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What, exactly, is a "Blade Runner"?
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Vader
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 9:49 am    Post subject: What, exactly, is a "Blade Runner"? Reply with quote

This is a question that has really been bugging me ever since 1982, and I've never been able to formulate a satisfactory answer to it:

Okay, so everybody knows what a Blade Runner does: he's a replicant-hunting bounty-hunter-esque policeman. Well and good.

But what does the word mean? What is a "Blade Runner"? What blade? Runner what? Why? What does it mean?

Blade as in edged weapon? Or fan blade? Or what? And in that case, why?
Runner as in someone who runs? Or a smuggler? Or carpet? Or what? And in that case, why?
Or as in the synonym of both: the blades, or runners, under a sled? And in that case, why!?!

Does anyone have an answer, or some insightful speculation, as to what it might mean?
Has anybody ever heard or read Ridley Scott comment on where he got the name to go with the movie?
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Noeland
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It was the name of a Burrows novel.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blade_Runner_%28a_movie%29

That's where they got it from, and they had to pay him off to use it.

I would suggest watching Dangerous Days. It's discussed the film went through different titles.
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dcarty
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The "real" reason is the title was taken, with permission, from a sci-fi short story by William S. Burroughs basically because it sounded cool. While I haven't read the story in question I understand it's set in a dystopian future society and "Blade Runners" are guys who smuggle medical equipment.

I think Scott and Hampton Fancher discuss it to some extent in one of the documentaries included in the multi-disc set. That or I read about it in "Future Noir".

Now, if you're asking how the handle "Blade Runner" fits into the fictional world of 2019 L.A. I have no idea.
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hauptmann
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I watched Dangerous Days about a week ago, so it's pretty fresh in my mind.

dcarty is correct, they used it because it sounded cooler than "Dangerous Days". There seemed to be no further application of the term in the 21st century world in the film other than it was just a label. No explanation or rationale from Scott or Fancher.

It's always bugged me too.

With all the attention to detail payed to other aspects of the film, you'd think they would have figured out why they called them Blade Runners.

But then they seemed to be trying to apply the golden rule of sci-fi gimmickry-- don't explain how it works, just show that it does.

<shrug>
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Vader
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was asking for both, actually.

So, the real world explanation comes in fact from "blade" as in edged instrument, in this case a scalpel, and "runner" as in smuggler to wit, a smuggler of medical equipment.
All right.
First question answered. Fantastic!


So, that leaves the second question: how can it be fit into the world of the movie?
Scott, it seems, couldn't care less. So, has fan speculation ever yielded anything plausible?
Or, can we here at Propsummit generate a plausible rationale?
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andy
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IIRC the reasoning was that Deckard ran the edge between being a Cop and a Killer.

My own interpretation that I have used in my script, was that the early models of these replicants were military use, and were almost human like tanks and virtually indestructible. Still they needed and "Off switch" in case it wasn't working quite right in the lab or home barracks. The switch could also not be easily exploited by the enemy in combat, so they put in a very thin weak point in the back of the neck where a thin blade could be inserted and sever the contacts between the brain and body. This would allow for repairs to be made and the "Unit" to be redeployed as well. This of course would take a very quick person to come running up from behind with a thin blade in order to stop the malfunctioning replicant.

At first this job would be needed in the lab, and later in the military. In some cases the the only way to stop these replicants gone awry would be to totally destroy them. Later this would become the preferred method of dealing with the rogues, but the original name stuck. When the replicants were made illegal on Earth, these military specialists were the ones hired to do the job and train an entire police unit to deal with varied replicants still on earth.

Andy
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joberg
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the edge explanation...the same coin but standing and running on that edge between Cop and Executioner...love the image for sure.
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photek
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 19, 2011 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

until i actually read the question, i realized i have always thought of another film whenever actually considering the title 'Blade Runner' -
'The Razor's Edge' to be precise ...

its quite a fantastic film - not much by way of F/X but a really interesting story of a young man (Bill Murray) as a WWI ambulance driver and his adventures. its not a comedy at all, and Murray is young - but during his adventures, he ends up in the Himalayas on a spiritual journey. he is sitting with a monk in the snow and if i remember correctly, he asks the monk about the meaning of life (or some similar lofty question).

the monk responds with something like (to paraphrase): "the path to righteousness is as narrow as the razor's edge ... "

i equate the difference between what it is to possess a soul or to be human is as thin as/almost indistinguishable as (a blade/razor) when humans kill replicants inhumanely (shooting in the back) yet a Replicant understands the value of life so much he saves one in the end (Batty save Deckard).

as a side note - Razor's Edge was written by Maugham in the 40's and Burroughs wrote Blade Runner in '79 ... funny to think they had to pay Burroughs for that title when he might very well have gotten the idea form Razor's Edge.
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andy
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 20, 2011 3:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alan E Nourse Wrote his book 'The Bladerunner' in 1974. Burroughs's version 'Blade Runner (a Movie)' may have been an adaptation of that book. Both were paid for use of the title when the movie was finally titled that.

