N: Ridley Scott still thinks, "It
is one of the best movies I've ever made." He has made some
good films since, but nothing with the intellectual or visual depth.
What was different about Blade Runner?
Have you had the chance to read Ridley Scott: Close-Up yet?
The little career monograph I wrote about his work back in 1999?
There's a chapter in there that answers your question, I think.
It's in the Legend chapter. In that section, Ridley said
he felt overwhelmed by self-doubt after BR failed at the
box-office, that he suffered a crisis of self-confidence. Because
Rid really thought that he'd nailed what he was after with that
film, and then BR tanked at the box office. So perhaps Ridley
has intentionally steered away from more intelligent, complex stories
like Blade Runner since then because he's either wary of
getting burned again or now feels that a film like that will never
connect with a mass audience. These observations are pure speculation
on my part, however. That's really the sort of question Ridley should
But, you know, the movies Ridley has made after BR haven't
exactly been stupid ones. Nay, nay, I say; they've actually been
pretty smart. Even Hannibal, which I consider his weakest
work, was invested with a subtle intelligence. But then, Ridley's
a very intelligent filmmaker. That's one of the reasons I enjoy
his films so much.
N: What recent Scott film do you think
is one of his better works?
PS: Gladiator! It has problems, sure. Still, I love
that film! Its story and characterizations, its spectacle and performances,
its detailing and music - there's something inherently honorable
in that movie. And the depth of feeling in it… wow! I also
love Gladiator's overwhelming melancholy, its haunting sense
of loss. Which is very much like Blade Runner's! And of course
the combat scenes, both in and out of the arena, are amazing. I
just wish there were more of them.
N: Future Noir seems to reflect
the way Blade Runner was made - while it tells a story, it
is also multi-layered with great depth of detail. Just like the
film, there always seems to be some new nuance that I find every
time I dip into it. How much did you consciously attempt to parallel
the approach of the movie in your writing?
PS: I very consciously attempted to ape the film's visual
density with a corresponding barrage of literary detail. I mean,
if you're going to write about a film as complex as Blade Runner,
why do a book that isn't as intricate as its subject? But that's
the way I've always approached film history, you know. When my editors
allow it (laughs). The analogy I use is that, if I'm given my head,
I'll automatically adopt an approach that's very similar to the
"scorched earth" policy America used during the Vietnam
War. In other words, once I pass through a village, there's very
little left behind me.
N: Talking of writing, what do you
think of Jeter's "sequels" to DADoES/Blade Runner?
PS: I like the second one better than the first. First,
though, I have to tell you that I'd been reading Jeter's work before
he did those sequels, and already had a great deal of respect for
his talents. Jeter's one hell of a writer. He's found his own voice,
he's more than technically proficient, and there's this edgy, unnerving
undertone running through his prose that's very hard to shake off.
Part of that last quality, I'm sure, comes from the fact that Jeter's
not an ivory-tower writer. For example, at certain points in his
life, Jeter was a probation officer and a supervisor of a juvenile
correction facility. I'm sure those real-world experiences have
influenced the darkness in his work.
Anyway, and I know it sounds like I'm gushing here, but Jeter truly
has done some excellent, excellent work. His horror fiction, for
instance. Ever read Dr. Adder? Or Soul Eater? I mean,
fuck! And those are just two examples of a very singular talent.
why I was a bit disappointed when I read The Edge of Human,
Jeter's first BR sequel. It just didn't jell for me. Jeter's
high level of craftsmanship was certainly on display, and Edge
did incorporate the Dickian themes of deception, conspiracy, and
the nature of reality. But overall, I thought Edge had plot
and characterization problems. It also felt a little… thin.
So that one didn't work for me.
However, I enjoyed Jeter's second BR novel. Replicant
Night seemed not only more of a "Jeter" book, it also
seemed more in tune with BR's original harmonics, and the
authorial voice of Philip K. Dick. Still, I don't think I'd rush
out to adapt either book as the first cinematic BR sequel.
That comment has nothing to do with Jeter, by the way; as I've said,
I think he's a wonderful writer. He can certainly kick my literary
ass! It's just that I feel that the "true" sequel to Blade
Runner has yet to see print, in either novel or screenplay form.
Then again, the beauty of Blade Runner lies in its originality.
Any cinematic BR sequel would have to work very hard to match
the freshness of its approach, or the remarkable fusion of collaborators
that earmarked the original. Otherwise, it's going to wind up falling
into the trap of diminishing returns. Which usually happens to sequels
anyway. Or to sequels to sequels.
N: Do you think there could ever be
a (good) film sequel to Blade Runner? If so, what might it
PS: Who knows? I mean, the personal, legal and political
tangles behind this film have pretty much ruled out the possibility
of any cinematic sequel. Although, lately, clouds do seem to be
lifting off of that particularly stormy horizon. So perhaps BR2
- the movie - will get the greenlight someday. But first, it's going
to have to have an intelligent, adult, hard-edged script. It's also
going to have to bypass any number of practical hurdles. Harrison
Ford, for example. He's 20 years older, and his fee is much higher
than the one he received for doing BR back in 1982. So right
away you'd have age and budget issues to contend with.
And where would you go with this sequel's production design? I
mean, BR broke the mold in the way it visually presented
a fully realized future society. Topping that would be a very tough
assignment. On the other hand, would you even want to? Perhaps,
as Ridley has said, the true sequel to BR shouldn't occur
on earth at all - maybe it should take place on an Off-World colony.
Or perhaps someone should write a screenplay suggesting that Deckard
is actually a Nexus 7. And immortal, to boot. Now there's
a subtext you could run with.