Sara Campbell Remembered

This a post about Sara Campbell, a fan of Blade Runner way back in 1982 who I never met but whose name to me is forever linked to the film, from a letter in a magazine and a published review by her. It’s based partly on a post I did for my old blog back in 2008, which I’ve reposted further below, with some other material. Consider it a Directors Cut of my original post, or perhaps more fittingly, a Final Cut.

But first, as the post below was originally written almost eleven years ago now, a few thoughts to offer some perspective.

To be clear, I never met or knew Sara. All I know of her is her writing that I read in magazines back in 1982 and in online reprints of her fanzine CITYSPEAK, and later in anecdotes or commentary about her second-hand posted that was posted online over the years. I didn’t even learn of her death until many years after it. She is just a name, and the words she wrote that I read.

Films can be more than just films, more than pieces of entertainment, more than pieces of art. Well, yes, most of them are ‘just’ films/entertainment but sometimes they make a connection, achieve a particular resonance, particularly when you are growing up. They can be seminal events/experiences, markers of memory and of one’s past, bubbles of spacetime later revisited by rewatching the film. That’s how it sometimes is for me, whenever I rewatch Blade Runner, or at least the original 1982 version. It doesn’t feel quite the same rewatching the Final Cut of 2007- that isn’t the Blade Runner of my youth. My Blade Runner is the mistake-ridden, mind bogglingly intense version I saw in the cinema back in 1982 and again in 1983. The version I had on a pirate VHS tape given to me in Christmas 1983 that I damn near wore out with religious reverence.

Whenever I watch that flawed version, which thankfully we still have on the SE box-set of 2007, with its continuity errors and cables pulling up spinner cars, other than finding it almost unwatchable now and actually even ‘broken’, I’m swept back to being sixteen in September 1982, and the world I lived in then. Back in 1982  Blade Runner was an incredible experience which had a profound impact on me. But of course it was for many other people too, long before it became a cult movie or a reappraised classic popular movie. We just didn’t have the internet to spread the word and share our thoughts, we fans were isolated like lonely islands separated by great distance. The world was really quite different back then. We relied on magazines and fanzines to share our thoughts and interests in ways forums make instant and easy now. So anyway. There was this Blade Runner fan, by the name of Sara Campbell…

First, my words from my 2008 post, written, at the time, pretty much 26 years to the day that I had first seen Blade Runner…

blade1982e

Remembering Sara Campbell…

The other evening I was browsing through some old film magazines and picked up the Fall, 1979 issue of CINEFANTASTIQUE, which featured ALIEN on the cover. Old magazines are fantastic time capsules, particularly those from before the Internet and before industry marketing teams turned the mags into publicity rags. But what particularly interested me was the letters section. It’s here you get the real meat of both the mag and the times in which it was published. Something like the forums that litter the Internet today, the letters columns of those old mags really give an insight into what people thought back in the day.

So I noticed a short letter berating the editor of CINEFANTASTIQUE for his negative editorials regards the popular science fiction films of the time- namely STAR WARS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and ALIEN. “I keep running across articles devoted to films which you feel are beneath your standards,” the letter stated. The writer of the letter contended that rather than being the film magazine with a ‘Sense of Wonder’ as proclaimed on the editorial, it was instead one with “a sense of hypocrisy”. Indeed, the writer of the letter noted that CINEFANTASTIQUE evidently believed that “STAR WARS was too much fun, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS is nice, but its aliens too cute, and ALIEN is too yucchy and besides, it reminds you of a still you saw from  PLANET OF THE VAMPIRES.”

The response from the editor, the late Frederick S Clarke, argued that he did indeed have a sense of wonder, still feeling the buzz from watching 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY back in 1968. He just didn’t seem to think much of the then-modern offerings.

I noted with some irony that I have a similar feeling nowadays, loving STAR WARS and ALIEN as old classics and disliking all the modern cgi-dominated mindless dreck we have now. Times change and yet they don’t. But what really struck me was the name of the writer of the letter- Sara Campbell. I knew that name.

Sara Campbell will forever be linked, in an albeit minor way, with BLADE RUNNER lore. Few people appreciate the fact that when BR was released, it really bombed in spectacular fashion. I think it grossed only $17 million on a $24 million production budget that needed $50 million to break even. No-one saw it and generally critical opinion was very negative. Back in late 1982 the film was over, dead, finished, and the industry was very different back then. Films didn’t turn up on £20 DVDs and Blu-Rays after four months, they disappeared for years. Films were only kept alive by their fans, who read magazines about them, collected memorabilia and the like. There was no Internet to gather together the thoughts and love of fans of movies in forums.

