William Cook

How Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic, Blade Runner, foresaw the way we live today

<span style="color: #222222;">On the eve of the re-release of </span><span class="il" style="color: #222222;">Scott</span><span style="color: #222222;">'s 'Final Cut' at the BFI, William Cook explores the thoroughly modern riddles at the heart of this cult movie</span>

In 1977 a journeyman actor called Brian Kelly optioned a science-fiction novel called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The book’s author, Philip K. Dick, had been writing science fiction since the early 1950s. He was 49 years old, with 30 novels behind him. He had a cult reputation, but he barely scraped a living. Kelly only paid him $2,500, but Dick was happy with this windfall. He’d written this book for half as much, back in 1968. After five more years, and many rewrites, Dick’s book finally became a film. Directed by Ridley Scott and renamed Blade Runner, it’s now commonly — and quite rightly — regarded as one of the greatest science-fiction movies ever made.

Now finally, after all this time, comes confirmation of the long-awaited sequel — directed by Ridley Scott, and starring Harrison Ford again, reprising his leading role as robot hunter Rick Deckard. Ford says the script is ‘the best thing I’ve ever read’. Will Scott’s direction be just as good? Here’s hoping.

In the meantime, if you can’t wait for Blade Runner 2 (or whatever they eventually decide to call it), from 3 April you can marvel at Scott’s original masterpiece on the big screen once again, as Blade Runner: The Final Cut returns to cinemas nationwide, courtesy of the BFI. Novelistic in its detail, operatic in its intensity, Scott’s direction still takes your breath away. Yet the most striking thing about Scott’s film — and Dick’s novel — is that they both foresaw the future. After all these years, Blade Runner remains an unforgettable experience. But since 1982 it’s become something else as well — a futuristic metaphor for the way we live today.

Dick delighted in making (almost) accurate predictions: nuclear meltdown in the Soviet Union by 1985 (Chernobyl blew up in 1986); artificial life by 1993 (Dolly the sheep was cloned in 1997).

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in