September 30, 2017
Getting Ready For Blade Runner 2049
It’s less than a week until the sequel to Blade Runner comes to theaters. And I’m happy to report, many of the film nerds I follow on twitter who’ve had the privilege of seeing an advance screening are all giving it a lot of praise. That shouldn’t come as such as surprise considering the director is Dennis Villeneuve who really killed it with last year’s Arrival. And he’s working with cinematographer Roger Deakins who’s past work includes many of the Coen Brothers films as well as the work of Sam Mendes. This is crucial because the shots and the atmosphere are such a critically important element of the original.
Blade Runner may be my favorite film of all time. There is no question it’s my favorite science fiction film, not to mention my favorite film by Ridley Scott and my favorite adaptation of a Philip K Dick story.
I am looking forward to this sequel so much I thought it would make sense to put together a guide for getting ready:
First, and most obvious, you need to re-watch Blade Runner, preferably the Final Cut. And if you’re lucky enough to have a collection with multiple versions I suggest also watching at least the original theatrical cut, and possibly the Director’s Cut. In the theatrical cut, the narration by Ford gives it a distinctly different experience. It’s pretty much universally accepted that it’s much better without the narration (and apparently Ford was so against doing it that he intentionally made it as campy sounding as possible), but the narration does give some insights to the world of Blade Runner and the characters that make watching it very worthwhile. The theatrical version was the first I ever saw, when I rented it on VHS as a teenager. Now when I watch the high definition final cut It’s astonishing to me how much visual clarity is added.
Next you should watch the three teaser short films that bridge the gap between the original and 2049. Much like the teaser films leading up to Scott’s Alien prequel earlier this year, these short films give context to the characters we can expect to see in the sequel.
Just as important as the visuals are the sounds. This YouTube video does a great job explaining the history of the soundtrack of blade runner, and just how much of an impact it makes on the film.
If you really want to prepare yourself you might consider doing a marathon of movies based on Philip K Dick (PKD) stories. Many of them share the most intriguing sci-fi themes: altered states of reality, personal crises of identity, artificial intelligence and whether it is any less valid human consciousness, corruption in politics and corporations, and the ethics of scientific advances.
Many of the most mind-bending science fiction films are based on the work of PKD. Examples include: Minority Report, Total Recall, The Adjustment Bureau … and some lesser known gems like Imposter, and the Total Recall 2020 TV series which actually bears a closer resemblance to the world Blade Runner than Total Recall. Although not really sci-fi, A Scanner Darkly and The Man in the High Castle are equally mind-bending.
If you really really want to be ready for the sequel, you could also watch the 1998 movie Solider staring Kurt Russel. David Peoples (one of the writers who converted Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep into Blade Runner) has stated that the film Soldier, which he also wrote, shares the same cinematic universe as Blade Runner, and since Peoples contributed to pretty significantly it’s only fair that he be given some credibility.
Philip K Dick certainly left behind a legacy in sci-fi. I’ve read on twitter that the director Villeneuve had a lot of creative freedom with the sequel, which is great by me. He has proven his abilities with sci-fi, and its very exciting to hear from many institutions that the sequel may even exceed the original.