Here in England I watched BR dumbstruck, fell head over heels in love what has always been since then my favourite film, and watched in dismay as the film faded away out of public consciousness. It was a Cult movie back when the word Cult meant something. When in College a few years later, a lecturer looking through my art folder saw an image I had drawn from BR and waxed lyrical about the film… I remember feeling how odd it was to actually meet someone other than my mate Andy who shared my high opinion of the film. Of course years later thanks to video, BR became popular, the Directors Cut got released, critics rewrote their opinion of the film… but for those of us who saw it back in 1982, I honestly think BR feels different, special in a way later fans could never understand.

Sara Campbell was one of those fans from 1982. Just as I was blown away over here in an old ABC cinema that had known better days, over in America, in Oshkoshi, Wisconsin, so was Sara, someone I would never know or meet but who shared with me a love of a special film. Sara got together with a few friends and they made a fanzine about BR, titled CITYSPEAK. You can find the first issue online if you run its title through a search engine. It’s a fascinating window into a time when BR was something new, before it became imitated, before it became popular. Back when it was something special, almost secret. Sara’s love of the film shines through. Reading CITYSPEAK I’m dragged back to those old days, how it felt back then. Later when the film became popular and the book RETROFITTING BLADE RUNNER came out, Sara’s name was mentioned as one of the first voices to popularise and analyse the film. It was the first time I had read about her and her fanzine devoted to BR.

I never got the opportunity to know or meet Sara on Internet forums, share memories of those golden days of 1982. Sara never got to see her favourite film in either its flawed Directors Cut version or completed Final Cut. Having produced three issues of CITYSPEAK, Sara died in 1985.

But it’s funny how someone can live on, in the thoughts recorded in letters to magazines or self-produced fanzines, so that someone halfway across the world who loved the same movie can share those thoughts and opinions, and wonder what they might have thought of the films later renaissance. I guess Sara would have been as excited about the Final Cut as I was last year- I guess she would have loved it. Its a damned shame she never saw it.

So how odd the strange coincidence after all these years, reading through an old film mag and stumbling upon that letter by Sara Campbell some three years before BR came around? How weird is that? Anyway, I urge any fans of BLADE RUNNER to run CITYSPEAK through a search engine and read that fanzine and re-live that buzz from 1982, or if they saw the film years afterwards on video, learn what it was like back then for the original fans.

blade1982So that was my old post. Funny thing was, I neglected to mention Sara’s review published in an issue of Fantastic Films which was, at the time, the first serious critical evaluation of the film that I ever read, a precursor to all the many thousands of analyses and opinions that would be written about the film over the years. A few days ago I stumbled upon my dog-eared and worn copy of that issue and saw Sara’s review again, marvelled at it and decided that I really should resurrect my old post about her, especially as that old blog is lost now, its website long retired. Which is why this post is here now- and I note the odd synchronicity that this month now marks 37 years since I first saw Blade Runner in that old ABC cinema on a Saturday afternoon. 

Finally, here is a moving  memoriam for Sara that I found a few years ago on the internet, from CITYSPEAK. Written by someone who knew Sara I add this partly as a footnote to my ramblings, but more importantly as a token effort to assist in keeping her memory alive in a way that my own writing, as someone who never knew her, could never really manage. As I noted earlier, for some of us films are more than films, and while films can live forever as moments frozen in time on celluloid or digital hard drive, they leave us all behind, eventually. We are the tears in the rain eventually lost to time, but the films we love remain. Well, here’s to remembering Sara, who for original fans like me, while Blade Runner will always remain, so does she.

In Memoriam: Sara Jane Campbell

February 3, 1959 – August 20, 1985

Sara Jane Campbell is dead.

She entered Doctor’s Hospital in Manhattan on August 5, 1985, for major-but-routine surgery. The operation was uneventful. Sara was doing fine. She was going to come home on Sunday, August 12th.

At 5:30 in the morning on Saturday, August 11th, the phone rang. It was Sara’s doctor. He needed to reach her parents. Now.

Because at 4:00 a.m. Sara Campbell, 26 years old, young, healthy, and with a brilliant future ahead of her as a writer, as a human being, had suffered a massive stroke. The right side of her body was paralyzed. She was unable to speak.

She was transferred to the neurological unit at Mount Sinai. When I arrived at the hospital, frantic and terrified, Sara set up a system of gestures and hand-movements that enabled her to express herself just fine, even without speech. She played a practical joke on me. I, always her straight man, fell for it. Sara made me do something I’d thought impossible under the circumstances — laugh.

