Read Philip K. Dick’s Original Letter Describing His Reaction to ‘Blade Runner’



If you’re a fan of science fiction, Philip K. Dick is a name that does not escape you.  The prolific author of countless novels, novellas and short stories about humanity’s metaphysical relationship with the universe and technology, have not only influenced other writers, but plenty of filmmakers.

His short story “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” was the source material for Blade Runner.  The film, directed by Ridley Scott and adapted to a screenplay by David Webb Peoples & Hampton Fancher, was supposed to make good money.  It never did.  In fact, it has taken over thirty years for the film to overcome the obstacles in faced back in 1982: uninterested audiences, poor critical reception, and unfair studio representation.  Today, it’s a cult science fiction film and is even regarded by some as one of the “perfect” films of that genre (depending on the edited version).


If you’re a screenwriter or director who respects the source material that has inspired your project, I imagine the pressure to honour the original creator is pretty intense.  Compounding that stress would be studio influence interjecting, attempting to amplify the film’s marketability.  Apparently, the studio executive notes for Blade Runner were less than stellar:  “This movie gets worse every screening”; “Deadly dull”; “More tits,” they said.  The film was doomed from the start.

Philip K. Dick was an outspoken man in the press.  His resounding voice on paper was, if anything, emboldened when on camera or in interviews.  His reaction upon seeing Blade Runner would be expressed truthfully, as he saw it.  No one ever doubted that.  What they doubted was his compliance with Ridley’s cinematic vision.  But, much to the surprise of everyone involved, Dick’s reaction went beyond compliments or applause.  It dissected the film’s impact, an estimation of how the future of the science fiction genre would be affected by Blade Runner.

Philip K. Dick passed away before the film was released, so he never saw the final cut or the other edits that were to be released every subsequent ten years.  His speculation was based solely on the script and some of the completed sequences that were screened for him by The Ladd Company, the film’s distributor.

Here, we have the [scanned]original version of the letter to Jeff Walker, a higher-up over at The Ladd Company, who must have been the one to screen the footage for Dick.  Read all of Dick’s words of praise and future-telling below, as only he could write.

Click on the image for the larger version.


source: Open Culture



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