Love the movie 'The Razors Edge' as well. Kind of the original 'On The Road', which incidentally had a character in it that was based on Burroughs.

Andy
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Art Deckard
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vader wrote:

Scott, it seems, couldn't care less.


Blade Runner? Maybe LAPD slang term for Rep Hunters, later adopted as a semi-official name? Future cop-speak. Could mean anything.
Perhaps, from the rather obvious metaphor - 'on a knife-edge' but...

The unexplained nature of terms like this and also 'C-Beams' 'Tannhauser Gate' 'Off-World Kick-Murder Squad' 'have a better one' (alongside the mish-mash of city-speak) is essential to a film like Blade Runner. The future is a foreign land.

So Scott (Fancher/Peoples et al) cared enough* to just let these things be.
Let's hope whoever get's their grubby hands on the next film is equally as smart.



*although they dropped the ball when Bryant makes a reference to 'InterGalactic Runs'. Nothing ambiguous there. There's one for 'fun' fan speculation.

Inter-whaaat runs? Laughing
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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2011 10:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just skimmed through the thread so please excuse me if my opinion has been discussed.

I've always had the idea in my head when I first watched the movie as an 18-yr-old lad that the term referred to Deckard's situation while performing his duties as a replicant hunter:

He lives on the knife's edge (blade) and has to be on the run as much as the replicant he is after, because while he's hunting them, they're also hunting him down in order to stay alive...
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joberg
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PostPosted: Wed May 04, 2011 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting concept SaberFreak: I like it Cool
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Vader
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

SaberFreak wrote:
Just skimmed through the thread so please excuse me if my opinion has been discussed.

I've always had the idea in my head when I first watched the movie as an 18-yr-old lad that the term referred to Deckard's situation while performing his duties as a replicant hunter:

He lives on the knife's edge (blade) and has to be on the run as much as the replicant he is after, because while he's hunting them, they're also hunting him down in order to stay alive...


Good one. I like that.
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PostPosted: Thu May 05, 2011 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the origin of the name blade runner was discussed in one of K.W. Jeter's books. It's been so long since I read it that I don't remember the exact details. I think it had to deal with the so called "curve" that was a focal point in the novels. i.e. you can only be a blade runner for so long, any longer and you lose all empathy, and become that which you (the blade runner) are hunting. Or something like that. So in the novels "Blade Runner" was sort of inside black humor.
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andy
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PostPosted: Fri May 06, 2011 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Jeters first novel he explains the origin of the term "blade runner" to be an English variation on the German phrase "bleib ruhig", meaning "remain calm." It was developed by the Tyrell Corporation to prevent news about replicants malfunctioning.

Andy
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Eagle
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2011 1:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Isn't the top student (or students) at RMAS (Sandhurst) known as the blade runner? Mind a bit fuzzy...
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Art Deckard
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

andy wrote:
In Jeters first novel he explains the origin of the term "blade runner" to be an English variation on the German phrase "bleib ruhig", meaning "remain calm." It was developed by the Tyrell Corporation to prevent news about replicants malfunctioning.

Andy


Bloody Hell, that's so contrived and awful. If we were playing one of those Dictionary/Balderdash definition guessing type games this would seem like a particularly weak bluff.

Nice cover art on the French editions, though. Wink
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corellian77
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Like others here, I always equated the term "blade runner" with the metaphor of Deckard balancing on a proverbial razor's edge. Specifically, I thought the fine line Deckard (and all blade runners) walk had to do with the ever-present risk of retiring a human by accident (which, as Rachel points out, is always a possibility).

Beyond an in-world explanation, I think the title very aptly describes the central themes of the movie itself: Deckard is running the fine moral line between retiring killers and being a killer himself, while the replicants themselves are caught between killing and being killed (where's the moral high ground here?). Also, if one assumes Deckard is a replicant himself, he is balancing on a knife's edge between both worlds.

Plus, of course, the title just sounds cool Cool
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andy
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 2:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The title works as way of describing the movie characters position philisophically, which is cool, but it also needs to somehow also translate into the film's reality since they use the term as a way of descibing his job, even as an official position. It needs to have a more literal translation for it to work on that level as well. In the current reality there is a true to life military group called Blade Runner, that is a helicopter team. Of course their name came after the movie Wink That I think was the question the OP was asking about to begin with anyway.

Andy
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corellian77
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PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, within the reality of the film, I was trying to say that the term "Blade Runner" might have come into usage because of the risky nature of the job (i.e., the risk of retiring a human by accident).

This is a possibility Deckard himself acknowledges, and the fact that blade runner units sometimes forego the VK machine and rely on their instinct to retire a replicant (e.g., Zhora) further supports this idea of these guys walking a dangerous line in their profession.

Makes me wonder what would happen in L.A. 2019 if a human were accidentally killed.
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