Book vs Movie: Blade Runner vs Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Welcome to our new recurring post: Book vs. movie! Unlike our other recurring themes, this won’t be scheduled for a set date but rather will be posted when the inspiration strikes. We’re book lovers so chances are we’ll be biased toward the books, but there are several cases we can think off when we’ve preferred the movie to the book. I’ll start us off with our first battle pairing. We hope you chime in with your thoughts!
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick
Published in: 1968
Literary Awards: Nebula Award Nominee 1968
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Find it here: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is set in a post-apocalyptic San Francisco. The world has been destroyed by World War Terminus and a dust that attacks human fertility and brain function. As a result, most humans have abandoned earth for new colonies like Mars.
Rick Deckard is a bounty hunter, charged with hunting down and retiring (killing) androids that have escaped from Mars and come to Earth. To do so, he uses an empathy test that measures empathic reactions to various scenarios since androids are unable to experience true empathy.
What makes Deckard’s job more difficult is that there are androids with false memories who believe they really are human. They live and work as humans and they are almost good enough to pass the empathy test.
The book questions what it means to be human and what empathy actually is. I found fascinating Dick’s focus on the role of animals in the new world and how they became almost more important than humans. I also found the title to be ironic as Deckard owns an electric sheep that he pretends is real as a sign of his status.
This is a short read with a deep moral message about what makes us human and also how much technology could end up effecting our lives and making us less human. Emotion box anyone?
Blade Runner (1982)
Blade Runner may be based on the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? but the only real similarities are that key characters share the same names, Earth is becoming uninhabitable and there are human-like machines that pose a threat to the human population. After that, it’s a different story.
What I found interesting was use of language. In the book, “enemies” are referred to as androids while, in the film, they have become replicants (which sounds much more sinister). In the book Deckard is a bounty hunter, meaning his main concern is the Bbunty he will make from each “retirement.” In the film, he is a Blade Runner, a new kind of law enforcement officer –a title that removes the monetary motivation from his actions while also making his role sound dangerous.
The film was made as a sci-fi adventure and, as a result, the book’s slower, more considered pace had to be lost. Thus, instead of seeing one man struggle with his moral decisions and trying to define what makes him human, we end up with over-the-top “evil” replicants determined to gain a life for themselves at the expense of their human creators. We also lost the message about how human actions destroyed the world of animals — making them one of the world’s most important remaining signs of prestige.
The moral message of the film came not from the humans but from the replicants. They wanted to meet their creator, their God if you like, to demand he change the way he made them something which was ultimately impossible and which meant that, no matter what they did, they were always on borrowed time.
VERDICT: Winner = BOOK The film had to lose points because, to make a good action film, they had to rewrite my favourite parts of the book. It would be interesting to see this adapted as a slower-paced, more thoughtful film that stayed true to the book and the central message. That said if you have a couple of hours to kill and haven’t yet seen the film why not give it a go?
Jen’s verdict: It has been a long time since I saw the movie but I loved it as a child. As Book Worm mentioned, it’s hard to compare the two because they are completely different (and awesome). They are fun, action-filled, and highly entertaining. Harrison Ford was perfect and fits my vision of the book’s lead. That said, I have to give it to the book which was better for all the reasons BW mentioned in her review above. The movie is lacking the philosophical and ethical questions that are so expertly crafted in the book.
We want to hear from you! Have you read the book and seen the movie? What did you think of either one? Which do you think was better?