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Blade Runner Is The Best Sci-Fi Film 972

Posted by michael
from the like-tears-in-rain dept.
Delchanat writes "Now there's scientific proof: according to 60 of the most influential scientists in the world, including British biologist Richard Dawkins and Canadian psychologist Steven Pinker, Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) is the best science fiction film. Late Mr. Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) finished 2nd, followed by George Lucas' Star Wars (1977) and The Empire Strikes Back (1980)." There are several other stories as well: favorite authors, the basics of science fiction, and an excerpt of a new Iain M. Banks novel.
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Blade Runner Is The Best Sci-Fi Film

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  • I'd have to agree. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 26, 2004 @07:52PM (#10083652)
    Blade Runner is awsome. Everytime I see the cityscapes and the hear the music that was used in those scenes I get chills down my spine. I'd love to live in a dark, gritty Blade Runner style world.
    • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:02PM (#10083736) Homepage Journal

      I'd love to live in a dark, gritty Blade Runner style world.

      Yeah! A world where you leave your shitty jobs to travel home through the throngs of other civilians in the endless rain just to find a renegade replicant in the kitchen that kills you.
    • by GuyMannDude (574364) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:17PM (#10083860) Journal

      Blade Runner is my favorite movie of all time. There's so much to like. One thing that fascinates me is that there is really no hero and no villains in the movie. I'm sure that most people argue that Harrison Ford's character is the hero. But let's think about that: his job is to execute escaped slaves. Hardly a noble persuit. Yes, he does this very relucantly but really that's not much of an excuse. When the film starts, we see him looking in the want ads for a job. Really, I wonder just how hard he's looking. With so much of humanity on the off-world colonies, there's probably plenty of jobs available -- just not very good ones. In addition, once Deckard is on the assignment, he seems to really get into it. Even when he's at home drinking he's studying the photo that he took from Leon's apartment with that fancy photo analyzer of his. He hardly seems to be someone who can't stand his job.

      The part about no villians is probably easier to argue. The replicants are simply doing what they can do survive. Yes, they have killed some people when they were trying to escape but they were slaves for chrissake! Pris is described as "'yer standard pleasure model." Basically she was created solely for use as a prostitute. It's not too surprising that she'd be willing to kill to get out of such a depressing situation.

      Even though the movie is set in the future and deals with technology and places that don't exist, I think the fact that there aren't any real true 100% heros or 100% villans makes the film very interesting and realistic. I think most people realize this on some level and it draws them to watch what happens when "realistic" people have to deal with messy situations.

      I think this is one reason why hardcore fans hate the dubbing. It makes the viewer tend to side with and identify with Deckard. That makes you see him as the hero even if he does questionable things. The Director's Cut lets you watch the movie as an impartial observer.

      GMD

      • by Simonetta (207550) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:45PM (#10084055)
        Since you liked BR, I suggest Chinatown 1973 if you haven't already seen it. It's not futuristic, but it does have the same errie feeling to it that BR does
      • by MrNemesis (587188) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:47PM (#10084070) Homepage Journal
        "He hardly seems to be someone who can't stand his job."

        Possibly because he was programmed that way?

        (Cue huge original theatrical release vs. directors cut flamewar)
        • About the flamewar (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tiltowait (306189) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @09:01PM (#10084160) Homepage Journal
          >Possibly because he was programmed that way?

          Parent post is referring Ridley's direction that Decker is a replicant [bbc.co.uk] -- although he was not in the book. As for how Ford acted the part, you can just as easily that he didn't act anything. The action star hated being in the film. (or more precisely, the director).

          The director's cut eliminated the cheesy voiceover. Voiceover narrations almost never work (Dances with Wolves comes to mind, ug) except when done by John Cusack.
          • by Muad'Dave (255648) on Friday August 27, 2004 @10:16AM (#10087981) Homepage

            Not to disagree with Mr. Scott, but if Deckard was a replicant, why did he always get his ass kicked by the 'real' replicants? Where was his super strength? ...or was he being underclocked on purpose?

      • by gidds (56397) <slashdot@@@gidds...me...uk> on Thursday August 26, 2004 @09:16PM (#10084263) Homepage
        the dubbing... makes the viewer tend to side with and identify with Deckard. That makes you see him as the hero even if he does questionable things. The Director's Cut lets you watch the movie as an impartial observer.

        Interesting analysis!

