here, includ­ing psy­che­del­ic posters, designs for auto­mo­biles, archi­tec­t’s eye, and designs for the Olympics — and that’s just some of the rel­a­tive­ly recent stuff. Hit the ran­dom but­ton instead and you may find your­self behold­ing, in high res­o­lu­tion, any­thing from a drag­o­nish frag­ment of a pan­el orna­ment from 18th-cen­tu­ry France to a late 19th-cen­tu­ry col­lar to a Swedish vase from the 1980s.

Mex­i­co 68 designed by Lance Wyman

Coop­er Hewitt has also begun inte­grat­ing its online and offline expe­ri­ences, hav­ing installed a ver­sion of its col­lec­tion brows­er on tables in its phys­i­cal gal­leries. There vis­i­tors can “select items from the ‘object riv­er’ that flows down the cen­ter of each table” about which to learn more, as well as use a “new inter­ac­tive Pen” that “fur­ther enhances the vis­i­tor expe­ri­ence with the abil­i­ty to “col­lect” and “save” infor­ma­tion, as well as cre­ate orig­i­nal designs on the tables.” So no mat­ter how much time you spend with Coop­er Hewit­t’s online col­lec­tion — and you could poten­tial­ly spend a great deal — you might, should you find your­self on Man­hat­tan’s Muse­um Mile, con­sid­er stop­ping into the muse­um to see how phys­i­cal and dig­i­tal design can work togeth­er. Enter the Coop­er Hewit­t’s online col­lec­tion here.

Tem­ple of Curios­i­ty by Eti­enne-Louis Boul­lée

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free: A Crash Course in Design Think­ing from Stanford’s Design School

Bauhaus, Mod­ernism & Oth­er Design Move­ments Explained by New Ani­mat­ed Video Series

Abstract: Netflix’s New Doc­u­men­tary Series About “the Art of Design” Pre­mieres Today

The Smith­son­ian Picks “101 Objects That Made Amer­i­ca”

Smith­son­ian Dig­i­tizes & Lets You Down­load 40,000 Works of Asian and Amer­i­can Art

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.

The Mysterious Voynich Manuscript Gets Digitized: Explore the 15th-Century Text That Linguists & Code-Breakers Can’t Understand

A 600-year-old manuscript—written in a script no one has ever decod­ed, filled with cryp­tic illus­tra­tions, its ori­gins remain­ing to this day a mys­tery…. It’s not as sat­is­fy­ing a plot, say, of a Nation­al Trea­sure or Dan Brown thriller, cer­tain­ly not as action-packed as pick-your-Indi­ana Jones…. The Voyn­ich Man­u­script, named for the anti­quar­i­an who redis­cov­ered it in 1912, has a much more her­met­ic nature, some­what like the work of Hen­ry Darg­er; it presents us with an inscrutably alien world, pieced togeth­er from hybridized motifs drawn from its con­tem­po­rary sur­round­ings.

Voyn­ich is unique for hav­ing made up its own alpha­bet while also seem­ing to be in con­ver­sa­tion with oth­er famil­iar works of the peri­od, such that it resem­bles an uncan­ny dop­pel­ganger of many a Medieval text.

A com­par­a­tive­ly long book at 234 pages, it rough­ly divides into sev­en sec­tions, any of which might be found on the shelves of your aver­age 1400s Euro­pean reader—a fair­ly small and rar­i­fied group. “Over time, Voyn­ich enthu­si­asts have giv­en each sec­tion a con­ven­tion­al name” for its dom­i­nant imagery: “botan­i­cal, astro­nom­i­cal, cos­mo­log­i­cal, zodi­ac, bio­log­i­cal, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal, and recipes.”

Schol­ars can only spec­u­late about these cat­e­gories. The man­u­scrip­t’s ori­gins and intent have baf­fled cryp­tol­o­gists since at least the 17th cen­tu­ry, when, notes Vox, “an alchemist described it as ‘a cer­tain rid­dle of the Sphinx.’” We can pre­sume, “judg­ing by its illus­tra­tions,” writes Reed John­son at The New York­er, that Voyn­ich is “a com­pendi­um of knowl­edge relat­ed to the nat­ur­al world.” But its “illus­tra­tions range from the fan­ci­ful (legions of heavy-head­ed flow­ers that bear no rela­tion to any earth­ly vari­ety) to the bizarre (naked and pos­si­bly preg­nant women, frol­ick­ing in what look like amuse­ment-park water­slides from the fif­teenth cen­tu­ry).”

