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An iconic 1982 American cyberpunk noir thriller directed by Ridley Scott and written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples. It stars Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The film's electronic soundtrack is composed by Vangelis. It is an adaptation of the 1968 Philip K. Dick novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" The film's title is taken from the Alan E. Nourse novel, "The Bladerunner," but the film is not an adaptation of said novel, Scott simply liked the sound of the title and decided to use it for this film.
The film is set in Los Angeles, 2019. Through the use of genetic engineering, mega-corporations such as the Tyrell Corporation have created Replicants, androids who are virtually indistinguishable from humans. They bleed, have the ability to feel emotions and pain and to think for themselves, and have memories that are implanted in them. However, known Replicants are not given the same social status as humans. They are made to do menial labor on off-world colonies and they don't live as long as actual humans.
A group of Replicants, led by Roy Batty, refuses to accept their lot in life and they have illegally come to Earth from off world colonies to find Tyrell and make him extend their lifespans. Police officer and Blade Runner Rick Deckard is brought out of retirement and sent to stop Batty and his fellow Replicants. Deckard's job is to find Replicants and destroy them. In spite of his mission, he becomes romantically involved with a Replicant named Rachael, an experimental Replicant so much like a human that she doesn't realize she's a Replicant. As Deckard progresses in his mission, he finds himself finding doubts about the righteousness of his goal. . .
The film's story is noted for its ambiguity, both in terms of the cast's ethics and in plot details, with the story raising questions that don't have an explicit concrete answer. This ambiguity has also spawned multiple interpretations of the story and characters. Even the creators of the film disagree on aspects of the film's story: lead actor Ford and director Scott famously had differing interpretations of the film's protagonist Rick Deckard. The filmmakers behind 2049 also decided to not answer the question that the original film posed about Deckard, keeping it a mystery and a topic of debate.
Although Dick died before the film was officially released, he was able to view early footage of the film and was satisfied with what he saw unlike other adaptations of his work. When the film was released, it was met with a mixed reception. However, the film's stature and influence has notably grown over time. Multiple versions of the film exist with the most well known versions being the original theatrical release, the Director's Cut, and the Final Cut. While the main story is, for the most part, the same in all versions, each version has some significant differences which often influence viewers' interpretation of and opinion of the movie.
The film has come to be seen as the work that defined the cyberpunk visual aesthetic and many films, manga, anime, and video games within the cyberpunk genre also depict the future in a similar fashion. In the decades since the film's release, real world architecture has also begun to look more like Los Angeles in the movie. When William Gibson saw the movie while he was working on Neuromancer, the novel that would popularize the cyberpunk genre, he felt dismayed because Blade Runner depicted the future the same way he envisioned it and he feared that his novel would be seen as a rip-off of Blade Runner.
The film has spawned a series of sequel novels written by K.W. Jeter, Dick's friend, that are intended to reconcile the film's story with the original novel's. The 1998 movie Soldier, also written by Peoples, is set in the same universe as this film. The film has also received a video game in 1997, which functions as a side story set in the film's universe as opposed to an adaptation.
35 years after the original, a film sequel, Blade Runner 2049, was released in 2017. This installment is directed by Denis Villeneuve, a major fan of the original, while original director Scott acts as executive producer. Hampton Fancher returns to write the script alongside Michael Green. Harrison Ford returns as Deckard in a supporting role while the story focuses on a new protagonist played by Ryan Gosling. The soundtrack was composed by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Walfisch. Alongside the film, several side-stories were released filling in the gap between the original and the sequel. One of them is an anime spinoff/side-story titled Blade Runner Black Out 2022, directed by Watanabe Shinichiro, who cites the original film as the live action film with the biggest influence on him.
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