        I first saw the theatrical version (with dubbing); after that, the Director's Cut seemed to lack focus and drive, and the lack of explanation made things a little more confusing if you weren't paying extremely careful attention. So I tended to prefer the first one.

        But I see your point. By fixing on Deckard's PoV, we tend to take his motives, and his humanity, for granted, and miss some of the parallels with the (other) replicants -- things that Scott clearly didn't want us to do. Maybe the distance that the Director's Cut brings encourages us question these things. Next time, I'll view it with this in mind. Thanks!

    • by GrahamCox (741991) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:18PM (#10083875) Homepage
      I'd love to live in a dark, gritty Blade Runner style world.
      You do.
    • by BWJones (18351) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:51PM (#10084098) Homepage Journal
      I don't know if I would like to live in a dark gritty Blade Runner style world, but the movie did have a profound effect on me. I always thought the concept of restoring vision loss was cool, so I became a vision scientist. The line in the move "I designed you eyes", has got to be one of the coolest ever.

    • by FyRE666 (263011) * on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:51PM (#10084099) Homepage
      I actually preferred the movie with the dialog left in. I've heard that Ford hated having to recite the lines, so purposely sounded bored, but I think it adds to the film. Of course, the really stand-out dialog is from RH. The "Tears in rain" speech was a bit of a master-stroke...
    • by mikael (484) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:59PM (#10084151)
      Blade Runner is awsome. Everytime I see the cityscapes and the hear the music that was used in those scenes I get chills down my spine. I'd love to live in a dark, gritty Blade Runner style world.

      The music was by Vangelis [uibk.ac.at] who composed the soundtracks for many other movies including "Chariots of Fire" and "Antartica".
      One of my favourite tracks was "I'll find my way home" which was really a haunting melody.
  • WTF? (Score:5, Funny)

    by dougrun (633662) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @07:53PM (#10083656) Homepage
    dudes, stay on topic! Logans Run should be in there somewhere.
  • by ParticleMan911 (688473) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @07:53PM (#10083658) Homepage
    Wow, i'm glad our top scientists have taken so much time to come to this important conclusion!
  • What? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Writer (746272) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @07:56PM (#10083672)
    No Battllefield Earth [imdb.com]?
  • Star Wars? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Rolo Tomasi (538414) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @07:56PM (#10083678) Homepage Journal
    What does Star Wars have to do with science fiction?
    • Re:Star Wars? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by McDrewbie (530348)
      I agree. This is an adbenture film that just happens to be set to in space. There are not any real sci-fi themes beyond the fact they are in space ships.
    • Re:Star Wars? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Pyromage (19360) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:14PM (#10083831) Homepage
      Exactly what I was wondering when I saw the list. I classify maybe half the movies up there as sci-fi. The rest are pure fantasy. If they'd really been polling about sci-fi, they'd include at least one of: 1984, Equilibrium, X-Men, A Clockwork Orange, Minority Report.

      The original Star Wars was a great movie. But it's space opera at its best.

      I think part of the problem is just the relative lack of good sci-fi films. There's a lot, sure. But there's more good dramas.

      Yeah, it's a bit nit-picky to knock them quite so much on what may be a small topic, but I think the article would have made out much differently if they'd only allowed sci-fi movies.
  • Ugh (Score:5, Funny)

    by NanoGator (522640) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @07:59PM (#10083692) Homepage Journal
    The Matrix is up there but Wrath of Khan isn't?
    • by rsilvergun (571051) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:27PM (#10083934)
      With the hover craft wheel chair? Or the common use of specialized droids? Or the Senetorial room also using antigravity devices? Or cloud city? Or any one of a dozen other instances where we see advanced technology seamlessly blended into society? True, Star Wars isn't hard Science Fiction, but there was some effort to make it more than just an action flick in space.

    • by NetSettler (460623) <kent-slashdot@nhplace.com> on Friday August 27, 2004 @12:23AM (#10085308) Homepage Journal

      I don't know why it's marked "funny" that someone would suggest Wrath of Khan belongs here. I put it not only in my list of top 10 scifi pics, but in my list of top-ten best movies ever. It seems to me that it is the movie sequel that pioneered the idea of treating the time between movies as "part of the movie" instead of as "something to be ignored". So while James Bond grows older and we're supposed to ignore the fact, Star Trek did something boldly different: it allowed the characters to age with the actors, and allowed "grown up" thoughts about aging and death from people who used to be carefree young bucks and had off-screen learned what life was. Not to mention being a brilliant idea for a sequel and an outstanding plot.

