Blade Runner

Season Two kicks off with a look at Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and its connections to the 1982 future noir classic Blade Runner. This DSW episode also features original music from Peter Fey and a unique analysis of nature within both films. An ‘off-world colony’ shout out to Patty Koller, Peter Fey, Stephanie Frederick, Garth Linscott and Phil Congleton for their contributions to this episode! Thank you for all your help and support!

Worlds not-so-far apart... from Star Wars & Blade Runner.


  1. I understand some listeners are having difficulties posting their comment. I apologize for any inconvenience. Please feel free to post a comment on the Digging Star Wars Facebook page OR email your comment to Again, sorry for any posting issues.

  2. I always liked Blade Runner, but I always thought the replicants were more machine than organic- I had the idea that they were cyborgs. Trying to reaquaint myself with the movie, I consulted wikipedia for a synopsis and read the entry on replicants. Though the replicants are referred to as androids in the Philip K Dick Novel, Ridley Scott's daughter "...suggested the term "replicating" which is the process of duplicating cells for cloning. From that, one of them (both would later recall it was the other) came up with replicant and it was inserted into Hampton Fancher's screenplay." (from wikipedia)
    So replicants are more closely associated with clones, though the wiki article also goes on to mention that there is ambiguity as to whether replicants are machines or organic. Anyway, there might be fodder for a discussion on Episode II, where clones are bred to do the hard job of fighting a droid army, with something bred into them to execute order 66, much like the replicants were bred to do dangerous combat and mining work, with an inbred failsafe lifespan.

  3. Oh- part two of my comment is about nature. I loved the mention of Longwood Gardens as being a somewhat strange blend of nature and technology- yes, the place is full of wonderful exotic plants- contained and maintained by men and women using all sorts of modern technology. You can see nature/technology battles and mashups all through the Star Wars saga, seen in the very animal-like walkers used for troop transport and battle, or the bubbles that enable the Gungans to live underwater.
    Finally, I'd like to add my backing for getting outside more, and for getting our kids outside more. I remember long summer days of playing Matchbox cars and GI Joes out in our yards as kids. We also had nailed a seat high up in a tree so we could climb up and just sit...We played with what we found around us- sweet gum burrs (monkeyballs) were a favorite battle weapon. I love all my technology toys, but I'm recommitting to getting outside more. As a matter of fact, I just bought a book on wilderness survival, foraging wild plants, etc, and am going to try some "survival" camping in my backyard! Dandellion salad, anyone?

  4. Looking forward to Stephanie's notes because I'd like to hear more about the influence of Blade Runner on Star Wars and vice versa. To me, the worlds of A New Hope have more of that grungy, lived-in feel. Phantom Menace is far too pristine, and even when in Attack of the Clones they venture to the underworld, it never really is as palpable as the noir-ish L.A. of Blade Runner.

    There are a couple of "physical" connections between the two films: in Blade Runner, one of the buildings is a modified, homemade 5-foot model of the Millennium Falcon. And in The Phantom Menace, the sharpest of eyes may notice the presence of a couple of police "spinners," the VTOL vehicle Deckard uses to get around the city. Watch for them in the high angle shot of Amidala's ship on the landing platform.

  5. OK. A few replies to make…

    To Joshjani: Thanks for your posts. About your first post – it’s funny how once I started researching and writing the episode I had that “a-ha moment” of BR being tied more to Episode II than Episode I. My only defense is that when I conducted my research, Internet Movie Database pointed Ep1 to BR. So, I stuck with that – but I agree on how the clones are perhaps an even stronger tie to the replicant. In regards to the nature of the replicants, I thought of them as androids when I saw the movie in the 80s and think of them as more like clones today. I think the vagueness of WHAT they are works to the advantage of the story. About your second post – it’s not uncommon to hear fellow parents look fondly on their past in nature and lament their kids apparent lack of interest in what we thought was fun. I think our parents must have felt the same way (although, I’m quite envious of the stories of my Dad making a living in his teenage summers by sleeping right on the Jersey beach, collecting and selling bait, and having just enough cash to survive and date. Seems like those days are LONG gone!).

