Do Directors Dream of Better Sequels?

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Alex Kirby

In 2017, 35 years after the original in 1982 which was set in 2019, 2 years from now, we find ourselves with Blade Runner 2049 which sets this sequel 30 years after the original.

Convoluted?

The path to its current position as untouchable significant cultural reference, at least for science fiction and film, has been a long and complicated trip.

Blade Runner began it’s journey as a 1968 novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”. From there it took 14 years to get to the big screen, involving several rewrites, a troubled shoot, alternative endings; with meanings and plot debated ever since.

But the result is a magnificent vision of an imagined future which has well stood the test of time and remains a source of inspiration for many filmmakers today. Philip K Dick thought up many brilliant ideas and it would take a real visionary like Ridley Scott to adapt it properly.

As a 14 year old back in 1982 I went to see Blade Runner expecting to see the next instalment of a Han Solo adventure, and I recall hating the film at the time. My younger self just wasn’t ready for what Ridley Scott was doing. Where were the aliens and space battles and why was it so dark and rainy all the time – boring!

Not much was known about it at the time – there was no internet and no real trailers and so a film’s success depended on word of mouth. People often waited longer to see a film – there wasn’t a 24/7 marketing machine building an immediate audience for the first weekend – films often took weeks or even months to find their audience in theatres.

With Blade Runner it took years.

It took the birth and growth of the home video market in the 1980s to introduce the film to a new set of admirers. There was a slow mystique to the film – a dark, grandiose vision that was a slow burn. Like a fine wine it got better with age – and perhaps this is what it needed after all – to mature in our minds. Over time its stature has grown and from it spawned many other Philip K Dick adaptations including:

  • Total Recall and its remake – Arnold Schwarzenegger & Colin Farrell
  • Paycheck – Ben Affleck & Uma Thurman
  • A Scanner Darkly – Keanu Reeves & Robert Downey Jr
  • Minority Report – Tom Cruise & Colin Farrell
  • The Adjustment Bureau – Matt Damon & Emily Blunt

And now on TV we have both “The Man in the High Castle” and “Electric Dreams”.

It’s impact and continued influence have become monumental so is it wise to create a sequel and tarnish this unassailable reputation?

The Director, French Canadian Denis Villeneuve, knows a thing or two about crafting exquisite thought pieces as witnessed most recently by last year’s Arrival; a very original look at an alien encounter that wasn’t about blowing everything up. Also Harrison Ford himself has called it “the best script he’s ever read”.

Early signs are promising then…

As big admirers of the original here at elastic we’re about to set off and check it out to see for ourselves. Once we’ve been able to digest and consider we’ll report back – but it might take a while.

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