Blade Runner

Directed by Ridley Scott, 1982

Written by Philip K. Dick and Hampton Fancher, from a novel by Philip K. Dick


Consider the film's use of genre conventions. How do film noir and science fiction fit together? What is gained by making such a combination?

More specifically: how does film noir, which is pretty strongly referenced to American culture in the late 1940s and 1950s, work in the context of Blade Runner's futuristic world? What aspects of noir does Scott make use of? The plot and characters? The ambiance and lighting? Since the look of film noir is pretty distinctly grounded in black and white cinematography, how does Scott appropriate its look in the context of a color film?

Consider more precisely how to describe the very distinctive look of the film. What sorts of lighting and composition does Scott employ? How do they work, together with the sets themselves, to create the appearance and set the mood of this futuristic world?

In what ways are looking and vision themselves given importance within the plot and thematics of the film?

What is the difference between human beings and replicants in the world of this film? How does this distinction change (if it does) over the course of the film? What characterizations and plot devices contribute to how we think about this question? In what way is the debate about 'what is human?' central to the themes of the film, rather than merely a plot device?

The director's cut of Blade Runner was released in 1992, ten years after the film's original release. The most significant difference between the two versions of the film is that the director's cut omits Harrison Ford's voiceover narration from the first release, and also omits a final scene showing green fields as seen from a spacecraft, to imply that Deckard and Rachel have escaped from the gloom of Los Angeles, while the voiceover informs us that Rachel, unlike other replicants, does not have an expiration date. The director's cut also adds one scene, a dream sequence in which Deckard imagines a unicorn in a field. What difference do all these changes make to the film?