I thought — I knew — it was only a matter of time before Sara recovered. She was young. She was healthy. Dammit, she was Sara. She was my friend. We had plans.

CITYSPEAK was almost ready — she’d just finished her novel, MEMORIES OF GREEN, for inclusion in the zine. CITYSPEAK was half laid-out; as soon as the last stories were in, it would be done. Then Sara and I were going to finish our LADYHAWKE novel. And we were going to collaborate on a novel set in our shared BLADERUNNER universe — we planned to take it pro. We were going to travel. We had just finished redecorating our apartment —

This couldn’t be happening. Not really. Not to someone I knew, someone I loved.

Tomorrow she’d be fine.

Between noon and one o’clock on August 11th, Sara started running a high fever. The paralysis spread.

The next day she was in a coma, on full life-support.

It was the day she was supposed to come home: August 12th.

She never came home.

On August 20, 1985, Sara Jane Campbell, aged 26, was taken off life-support in accordance with her own wishes and at her parents’ request. Without machines forcing “life” to continue, her heart stopped. Her breathing stopped.

Sara was dead.

I an a writer. Words are my tools; I always thought they were poetic, eloquent, powerful. I prided myself on my ability to make them convey what I wished: actions, emotions, character. Life.

I was wrong. Words are empty things; words are useless. How can words on a page describe Sara to all of you who now will never meet her?

She was five-foot-ten. (She had a dimple that she hated.) She had short blonde hair. (She had prehensile toes.) She was a poet, an idealist. (She rescued a stray kitten and named her Zuul, after the refrigerator demon in GHOSTBUSTERS.) She was a writer. (She was a friend.)

She was my friend.

No, that’s wrong again. These days the word ‘friend’ describes everyone from your co-worker to your dentist; a word overworked until it has lost all meaning. Sara was not my ‘friend’. She was part of me.

And nowhere in all the words in the world are words that can tell you truly about this sister not of my blood. None to describe the loss — a loss not just of Sara, but of myself. None to describe the waste — or to help understand why a brave, brilliant young woman with so much to give was not allowed more time in which to give it.

It has taken me a long time to keep my last promise to Sara. In the hospital, while she was still conscious, I told her I would make sure CITYSPEAK was published.

Here is CITYSPEAK.

I hope you like it, Sara.

Anne Elizabeth Zeek
August 1985/January 1988

 

 

Last week: Ancient (1980s) Artifacts

raiders2Last week I did some wife-mandated cleaning in the garage. I have a storage box in there sitting against a far wall hidden by, er, other boxes and piles of miscellania (it’s a wonder we manage to park a car in that garage). I suppose the box should have, you know, garagey things in it like tools or paint tins or something, but instead its got books, magazines, tapes, cds… stuff that Claire has cleared away and put in there. Basically anything I’ve been looking for unsuccessfully for the past few years, it’s all in there. Opening it was like opening the Arc of the Covenant and screaming “its beautiful!”

Cue my face melting like a Nazi caught out by his blind confidence. Well, in a way, anyway- some of the stuff in there certainly messed me up, books for instance, that I cannot ever remember buying, let alone reading, and old xbox games that likewise I cannot remember owning or ever playing, at all. Its like I’ve found stuff that belonged to someone else. Its a little disconcerting, but this post isn’t about my frazzled marbles or ensuing memory loss, but I think that might be a later post regards some Blade Runner-linked examination about what is memory and what is real.

So instead, here’s a post about some of the magazines that were stored in there, particularly a few copies of Fantastic Films, a magazine that I’ve written about before but which I absolutely adored back in the day. A sort of poor-man’s Cinefantastique, the mag was at times beautifully designed for its day and at least turned up in my local newsagents (Cinefantastique was the best, but reserved for speciality comics stores and naturally cost more).

P1090842 (2)Looking through these mags was a strange experience, having not seen them in years but instantly familiar, having read and re-read them so many times over the years. Sure they look a bit beat-up and smell a little like old second-hand bookstores do. Back before the Internet, kiddies, this is what us geeks used to do- go to stores, buy magazines, read them, then re-read them, and maybe re-read them some more. We’ve gotten so used to instant news now it’s a little odd to realise this used to be how we found out about new movies, reading these monthly magazines, and probably it was all old news long before we ever got to read them. I used to read magazines like this, finding details about films sometimes months after their release in America but that didn’t really matter,as the world was slower back then, and often it would be before or even concurrent to the film’s release over here (Blade Runner didn’t turn up here until September, and E.T. didn’t get released until Christmas 1982 long after most had seen it on pirate VHS copies).