      Also, before The Matrix, I would always prefer to see The Thirteenth Floor, which it seems to me is the same sci-fi concept cast into a much more thoughtful rather than Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark format.

      And while I think War of the Worlds was a pivotal book and radio production, I don't think the movie was an especially important work.

      And though I thought Star Wars was a fun movie, I have emotional trouble listing it as a great work of scifi. It's pulp. And maybe that entitles it to a spot. There's been tons of pulp scifi (Flash Gordon, etc.) that isn't represented. But there are such amazingly thoughtful pieces that I just don't see giving up a slot to something like this.

      Some other overlooked options for this list:

      • Slaughterhouse 5
      • The Andromeda Strain
      • Soylent Green
      • Planet of the Apes (the original only--don't even think of seeing the remake, or else be sure you stop watching about 10-15 mins before the end).
      • Silent Running
        (Well, I was very moved by it because of the age I was at when it came out. It might not appeal in the same way to a modern audience on a small screen, but...)
      • Back to the Future and its sequels (not to mention the Deep Space 9 episode where they Back-to-the-Futured the Star Trek Classic "tribbles" episode).
      • The Abyss
        (Also high on my list of all-time most romantic movies just for that scene where Virgil and Lindsey are stuck in the sub together needing to get back to the main habitat.)
      • The Forbin Project
        (Perhaps Wargames is also worth a mention in this general category.)
      • Total Recall
        (You may also like Vanilla Sky and Paycheck in the same category.)
      • 12 Monkeys
        (And if you liked this kind of thing you might also try the more obscure The Lathe of Heaven. I also enjoyed Timecop here, but a lot of people classified that as a simple action flick.)
      • Dark City
      • Contact

      And, ok, they're funny, but they are also still sci-fi and outstanding:

      • Demolition Man
      • Dark Star
      • Galaxyquest
  • Contact (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MauMan (252382) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @07:59PM (#10083694) Homepage
    I'm a bit suprised taht "Contact" did not make the list....
    • Re:Contact (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MrNemesis (587188) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:50PM (#10084093) Homepage Journal
      Hell yeah. That fantastic CGI sequence at the beginning as all our radio waves zoom off into the universe gives me shivers every time I see it.

      Best thing I liked is the human aspect, especially the juxtapostion of the fiercely rational scientist with the preacher.

      Hopefully it serves as a fitting epitaph to Carl Sagan. Certainly one of my favourite SF movies.
  • No Star Trek...Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Groovus (537954) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @07:59PM (#10083696)
    0 for 9 is it? I'd have thought maybe 2 or 4 would have gotten a mention. There's a couple on the list I think one of those could replace.
  • Brainstorm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thedogcow (694111) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:00PM (#10083710)
    Despite the awkward ending due to the death of Natalie Wood, Brainstorm [imdb.com] (1983) is a pretty good sci fi film.
    Very underappreciated.
  • by Trespass (225077) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:00PM (#10083713) Homepage
    Careful. Influential is not the same as 'important', or even 'competent'. It kind of makes me think 'attention whore', personally.

    That, and what do they mean by 'best'? The one that most closely aligns to my worldview? Prettiest?

    This is no better than those fluff 'top 100 whatever' pieces from the popular press. Meaningless and divisive.
  • Gattaca (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joel Aemmer (682131) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:01PM (#10083722) Homepage
    Gattaca [imdb.com] is a great one about DNA manipulation that is a little too close to reality for comfort. A great movie!
  • Brazil (Score:5, Informative)

    by wigle (676212) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:02PM (#10083739)
    Brazil should have made top ten if for anything because of its visual and somewhat frightening view of the future. Of the best sci-fi movies Brazil is one of the least outdated (technology wise). Its theme, very similar to 1984, I suspect will always be relevant.
    • Re:Brazil (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Monkelectric (546685) <slashdot@monkele c t r i c . com> on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:46PM (#10084063)
      I love Brazil, and I *LOVE* dystopian fiction, I consider myself a fan of the genre. However, the problem with Brazil is it really *IS* 1984. If you've read 1984, you've seen Brazil. Same with Farenheit 411 and most other dystopian fictions, which is why there is so little of it. (Although I consider Fight Club to pretty much be the pinacle of dystopian fiction)

      Brazil doesn't really make any contributions other then its gorgeous visual design, and the irony of being a rip-off of 1984 the book while simultaneously being a better movie then 1984 the movie :)

      • by AllenChristopher (679129) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @09:15PM (#10084256)
        1984 was made in the wake of WWII and during the rise of communism. It really seemed then that this kind of thing could hold onto a people into the future.

