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film news

Happy Birthday Roy Batty

Posted by Patrick Sauriol on Friday, January 8, 2016

If you recall the scene in Blade Runner where Harrison Ford's detective is shown the replicants that he's hunting, you might remember that the birthdays (or "incept dates") were also given. Today is January 8, 2016 -- the on-screen incept date for th replicants' leader, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer).

It's a piece of sci-fi geekdom trivia, but also a telling reminder of two things:

1. We're almost caught up to the time when Blade Runner (released in 1982) takes place: November 2019. At the time of the movie's release, 2019 was a long time away, nearly four decades in the future. I'm sure that the filmmakers thought, when 2019 rolls around, who's gonna remember some brief mention of the birthdate of the film's villain?

Yeah. Well...

2. Acknowledging the rollaround of on-screen sci-fi dates is getting to be more of a trend. Last year we bore witness to the year that Back to the Future II's future scenes take place in, and there were countless online articles comparing the real world's 2015 oto BTTF2's 2015. (The general consensus was we really need hoverboards, stat.)

Movies have become the momomyths of today's culture. In this age of the internet and digital downloads and TV shows that eat pop culture to produce storylines, I'm sure that when the year 2273 rolls around the media of that time will spawn a thousand news stories about it being the year that V'Ger visits Earth (as seen in the events of Star Trek: The Motion Picture), or that in the year 2047 a spaceship called the Event Horizon will take an unfortunate trip through a space warp. This is the world we live in now, and the self-referential culture we're a part of. (And no, the irony that I'm writing an article about Roy Batty's birthday as seen in Blade Runner doesn't escape me.)

For me, it's interesting to take note of the passing of these dates because it marks an occasion to reflect on what people in the past thought the future could be like. It's more important to note that, in Blade Runner's universe, we were going to be using flying cars called spinners or genetically grown slaves would be used, or that people would be escaping a nightmarish Earth existence to live on off-world colonies.

As the dates of the cinematic future continue to creep slowly towards our present day and then fade into the rearview mirror, what will future articles on this subject turn to the discussion about why we're not living in a future of advanced robots, interstellar spaceship travel and cool hoverboards?

It's more of a challening subject to think about, but no less unsettling than wishing happy birthday to an artificial man that killed a lot of imaginary folk so he could be free.

OK, enough of the academic talk. Here's the best moment from Blade Runner, Roy Batty's final words about life, set to Vangelis' awesome music...

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe..."

 

 

 

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