P1090843 (2)Naturally its those issues that concerned a little obscure film titled Blade Runner that are the most dog-eared and re-read copies. The issue with Elliot and E.T. on the cover is the one I used to pore over for years, because it had an analysis of Blade Runner by Sara Campbell that I used to read so many times, like it was some kind of Holy scripture. You have to bear in mind that Blade Runner was for many years simply forgotten, a box-office failure that most people had written off. Sara’s inciteful essay was a respectful and fascinating insight by someone who loved the film as much as I did. Sara would go on to found Cityspeak, a Blade Runner fanzine I wouldn’t learn of until years later, and unfortunately passed away not long after, but as a post on my old blog years ago (that I will have to repost here sometime) will attest, I’ll always fondly remember Sara for this review and consider the sadness that she never saw the ‘proper’ Blade Runner that would have blown her away. Life is so unkind.

P1090845 (2)I must also mention a letter in the ‘Reactions’ section of the mag. By the time the issue went to press Blade Runner had already bombed Stateside and this particular letter reflected on that and praised the film. Titled ‘Blade Runner deserved better‘, I have to admit I read and re-read the letter so many times over the years. It was written by Irene Tumanov of Paylin, New Jersey, and bless you Irene wherever you are today (I hope you still love Blade Runner). Irene’s letter- well, maybe someday I’ll type out her letter here in its entirety. But here’s a taster:

“It is only too tragic that the year 2019 is indeed in the midst of us now. We must indeed be dehumanized if we should turn our noses away from such a beautiful film! Not only do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep they also dream of the immortality of such great cinema. I believe it a terrible waste that Blade Runner should be put out to pasture!”

Irene I hope you enjoyed the resurgence of Blade Runner and its rise to success, and the Directors Cut and later the Final Cut, and its eventual sequel. All surely impossible to have imagined back in 1982.

P1090844 (2)But what a summer that was, what a year for genre releases. I took a picture of the contents age of that issue of Fantastic Films, to just demonstrate what an extraordinary time that was. We may have seen better films since, but I don’t think we saw such a group of diverse and interesting genre films like that ever again- when they all come out over that summer in America, it must have been pretty exciting. This edition of Fantastic Films featured articles on  E.T., The Dark Crystal, Blade Runner, Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, Tron, The Thing, Poltergeist, Firefox, The Secret of Nimh, Creepshow… I’ve always considered that year to be the true reaction to the original Star Wars. Its a little sad that in all the years since, we didn’t really see another year quite like that- back then I thought every year was going to be like that. What a damned fool I was…

 

 

 

Blade Runner 2049: Have you ever seen a miracle?

2049d2017.50: Blade Runner 2049

He would have loved this film, so I’ll begin by paraphrasing the late John Brosnan: Blade Runner 2049 is a masterpiece, much to my surprise. So too,  I am sure, would Sara Campbell, and I just wanted to mention them both, for this film has been 35 long years coming, and not everyone who deserves to see it are still here to do so. There is a sadness knowing that, a reminder of the sense of mortality that permeates both (both! Still can’t get my head around that!) Blade Runner films, and a reminder of how lucky we are now, how remarkable this is. This film, Blade Runner 2049, should not exist.

Where to begin? Well, have you seen 2049? If not, stop reading now, go see the movie. You need to see it and it seems the film needs your patronage. And you really don’t need to read the spoilers that follow. If you have seen the film, you won’t mind the spoilers, and I hope you can give me your time, share with me my thoughts, offer some thoughts back. Sitting comfortably? This could be a long post. Time enough, as Batty might say.

First of all, I really have to say how strange an experience it was. Anybody who has read this blog will be aware of how much of a big deal the original Blade Runner is for me. I first saw the film in September 1982, and it remains the most intense cinematic experience of my life. Thursday night may have been the most bizarre cinematic experience. You see, Blade Runner has been my favourite film for some 35 years – years in which it grew from box-office failure and obscure cult film to a video favourite and critical darling. For all those years until just awhile ago, the very idea of a sequel was ridiculous.

Yet here it was. I’d pre-booked my tickets for the first evening of its release, and was going with my long-term friend Andy who had been there with me back on that Saturday afternoon in 1982 when we saw the film for the first time. The tickets were 75p each back then, markedly rather more now. 35 years is half a lifetime ago and much had changed, but we both still shared our love of this particular film, and here we were for its sequel.