        Brazil is about how these movements fall apart and all we're left with the the crumbling infrastructure of a grand social scheme and petty regulations designed to protect that system that trap the ordinary fellow.

        1984 is about what the Western World feared communism would be. Brazil is about what communism, small-time fascism, and British capitalism all turned into.

        So yeah, it's just like 1984, but rewritten from the side of things where the worst didn't happen. That's not an insignificant contribution. If more tinfoil hat types would watch Brazil, we could all relax just a bit. It's not a nice world, but it's not that much worse than any world we've ever had.

        I think Dave Sims said, in one of his famous misogynists rant, that the key point in communism is that you do a lot of things to prepare society and then *boom*, human nature changes overnight, and you're free. Slashdot type know this as the ??? step. Brazil is about what happens if there is no ???.

        I can't wait to see what the similar view of today's "war on terror" is forty years from now. We fear a worldwide network of people who would attack us yearly in horrible ways.... what will we get?

      • Re:Brazil (Score:5, Funny)

        by ktakki (64573) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @09:24PM (#10084314) Homepage Journal

        Same with Farenheit 411 and most other dystopian fictions, which is why there is so little of it.

        Fahrenheit 411? Wasn't that the movie where they burned all the phone books?

        k.
  • ALIENS! (Score:5, Funny)

    by MaineCoon (12585) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:03PM (#10083747) Homepage
    On slashdot, anybody can hear you scream.

    Seriously, though, my all time favorite. Better than Bladerunner by far.
  • by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:05PM (#10083764) Homepage Journal

    The article says "Blade Runner was the runaway favourite in our poll." followed by 2001 which was "A very close second". Which is it?
  • Dark Star (Score:4, Interesting)

    by StarWynd (751816) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:10PM (#10083793)
    What?! No Dark Star [wikipedia.org]? As the wiki says, "Four lonely, stoned hippy astronauts are adrift in space, have several adventures and find various ways to relieve their boredom." Classic. Just classic.
  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:11PM (#10083808) Homepage
    Science fiction always gets a bad rap in a lot of literary criticism. Part of the reason is that some of the ideas are so bare, so obvious. But I think this is what makes it so powerful. Blade Runner (at least to me) has always been about the unfairness of life; specifically, it's too damn short. It's very clear that the replicants are lots more human than the real ones. They burn brighter, bleed more, feel pain more. They're the Ubermensch, the hero, the essential human. The "humans" are passionless and evil. There's this idea that their short lifespan is a consequence of their superiority. If this was the reason then it's maybe not too tragic. However, it isn't a consequence of nature that dooms them; rather, it's an arbitrary decision by their creators that their lifespans would be shorted. This idea kicks me.

    The other reason I enjoy Blade Runner is that science is not the scapegoat. Almost every other movie I've seen has made scientists and intellectuals (not that I count myself as either) as "evil". Technology running rampant destroying the earth is a common theme (Terminator, various post-Apocalyptic movies, "mad scientist" blandness). Even movies that celebrate the triumph of the intellect eventually bow down to superstition (the scene of an Aborigine praying to unseen gods to help a lunar module land safely sticks in my mind).

    So yeah, I'm glad that Blade Runner is up there.
  • "Best?" (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:12PM (#10083811) Homepage Journal
    Ok, i could understand their idea get the idea that Matrix is more martial arts than sci-fi, or Star Wars that could be located anywhere, or that Alien is more terror.

    But there are a lot of not named movies that plays with very hard sci-fi topics, i.e. 12 Monkeys with time (or Terminator or even Back to the future), or Avalon with virtual reality, or more topics covered by the science fiction concept or even Dark City.

    But also, they are movies, not just must touch some advanced scientific or science fiction topics, but must be good as a movie... ok, Blade Runner is good, but there are a lot that were don't even named there.

    And if well is the author behind Blade Runner, the article don't even names P.K.Dick, that have a bunch of really good sci-fi movies based on his books and tales, maybe him alone should have most top ranked movies in their selection.

  • of what is science fiction... How can Raiders of the Lost Ark not be in the top 10?! And, what about Tremors??
  • by darnok (650458) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:16PM (#10083855)
    Buckaroo Bonzai
  • by Khomar (529552) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:19PM (#10083876) Journal

    Here are a couple missing sci-fi films that should be considered. They were not exactly blockbusters, but they made for good sci-fi.