The manuscript’s “botan­i­cal draw­ings are no less strange: the plants appear to be chimeri­cal, com­bin­ing incom­pat­i­ble parts from dif­fer­ent species, even dif­fer­ent king­doms.” These draw­ings led schol­ar Nicholas Gibbs, the lat­est to try and deci­pher the text, to com­pare it to the Tro­tu­la, a Medieval com­pi­la­tion that “spe­cial­izes in the dis­eases and com­plaints of women,” as he wrote in a Times Lit­er­ary Sup­ple­ment arti­cle ear­li­er this month. It turns out, accord­ing to sev­er­al Medieval man­u­script experts who have stud­ied the Voyn­ich, that Gibbs’ pro­posed decod­ing may not actu­al­ly solve the puz­zle.

The degree of doubt should be enough to keep us in sus­pense, and there­in lies the Voyn­ich Manuscript’s endur­ing appeal—it is a black box, about which we might always ask, as Sarah Zhang does, “What could be so scan­dalous, so dan­ger­ous, or so impor­tant to be writ­ten in such an uncrack­able cipher?” Wil­fred Voyn­ich him­self asked the same ques­tion in 1912, believ­ing the man­u­script to be “a work of excep­tion­al impor­tance… the text must be unrav­eled and the his­to­ry of the man­u­script must be traced.” Though “not an espe­cial­ly glam­orous phys­i­cal object,” Zhang observes, it has nonethe­less tak­en on the aura of a pow­er­ful occult charm.

But maybe it’s com­plete gib­ber­ish, a high-con­cept prac­ti­cal joke con­coct­ed by 15th cen­tu­ry scribes to troll us in the future, know­ing we’d fill in the space of not-know­ing with the most fan­tas­ti­cal­ly strange spec­u­la­tions. This is a propo­si­tion Stephen Bax, anoth­er con­tender for a Voyn­ich solu­tion, finds hard­ly cred­i­ble. “Why on earth would any­one waste their time cre­at­ing a hoax of this kind?,” he asks. Maybe it’s a rel­ic from an insu­lar com­mu­ni­ty of magi­cians who left no oth­er trace of them­selves. Sure­ly in the last 300 years every pos­si­ble import has been sug­gest­ed, dis­card­ed, then picked up again.

Should you care to take a crack at sleuthing out the Voyn­ich mystery—or just to browse through it for curiosity’s sake—you can find the man­u­script scanned at Yale’s Bei­necke Rare Book & Man­u­script Library, which hous­es the vel­lum orig­i­nal. Or flip through the Inter­net Archive’s dig­i­tal ver­sion above. Anoth­er pri­vate­ly-run site con­tains a his­to­ry and descrip­tion of the man­u­script and anno­ta­tions on the illus­tra­tions and the script, along with sev­er­al pos­si­ble tran­scrip­tions of its sym­bols pro­posed by schol­ars. Good luck!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

1,000-Year-Old Illus­trat­ed Guide to the Med­i­c­i­nal Use of Plants Now Dig­i­tized & Put Online

Won­der­ful­ly Weird & Inge­nious Medieval Books

Wear­able Books: In Medieval Times, They Took Old Man­u­scripts & Turned Them into Clothes

Carl Jung’s Hand-Drawn, Rarely-Seen Man­u­script The Red Book: A Whis­pered Intro­duc­tion

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

Circus Artist Roxana Küwen Will Captivate You with Her Foot Juggling Routine

Rox­ana Küwen is a Ger­man-born cir­cus artist who “likes to take her audi­ence into her world and make them be aston­ished, con­fused or amazed by play­ing with cat­e­gories and pres­ence.” Wit­ness the video above, where Küwen does some­thing quite sim­ple. She puts her feet next to her hands and moves her 20 dig­its in uni­son. Famil­iar body parts are put into strange motion, leav­ing you feel­ing charmed. But also a bit dis­con­cert­ed.