Of course I was nervous. The film had been the subject of much hype and early word on Twitter last week was frankly ecstatic. But what do critics and people who weren’t even born back in 1982 know? A good film doesn’t necessarily mean a good Blade Runner film, was this film made for modern audiences or for the fans who have lived this film since 1982? I cannot possibly explain the impact the film had back in 1982, in just the same way I cannot possibly explain the impact of the opening Star Destroyer shot in Star Wars on audiences back in 1977/1978 to people now. Films are of their time and while they may impress years later…  it’s hard to recapture that impact. I consider myself lucky to have experienced the original in 1982. It was of my time. It’s in my blood.

So here we are 35 years later and watching Blade Runner 2049 was an utterly bizarre, almost out-of-body experience. Yes I enjoyed it, I was fascinated and awed by it, but also there was an almost detached point of view of it, from outside almost. Interrogating it like some Voight-Kampf test of it being a ‘real’ Blade Runner film as opposed to some second-rate modern Hollywood replicant. The relief, of course, was overwhelming. 2049  is indeed a great Blade Runner film, but more than that, its a great sequel, a film that both informs and expands upon the original, in the same way as The Empire Strikes Back with Star Wars, or indeed The Godfather Pt.2. Watching Blade Runner again in the future might actually be improved by having seen 2049. Imagine that. 2049 might actually make Blade Runner better.

I’ve been thinking of Philip K Dick and of his astonishment at seeing twenty minutes of Blade Runner footage shortly before his death where he couldn’t work out how they got those images out of his brain.  For the past few days the film has been rattling around in my head as if I have been in some kind of post-traumatic fugue, trying to make sense of it. Was this how PKD felt when he had seen that Blade Runner footage? It’s not that I saw things Thursday night that I had imagined before, it was simply that they existed at all. Blade Runner 2049 is… well, in some ways it should not exist. It’s a near three-hour long arthouse movie made with a blockbuster budget, and a sequel to that strange dark sci-fi film that flopped spectacularly over three decades earlier. More than that, it’s a cinematic love-letter to all the films fans for all those years. And it’s quite brilliant.

2049fTo be clear, 2049 is not perfect, it’s not without its faults. But 2049 is also quite extraordinary. It raises more questions, cleverly sidesteps others. We are no longer simply asking how real or human a Replicant is, but also how real or human a hologram, or an AI can be? Can an AI fall in love? Can it feel empathy for another? Can it dream of electric sheep?

The film has the pace of a dream, is slow and hypnotic… shots, scenes, linger… maybe too long, I’m not sure, but it’s a long film and modern audiences get impatient with that. Not me, anyway, as it harks back to the Golden Days of ‘Seventies American cinema when American film was, well, better. But yes, it’s long, and its pace would seem to be utterly alien to most cinemagoers today. As expected, everything is beautifully staged and the cinematography is sublime- surely Roger Deakins will get his Oscar at long last. Speaking of Oscar….well, dare I say it, Harrison Ford actually turns in a performance I thought he was incapable of. It might even be the greatest performance of his career, oddly confounding any suspicion that any Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod might be a consolation gesture for that long career. The guy probably deserves to actually win it.

In my last post I mentioned that The Force Awakens was like a comfort blanket for Star Wars fans- what I meant was that the film contained familiar faces, music, places, objects, and was complete with a familiar plot that was like a greatest-hits package of all that had come before it. The whole film is designed to please, to wrap fans in a nostalgic return to childhood while lapsing into the calculated stupidity of so many contemporary blockbusters.

2049 isn’t like that. Yes its a Blade Runner film -sing the praises from the the highest rooftops!-but it’s quite utterly disturbing, particularly for Blade Runner fans.. well, certainly for me anyway. When that crate was dug up and its contents put on display in the LAPD morgue, I knew immediately whose bones they were. I just knew and it cut me deep. It was Rachel. This was Rachel, her skull…

For 35 years Sean Young’s Rachel has been frozen in time, a vision of utter beauty, a replicant of impossible perfection, the magical chemistry in celluloid of a beautiful actress, Jordan Cronenweth’s gorgeous cinematography, stylish make-up and costume design. I have seen Sean Young many times in films since but she never really looked or sounded or acted quite like Rachel. For 35 years she has existed in that one film, a creation as timeless and permanent as any iconic performances of Rita Hayworth or Marilyn Monroe. But here she was, a skull, some bones. It felt brutal, cold.

