Roque Renteria, Union philosopher
FILMS THAT SURPASS THEIR SOURCE MATERIAL
Whenever I talk to people about adaptations, they seem to ardently believe that when a book gets the Hollywood treatment it is destined to be an inauthentic misfire. I typically agree with this sentiment and I find it to be a truism. (Which reminds me, The Great Gatsby film that is coming out next month will suck. No question about it.) However, I think there are a few exceptions. Obviously, or else I would not have written this article. Anyway, the movie that I wholeheartedly believe surpasses the book in quality is Ridley Scott's sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner.
Believe it or not, Blade Runner was a book before it became the greatest sci-fi film ever made. It was originally Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. Dick is widely regarded as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century and is one of the few writers whose work translates well onto the screen. His credits include: Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, and Minority Report. All of these are excellent films by my standards.
But going back to Blade Runner, this movie is something else. It is one of the most thought-provoking movies of all time. Watching this movie makes me question my own existence and puts me in a Cartesian state of mind. Sometimes I wonder whether or not I am an actual person or a replicant designed by the Tyrell Corporation. Hallucinogens also do this, but I prefer the internal crisis incited by the film because Blade Runner does not leave me hungry afterwards and that is good because there is hardly ever anything to eat in my fridge and I do not want to make trips down to the grocery store when I am hungry. I get distracted because I am overwhelmed by starvation and end up getting a lot of unhealthy crap that I should not eat. A great movie replaces the need for exogenous substances. Blade Runner is that great movie.
But do not take my word for it. Here is what Stephen Minger, a stem cell biologist at King's College London, had to say: "Blade Runner is the best movie ever made. It was so far ahead of its time and the whole premise of the story—what is it to be human and who are we, where we come from? It's the age-old questions." There is no doubt that Blade Runner has many philosophical themes but these claims are not legitimized until you hear them from an expert who has studied these subjects extensively as opposed to a punk-ass college kid who vomits verbal diarrhea onto paper. The comparison is unreal.
In closing, do not bother reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? because there is a better alternative. Although, to be fair, I have only read about half of the novel. I could not get through the entire thing. I am sorry, but once you have the cinematic image of Blade Runner stored in your mind it is hard to picture the same world when reading the Dick’s work. I might be wrong (I usually am) so disregard the first sentence of this paragraph and check out both the movie and the book and decide for yourself. And while doing so, you will realize that humans are capable of manipulating their environment through their understanding of science and this knowledge can lead to either progress or dystopia, depending on who holds the power—the people or the corporations? And analyses like these are how I earned the title of philosopher.