Then Rox­ana starts her foot jug­gling rou­tine. It’s not the most high veloc­i­ty, risk-filled jug­gling act. The balls move slow­ly and nev­er get more than a few feet off of the ground. There’s a strange sim­plic­i­ty to it, though cap­ti­vat­ing nonethe­less. 

Relat­ed Con­tent

Watch Alexan­der Calder Per­form His “Cir­cus,” a Toy The­atre Piece Filled With Amaz­ing Kinet­ic Wire Sculp­tures

Watch Mar­cel Marceau Mime The Mask Mak­er, a Sto­ry Cre­at­ed for Him by Ale­jan­dro Jodor­owsky (1959)

How Mar­cel Marceau Start­ed Mim­ing to Save Chil­dren from the Holo­caust

Musician Taryn Southern Is Composing Her New Album with Artificial Intelligence: Hear the First Track

“Break Free” is a new song by Taryn and Amper. The for­mer, Taryn South­ern, is a musi­cian and singer pop­u­lar on Youtube. The lat­ter, how­ev­er, is not human at all. Instead, Amper is an arti­fi­cial­ly intel­li­gent music com­pos­er, pro­duc­er and per­former, devel­oped by a com­bi­na­tion of “music and tech­nol­o­gy experts” and now put to the test, being the engine behind Taryn’s sin­gle and even­tu­al­ly a full album, ten­ta­tive­ly called I AM AI.

To under­stand what is Taryn and what is Amper in this project, the singer talks about it in this Verge inter­view:

The way it works is to give the plat­form cer­tain input like BPM, instru­men­ta­tion that I like, genre, key, etc. The plat­form will spit a song out at me, and then I can iter­ate from there, mak­ing adjust­ments to the instru­ments and the key. I can even change the genre or emo­tion­al feel or the song, until I get some­thing that I’m rel­a­tive­ly hap­py with. Once I have that, I down­load all the stems of the instru­men­ta­tion to build actu­al song struc­ture.

What Amper’s real­ly good at is com­pos­ing and pro­duc­ing instru­men­ta­tion, but it doesn’t yet under­stand song struc­ture. It might give you a verse or the cho­rus and it’s up to me to stitch these pieces togeth­er so that it sounds like some­thing famil­iar you would hear on the radio. Once I’m hap­py with the song, then I write the vocal melody and lyrics.

The key sen­tence for cyn­ics is the sec­ond to last one. Amper deliv­ers the famil­iar, or rather, Taryn makes Amper work until she gets some­thing famil­iar. AI is not at the stage yet where it might sur­prise us with a deci­sion, except in the cas­es where it goes spec­tac­u­lar­ly wrong. Right now it’s very good at learn­ing pat­terns, at imi­tat­ing, at deliv­er­ing a vari­a­tion on a theme. (That’s why it’s real­ly good at imi­ta­tion Bach, for exam­ple.)

We could imag­ine, how­ev­er, a future where AI would be able to take a num­ber of musi­cal ele­ments, styles, and gen­res and come out with a hybrid that we’ve nev­er heard before. And would that be any bet­ter than hav­ing a human do so?

By the way, you can try out Amper your­self here. Your mileage may vary.

via Elec­tron­ic Beats

Relat­ed con­tent:

Hear What Music Sounds Like When It’s Cre­at­ed by Syn­the­siz­ers Made with Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence

Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Pro­gram Tries to Write a Bea­t­les Song: Lis­ten to “Daddy’s Car”

Two Arti­fi­cial Intel­li­gence Chat­bots Talk to Each Oth­er & Get Into a Deep Philo­soph­i­cal Con­ver­sa­tion

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.

Ridley Scott Walks You Through His Favorite Scene from Blade Runner


The open­ing Voight-Kampff test that turns explo­sive, the flight over the high-rise rooftops and past the tow­er-side video geisha of 2019 Los Ange­les, Roy Bat­ty’s dying mono­logue on the rainy rooftop, Deckard pick­ing up Gaff’s origa­mi uni­corn: like any oth­er movie mer­it­ing clas­sic sta­tus, Blade Run­ner less pos­sess­es mem­o­rable scenes than com­pris­es noth­ing but mem­o­rable scenes. Fans have, of course, argued for their favorites, and if you have one your­self you can now com­pare your judg­ment against that of the film’s direc­tor Rid­ley Scott, who talks about which Blade Run­ner scene he holds in high­est esteem in the new video from Wired above.

