Blade Runner is a movie loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Unfortunately, Dick died just before Blade Runner released in theaters in 1982. It’s a shame, because this was the movie that brought his work into the public eye, and led to other blockbuster films such as Minority Report, Total Recall, Paycheck, and The Adjustment Bureau. Of all of them, though, “Blade Runner” and “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” remain my favorites because of how they ask a profound question: What does it mean to be human?
Harrison Ford stars as Deckard, a retired “blade runner,” a slang term for someone who chases down rogue androids and “retires” them. Retirement, for an android, mean permanent, forceful deactivation. If we did that to a human, we would call it killing them, but are these androids people? They have feelings, thoughts, hopes and dreams- is that enough to call them human? This question is a favorite one of mine, and nothing else I’ve ever read or seen asks it as well as this movie. That’s why I wish I’d written it.