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April 1994


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Patrick B Bjork <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 11 Apr 1994 10:10:42 -0500
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On Mon, 11 Apr 1994, Leigh Charles Goldstein wrote:
> Patrick-
> I don't think a happy ending is utopian. Utopian means depicting an ideal
> society where everyone is happy, as in the original novel called, I
> believe, Utopia, about a sort of communist/anarchist society.
> I'm not sure what a dystopia is... I'm not sure it's an English word.
> Is is an especially disfunctional society? More than the one we live in?
> In any case, I don't think Blade Runner is about the social order in
> the way Metropolis is. It's about an android, who has been created with
> a short life span to keep him a slave, who turns on his creator in an effort
> to get more life; in his efforts to save himself he becomes a murderer and
> subjects the one he loves to a violent death. In the last moments of his
> life, he learns to be compassionate, to appreciate the beauty of mortality
> that lies in the evanescence of events, and to love all life; this brings
> him a greater release than success at extending his life span.
> Therefore I count it as an optimistic film about the ability of man's spirit
> to survive the worst treatment in the most depressing world. Deckard's story,
> his attempt to renounce his job as an assasin, he growing feelings for the
> androids, his final acceptance of an android as a lover, mirror in lesser
> relief the same themes. The resolution of the story takes place within
> the characters, not within their dark world, which is why we don't need
> to know whether Deckard and his lover fly off to fairy-land or just live out
> their lives like anyone else.
> The original novel, IMNSHO, had a different theme; and Deckard was the
> main character... it was about his efforts to discover who he was, and how
> that seemed to change, and how as that changed the world around him changed.
> His own effort to discover himself changed what he was, and he discovered
> the appearance of solidity to the world was an illusion. Typical Dick
> psychotic paranoid break material <g>.
> Only a few hints of this are left in the film; a few more in the director's
> cut (see the supplemental material on the laser disk version if you haven't
> already).
> Well, that's what I think, anyway.
> Leigh Charles Goldstein [log in to unmask]
> voice: 303-478-5292 (USA) CIS 70304,211
You raise some valid points here, but your approach seems somewhat
reductionist to me. Let me explain by addressing your points in order of
1. Who said anything about a happy ending?
2. Utopia, as defined by Merriam-Webster in the first definition, is "an
imaginary and indefinitely remote place. Certainly where Dekard flys off
to is a remote place and, for the viewer, an imaginary place since we are
left with an opening-ending that allows us the opportunity to imagine
potentially ideal possibilities. Further, if you compare this ideal place
with the society that Deckard has just left, then surely it appears utopian.
3. Dystopia, as defined by the 2nd ed. Random House, is "a society
characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and
overcrowding." This seems to fit Deckard's society quite well. You may
also recall that thoughout the film, there are constant reminders of an
utopian world in the Off-World ad machine that circles about the dystopic
4. I wasn't comparing _Blade Runner_ with _Metropolis_ but since you
bring it up I'm curious to know how your interpretation varies from
_Blade Runner_ in terms of character resolutions. In both stories the
resolution seems to take place in the characters--are you suggesting that
in order for a utopian move to be valid the "dark world" must see the light?
You'll need to clarify that for me.
5. Finally, comparing _Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep_ with Blade
Runner_ is pretty risky, since the approach take by both novelist and
director are wildly different, not to mention that we're discussing two
different art forms. More importantly, how is the world changed in _Do
Androids Dream. . ._? it seems pretty clear that the kipplization of the
world will continue and, unlike _Blade Runner_ there's no utopia in
6. Incidentally, from a purely plausible standpoint, I mentioned that
the ending of _Blade Runner_ doesn't quite work because it appears
tacked on; perhaps a producer's or studio's demand after a preview, but
the fact that most everyone is trying to get to the Off-World suggests
that this place Deckard flys off to simply can not exist.
Patrick Bjork
Bismarck State College
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