The original Blade Runner (1982) presented a dank, grim vision of Los Angeles in 2019, as imagined by the great sci-fi author Phillip K. Dick (based upon his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). It was an odd summer release, a melancholy and sometimes plodding film, it was very much a cinematic counterpoint to the uniformly bright and bouncy films dominating the top 10 that year, which included E.T., Tootsie, Rocky III, Star Trek II, 48 Hrs., and Annie.
You might be surprised to learn that Blade Runner was not a very successful film, running only 5 weeks in theaters and finishing twenty-seventh at the 1982 box office. Given that the film starred Harrison Ford in his prime, was directed by Ridley Scott during his post-Alien ascension, and was an adaptation of a beloved sci-fi novel, the film’s lack of success seems surprising. It was only much later that Blade Runner attained its current cult status.
Blade Runner‘s original, theatrical ending may have contributed to its struggles (the director’s cut expanded some scenes and altered the ending). The theatrical version of the film ended abruptly, and its resolution was ambiguous (to put it mildly). We were left wondering whether Ford’s Rick Deckard was a human or a replicant, whether he’d escape the planet with Rachael (Sean Young), and just how many replicants were still out there? Perhaps addressing or resolving some of these open questions appealed to Scott, who is now an executive producer on the sequel, Blade Runner 2049.
Apparently, thirty years later there are still replicants, the LAPD still hunts them, and the world is just as gloomy and foggy as ever. The plot of Blade Runner 2049 is equally murky, involving a long-hidden mystery that involves a dire species-ending mystery and Deckard, who is still very much alive but in-hiding.
Deadline has released a short clip, which doesn’t exactly clarify the plot, but certainly expresses a sliver of the world in which it resides. L.A. in 2049 is very post-post-dystopian, much more fractured and decaying then you might have expected.
The setting in this clip, which bears a striking resemblance to both the Hughes Brothers’ The Book of Eli and Zenimax’s Fallout 4 video game, feels light years apart from anything from the original film. We see Ryan Gosling’s character, Officer K, wandering across an anemic, industrial wasteland and encountering a kind of junkyard factory populated by hundreds of mute child workers. The factory is run by Lennie James (The Walking Dead), who is perplexed by Officer K’s presence; his dialog suggests that this world is deeply corrupt and barely functional.
It’s an odd scene, and absent much context it’s probably foolish to infer too much. Los Angeles in 2049 has clearly continued the decline suggested in the original film, in which the rich and powerful emigrated to the Moon or Mars. There’s at least enough remaining society to necessitate the LAPD, and the funds to send cops out hunting replicants… if that’s indeed what’s happening here.
This clip suggests that Blade Runner 2049 is interested in both expanding the lore of the original film and also developing a broader and deeper story… oops, there I go inferring and speculating. With less than a month to go, all mysteries will soon be revealed.
Are you an original fan of Blade Runner or new to the franchise? Let us know in the comments down below!
Blade Runner 2049 hits theaters on October 6, 2017.
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