I’m not certain why, but throughout the film that really creeped me out. That feeling seemed to inform every scene. A sense of horror, of mortality, of melancholy. Later on when Jared Leto’s enigmatic (under-used?) villain Neander Wallace held Rachel’s skull in his hand before Deckard, it felt like something utterly monstrous. And when the inevitable happened, and that 35-year-old vision walked into the scene as if 35 years had never happened and the impossible had been given form, I nearly freaked out. My jaw dropped. I think I may have moaned. This was Pure Cinema. It was like a nightmare. I saw the pain and horror etched on Harrison Ford’s face and the torture was complete, palpable. I felt it too.

It was horrible. It was perfect. This film, I realised, should not exist.

And I’m thinking again about PKD’s reaction to seeing that Blade Runner footage. His astonishment. His reaction: “How is this possible?”

2049bHow is this possible that 35 years after Blade Runner, they made this huge slow enigmatic study of the nature of humanity and existence? The protagonist is a Replicant who has a relationship with a hologram. Two artificial intelligences sharing… love? Debating the validity of implanted memories? Discussing the possibility of being ‘real’? It’s a genius twist of the original film- here we  know that Officer K (a brilliantly nuanced Ryan Gosling) is a replicant, but does that make him any less real? As the films events unfold and he finds cause to question his implanted memories, and begins to think he may not be more human than human, but actually human, if not some kind of hybrid, the sadness of the eventual truth is heartbreaking.  And yet, like Batty in the earlier film, he reaches some self-awareness, some humanity that is undeniable. What is human anyway?

(This film even has a great joke, a funny one: as he considers Deckard’s dog, K asks, “Is he real?” and Deckard deadpans “Ask Him.” I guffawed. But that joke sums up the film. Is it real? What is real?)

We live in thrall to technologies intended to serve. People cannot seem to live without their smartphones. The hologram Joi is the natural extension of the smartphone, what it may evolve into. An AI assistant, a diversion, a replacement for human company. We may never have the flying cars of Blade Runner, but I suspect AI like Joi is inevitable- indeed, barring the holographic flight of fancy, it’s almost already here. But is it real, can it feel, can it aspire to be human?

Consider this:  an Hologram AI has purchased/arranged a pleasure-model Replicant to have sex with the Holograms owner/lover who is a Replicant itself (himself/herself/itself, how does that work with Replicants?). While I try to get my head around that, add this to the mix: the pleasure model that Joi hired is part of the resistance/uprising who uses the opportunity to plant a tracker in K’s coat, so is Joi a part of that resistance all along? Is K being steered by unseen forces all along?

2049eI really need to see the film again. All sorts of thoughts and observations have been rattling around in my head for the days since. A sign of a good film is one that lingers in your head. I am sure 2049 will reward repeat viewings, possibly for years. But I really need to see it again on the big screen before it slips across to disc (the thought that six months from now I will be used to simply rewatching it at home whenever I like is a frankly salivating prospect).

They show you someone weaving memories together in this film. Its breathtaking, like fashioning dreams with a strange (very PKD) device that looks part-camera, part bus conductor ticket machine. They show a Replicant having her nails done whilst orchestrating rocket fire from some automated weapons platform hanging unseen in the sky. A giant hologram selling an app steps out of the skyline to accost our protagonist who has already loved and lost that product, the giant hologram’s blank unfeeling stare utterly at odds with the loving sincerity of the eyes that he loved.  A wooden horse replaces the origami unicorn of the previous film, but seems to represent the same question: what is human? Can you trust your memories in a world that can have them woven like dreams and implanted? What is the meaning of the final shots where a dying K stares up at the falling snow and watches it fall into his hand, while Dr. Stelline in her glass world nearby fashions memories of snow falling out of nowhere?

This film should not exist.

Sadly, as I write this it seems the Box-Office for the film has been very disappointing, particularly in America. I feel a sense of history repeating, and it seems awfully unfair that the bravery in making this film so sincere and ‘honest’ to the original won’t be rewarded financially, and we won’t get a third film. Not that we should even measure quality by box office anyway, or that we even need a third film, but its seems cruel that, when we finally get a quality adult sci fi film, it stumbles at the box office, as if we’re being haunted by the lessons of 35 years ago all over again. In a genre swamped by huge empty-headed spectacle or superhero comic movies… Well, it’s very frustrating and quite utterly depressing and disappointing. 2049 deserves better from audiences, but at least it got the love of (most) critics. So it’s doing better than Blade Runner there, at any rate.

The question still rattles around in my head: this film should not exist, but it does. How is this possible? PKD would have loved that.