Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sometimes The Movie Is Better

Recently I have had the pleasure of reading a book which has been on my 'to read' for some time. My list is rather long and constantly being added to but on occasion I get to cross one off. The book that I read was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick which was published in 1968. That story later became the Ridley Scott directed 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner. The movie pretty much brought the cyberpunk genre to the masses.

Now in an effort to be transparent and open I will say that Blade Runner is one of my favorite movies of all time. The acting talents of Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Daryl Hannah combined with a fantastic Vangelis soundtrack just bring to life an utterly dystopian futuristic world. The aura of the movie is pure early 80s, but it is cross-thatched with a perfectly executed film noire aspect.

I was rather young when the movie came out so I learned of the book some time after the fact. Now it is quite understandable why people habitually say in general that the book is better than the movie. It usually is. A book has less time and pacing constraints. With that in hand books have more time to explore ideas and generate greater plot development. When it comes to Hollywood 'meddling' with perfectly good stories I am right up chastising with a finger of accusation. And I am justified when I do, but I am giving this one back.

In this case the screenplay developers knew what they were doing. I enjoyed reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. I knew exactly why P.K.D. set things up the way he did. The logical arguments he used in setting up the universe of the story were balanced. It all worked.

Unfortunately, in comparison the movie told the story better. The movie removed some of the more cumbersome elements of book. (For those in the know I'm referring to the elements of Mercerism, Buster Friendly and the rogue police station.) The movie also gave Rachel a better role and made Roy Batty a more ominous adversary for Deckard.

The book has its positives though. The book explained the situation completely. You understand the importance of animals. After I read the book I knew exactly what was going on and why. The book explains the importance of the Voight-Kampff test in a detailed light. But for pure story telling the movie focused. It focused on Deckard and the motivations as to why the replicants did what they did.

I must repeat. I enjoyed the book. The end of the book just seemed a bit rushed and confused which left me a little sour. The author went through considerable effort setting up the world and then bang Deckard offs the three remaining replicants in one scene then trots off into the desert. I wanted more.

The time difference between the book and movie is only fourteen years. I'm not going to factor that in. The science and culture of the book equates evenly enough to the book.

Although I will say that both the movie and book sinned in killing off Pris way too quickly.

For any fan of Blade Runner I would certainly recommend reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? if you want a fuller exploration into the story.

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