I should have read this book before watching the film. But alas I knew of the film LONG before I even knew the book existed! I watched Blade Runner in the 1980’s and 1990’s and recently (last year). As I am currently reading a lot of utopian and dystopian ideas, it got me thinking how film makers are interpreting such concepts. Surprisingly, apart from the crap 80’s fashion and TDK billboards, the film didn’t feel that outdated. Dystopia was beaming marvelously and exponentially through out this film and I thought if this is the future I wouldn’t mind hanging around this chaotic and messy world.
However, the world in which Deckard (the main character) lived in, in the book was far less appealing and fantastical. Author – Philip K Dick portrayed him as a man caught up in consumerism and keeping up with the Joneses (or in this case the Barbours). Is this Dick’s impression of the future or was he already seeing and feeling it as he wrote the book (first published in 1968)? In Deckard’s dystopian world, live (real) animals were rare and priced highly. For those who couldn’t afford it, robotic version of pets/animals were the options. And Deckard pushed (forced) himself further to hunt highly-priced escaped replicants (android/cyborgs) for the huge salary reward so that he could buy an expensive animal be it real or robotic.
Apart from the androids, I didn’t really get that sense of the future in this original version. The portrayal of the environment in which Deckard worked and lived in were unbelievable. Surely that couldn’t have happened? Supposedly a post-apocalyptic setting but I didn’t get enough sense of that. Sure, there were the hows, whys and whens but they were only bubbling on the surface. For me, in depth scrutiny of the scenes and environment would have given the reader a better understanding of why Deckard did the things he did. Perhaps it wasn’t that important. Maybe this was only the means in which Dick could study the human psychology and condition. I do admit that it was clever of him and quite ahead of his time to have conjured up man-made human beings (and animals) to play out his empathy cards.
So…overall. If you haven’t read the book or seen the film, I suggest you read the book first. But if you see the film first, it doesn’t really matter. Either way, I would guarantee that you would enjoy the film more than this book!