Scott picks the scene when Deckard, Har­ri­son Ford’s hunter of the arti­fi­cial human beings known as repli­cants, vis­its the offices of the colos­sal Tyrell Cor­po­ra­tion that invent­ed them and inter­views an immac­u­late­ly put-togeth­er young lady, almost a vision out of film noir, named Rachael.

But that’s no lady — that’s a repli­cant, at least accord­ing to the Voight-Kampff gear he breaks out and sets up for the pro­ce­dure. “To Rick Deckard, it’s just a job,” says Scott. “He appears to be obliv­i­ous to the beau­ty and is unim­pressed by what he sees. At the end of it, he says, ‘How can it now know what it is?’ He calls her ‘it.’ So obvi­ous­ly she’s a race apart.”

But how to sig­nal that to the audi­ence, show­ing with­out telling? Scott speaks of mod­el­ing Rachael after Hedy Lamarr, the Aus­tri­an-born star from the gold­en age of Hol­ly­wood “who had a sever­i­ty which was spec­tac­u­lar.” Still work­ing at a time in cin­e­ma when “dig­i­tal does­n’t have a word,” he want­ed a way to dif­fer­en­ti­ate repli­cants from humans by putting an unusu­al “light in their eyes” (he ref­er­ences the leop­ard in the begin­ning of Stan­ley Kubrick­’s 2001: A Space Odyssey). Spe­cial effects super­vi­sor Dou­glas Trum­bull (who’d also worked on 2011) came up with a cam­era-mount­ed half-mir­ror that would, just often enough, tilt to make a “gold­en light” reflect off the reti­nas of Rachael and the oth­er repli­cants. Scot­t’s ver­dict: “Genius.”

Many of us would say the same about most oth­er aspects of Blade Run­ner as well. But as with any artis­ti­cal­ly rich film, nobody, not even the direc­tor, has the final say about it. Scott may have an unam­bigu­ous atti­tude about the best part of Blade Run­ner, but then, he also has an unam­bigu­ous answer to the sto­ry’s cen­tral ques­tion of whether not just Rachael but Deckard him­self is a repli­cant. Will Denis Vil­leneu­ve’s soon upcom­ing sequel Blade Run­ner 2049 hon­or, ignore, or work around that answer? More to the point, will it, in the full­ness of time, con­tribute as much to our col­lec­tive mem­o­ry as did the orig­i­nal? Only one test, of the kind that hap­pens in the movie the­ater, will reveal that to us.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Art of Mak­ing Blade Run­ner: See the Orig­i­nal Sketch­book, Sto­ry­boards, On-Set Polaroids & More

How Rid­ley Scott’s Blade Run­ner Illu­mi­nates the Cen­tral Prob­lem of Moder­ni­ty

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

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.

AC/DC’s “Back in Black” Played on the Gayageum, a Korean Instrument Dating Back to the 6th Century

Every now and again, we check in on what’s hap­pen­ing in the musi­cal world of Luna Lee–a musi­cian who per­forms West­ern music on the Gayageum, a tra­di­tion­al Kore­an stringed instru­ment that dates back to the 6th cen­tu­ry. Over the years, we’ve shown you her adap­ta­tions of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Voodoo Chile;’ David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold The World;” Leonard Cohen’s “Hal­lelu­jah;” blues clas­sics by John Lee Hook­er, B.B. King & Mud­dy Waters; and Pink Floy­d’s “Com­fort­ably Numb,” “Anoth­er Brick in the Wall” & “Great Gig in the Sky.” To keep the tra­di­tion going, we bring you today Luna’s take on AC/DC’s 1980 clas­sic, “Back in Black.” Enjoy these four min­utes of met­al­ized Gayageum.

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Pak­istani Musi­cians Play an Enchant­i­ng Ver­sion of Dave Brubeck’s Jazz Clas­sic, “Take Five”

Talk­ing Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” Per­formed on Tra­di­tion­al Chi­nese Instru­ments

Ultra Ortho­dox Rab­bis Sing Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” on the Streets of Jerusalem

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.