    • Gattaca [imdb.com] - This was a very interesting sci-fi that looks into the ramifications of cracking the genetic code. Can you get insurance or a good job if you have the wrong genes?
    • Minority Report [imdb.com] - An interesting view of future law enforcement and questions of infallibility.
    • A.I. [imdb.com] - While the last 20 minutes was suspect, the previous couple hours were quite good and offered an interesting look at the "humaness" of advanced robots.

    I know I am forgetting a whole host of other options, but at least this is a start.

  • by Phoenix666 (184391) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:33PM (#10083978)
    All the special effects and futuristic themes notwithstanding, what separates the neat from the incredible is what a sci-fi film says about the human condition. It's no surprise that Blade Runner is so highly placed--it deals with the question of what really makes us human. Likewise the other films in that poll pretty much do that too.

    Perhaps one measure of a truly great sci-fi film is the extent to which it becomes a popular metaphor afterward. For that reason, unlike others here, I'm not surprised Matrix is on the list. I hear people make reference to it a lot.

  • I can't believe... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hunterx11 (778171) <hunterx11&gmail,com> on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:44PM (#10084047) Homepage Journal
    They didn't mention Metropolis? That would be like having a "top-ten films of all time" without Birth of a Nation. Hell, Fritz Lang wasn't even racist. But in all seriousness, try naming a sci-fi film that doesn't take something from Metropolis.
  • History (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hwestiii (11787) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:46PM (#10084062) Homepage
    I'm clearly dating myself, but I saw Blade Runner in its first theatrical release, and its my recollection that it was pretty much a disappointment to most people.

    It was Ridley Scott's follow up to Alien, and it just doesn't have the narrative drive and shock value of Alien. Of course it grows on you with repeated viewings, but it really didn't go over very well initially. What really cinched Blade Runner's reputation was the advent of home video. People got a chance to look at it again and really appreciate it. I know I do. It is one of my favorite movies.

    Not more favorite than 2001: A Space Odessey, however. I'd quibble about the 1 - 2 placement. I vastly prefer 2001. I don't know exactly what it is, but the combination of impressionism and cold realism is completely gripping. Its never quite the same movie twice. Its driven by ambiguity and it is exceptionally beautiful. Nothing else even comes close.
    • Re:History (Score:4, Informative)

      by thrash242 (697169) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @10:48PM (#10084800)
      Yes, it was a financial failure and got very bad reviews from critics. It was only later that it was accepted as a classic.

      If you are a fan of the movie and want to know everything you could possibly know about it, check out the book Future Noir. It covers the making of Blade Runner and it's quite interesting.
  • Brazil? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by possible (123857) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:54PM (#10084120)
    I agree with Bladerunner as the top pick, but I thought Brazil [imdb.com] should have been in there (how can you pick Terminator over Brazil?). Oh well.
  • Contact (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fractal Dice (696349) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @08:54PM (#10084121) Journal

    If I were to add a film to this list, it would likely be "Contact". The opening shot is the best explanation of "space is big" I've ever seen, it deals with the big science-vs-religion flamewar in a way that seems respectful to both sides and it says an amazingly large number of things about science. I didn't like the movie at first, but it's really grown on me the more I've thought back to it.

    (although I do think it should have ended at the limo - that's when it had made its point and that's when it was done).

  • by code_rage (130128) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @09:02PM (#10084173)
    Can anyone explain how the replicants are physiologically superior to regular humans, yet the only way to identify them is to ask them stupid questions while videotaping their irises?

    Wouldn't some sort of DNA test, or blood protein assay, work a lot easier?

    (But then there wouldn't be much of a movie, would there.)

    "Do Androids Dream..." was written in 1968, but the idea of genetic assays might not have been known to Philip K Dick. But the film was not until 1982...

    Bonus points if you answer the following questions:
    1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
    2. What do Electric Sheep dream of?
  • by M. Baranczak (726671) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @09:41PM (#10084438)
    It's bad enough it got passed over at the 1959 Oscars, now this?
  • Gattaca (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HarveyBirdman (627248) on Thursday August 26, 2004 @09:49PM (#10084493) Journal
    Good projection of current trends and technologies, a study of how they may affect society and the story of how one man fought back over those adversities. Extremely underrated.

    "What's your fucking number?" is still used amongst my circle of friends. :-)

    And Soylent Green, which has three of the most chilling scenes ever filmed for an SF film.

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