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= Blade Runner: Frankenstein Redux =

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Purposeful or Not? To begin with, not all of my stories are homages (other than the fact that perhaps all stories can be traced to earlier tales because of their universality). I'll name a few below that I clearly wrote while besotted with this movie or that novel. We may or may not purposefully write a story as an homage. It's a bit like the non-writer talking about literature, in that painful manner: "The author put symbolism in..." Did the author really? Or did the symbolism, in most cases, arise naturally from the emotions and ideas evoked by the core drama?

Blade Runner I have a special place in my heart for science fiction, which constitutes well over half of my life's oeuvre. My favorite movie of all time is Ridley Scott's 1982 Blade Runner. It's also perhaps the one favorite of mine for which I have not (yet) written an homage, although I have one on the drawing board. When I saw the movie for the first time (of many) in 1982, I knew immediately that my artistic life had been profoundly influenced and changed by a great work of art. Today it's recognized in most quarters as one of the finest movies ever made. There was a lot of the usual mob bashing against it at the time by people who couldn't grasp its themes—and too many people still don't really get it completely if at all. We can discuss Blade Runner in many ways, on many levels, clearly as literature in film. One of my take-aways was that it is a modern take on the Frankenstein theme. Mary Shelley's archetypal classic, first told on a dark and stormy night at Lord Byron's Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva in 1816 (during the infamous global Year of No Summer due to the massive 1815 Plinian eruption of Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies). The quest of the replicants is to find their maker Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel) and induce him to give them the balance of their lives that he designed them not to have. In a similar manner, Shelley's replicant revisits his maker, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, to demand he make him a mate like himself. In the larger context, both stories quickly go to the overarching theme (that affects us all) of what it means to be human and mortal. People who think the Frankenstein theme is simply an entertaining monster flick miss the boat entirely, as they do with Ridley Scott's great movie (based on the 1968 Philip K. Dick novel Do Robots Dream of Android Sheep?).

By The (Vampire) Way. One must mention the epic contribution at that same lake, that same dark and stormy summer, by Lord Byron's personal physician, the young Dr. John Polidori. While Mary Shelley spun out tales of her Frankenstein creation, Polidori invented one of the first major, modern vampires, Lord Ruthven or The Vampyre. It's been said that the tale spinners scared themselves so out of their wits that they ran outside into the night, screaming on one occasion.

Blade Runner is replete with memorable scenes. One we should associate with the Frankenstein theme is what happens when Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) and his surviving fellow replicants finally arrive at the penthouse of Dr. Tyrell. They seem as human as you or I, and a reasonable person must sympathize with their desperate, forlorn quest to obtain more life from their maker. What follows is a moment of bitterness and destruction when Roy crushes Tyrell's head, taking life from him as he has taken it from them. the movie's most famous speech is the Tears in Rain monologue by Roy a while later. Often forgotten, but at least equally great and morally more compelling, is Roy's final act. In dying, Roy saves the life of his pursuer (Deckard, played by Harrison Ford). Deckard, able to live on, while his savior lies dead before him in the rain, makes another soliloquy to the effect that (I must paraphrase until I find the exact text) "he loved life so much that he would even save my own, despite what I did to him." And of course in some versions of the movie, Deckard himself is clearly shown (along with Rachel, played by Sean Young) to be an advanced replicant. I love all the versions of it, the way you'd enjoy a Mozart or a Ravel played by various orchestras.

Blade Runner is the one favorite story for which I have not yet completed an homage, although one is on the drawing board. Suffice it to say, it will not be derivative but will be entirely original and fresh; but it should convey the spiritual power I have long felt about this great creation of Ridley Scott. Now let's talk about another one: the Robinson Crusoe theme, also commonly categorized as a literature and filmography of Robinsonades.