    To PBF: LOVE-LOVE-LOVE the connections you shared between BR and SW regarding ships from both stories having a visual presence in each film. Too cool! And yes, Ep1 is super-clean, but that also made it fun in regards to the comparison. As far as Steph notes, hang in there. I have multiple emails out to her but I’m afraid the same technical difficulties (a.k.a. the busy life of modern-day parents) that prohibited our recording time together may be infringing on her chance to email typed-up notes. In short, we’re doing our best.

  6. My favorite part is the discussion surrounding Chris' visit to Longwood Gardens. I always felt that a lot of the plants seen in the Star Wars films (although for me Yoda's home in Empire Strikes Back is more predominant), has a resemblance to a lot of the plants that you see in Longwood Gardens. Chris, maybe you could go visit the Baltimore Aquarium. That reminded me more of Jar Jar's world from Episode I.

  7. Great comment, pcongleton!

    The beauty of the Star Wars films is that the amount of the plantlife in the films grew and grewas the films were produced from 1977 on. In "A New Hope" (1977), the rebel base was planted smackdab in the middle of a Amazonian Rainforest. In "The Empire Strikes Back" (1980), Luke Skywalker spends a third of the film in the swamps of Degobah. By "Return of the Jedi" (1983), three-fourths of the film takes place in either a swamp (Degobah), woods (Endor) or the Tatooine desert with a man-eating plant (the Sarlacc). The Phanton Menace (1999) we've already covered in this episode of DSW. In "Attack of the Clones" (2002), George Lucas researched what the location flowers would look like on the terrace for famed "first kiss" scene and had his CG artists create the blossoms exactly as they would appear on the same plants on Earth. "Revenge of the Sith" is the ultimate plant culmination with the epic-scale flowers of Felucia, where the Jedi beauty Aayya Secure meets her doom. One listener even commented to me how cool it would be to get a "botanist's guide" to Star Wars. About the Baltimore Aquarium, that sounds cool, too.. Animal Planet ran a special a while back called the "Animals of Star Wars" that explored the traits of SW creatures and their ties to their real animals on our own planet. Worth checking out if you can catch it.

  8. whoo hoo! i'm here.

    well, let's wait no longer fellas. i was going to start out with how you can see the falcon in the neon city, and how there are spinners similar to the ones that you see near the queen's ship on coroscant in ep 1, but PBF beat me to it. ;) well done! but you forgot - both have scrolling text in the beginning...

    for days i thought about each movie in depth and i have pages of notes in my sketch book but what it really comes down to in both is that it's a simple greek tragedy. in a tragedy we all know that there should be:

    a. a downfall of our hero through a combination of fate or tragedy
    b. our hero need not die in the end (no matter how much he whines to the director hear that mr ford?), but must undergo a change in fortune
    c. achieve some kind of revelation - or recognition of through human fate or destiny.

    sound familiar?

    first bladerunner. i'm gonna borrow a bit of words from an interview with mr. dick.

    in his job of killing and hunting the replicants, deckard becomes more and more dehumanized. a crisis of faith if you will (this brings me to the religious similarities but hold on we'll get there). at the same time the reps are becoming more human. finally, deckard must question what he is doing and what really is the difference between himself and the reps. to take it further, who is he and is there a real difference between himself and the replicants?

    could this storyline run parallel to annakin's throughout the star wars saga? i think so. who is annakin? seriously. his mother claims there was no father, qui-gon claims it was the midichlorians (don't even get me started). but who is this child who can build human like droids and fly ships like no other pilot. truth is we don't know what he is.

    annakin's down fall or start of it could be in ep. 2 when he destroyed a whole village of sand people to save his mother. it's at this point he becomes the pawn of an evil leader, though he doesn't know it. i'm gonna bring it back to bladerunner now and have you think of the relationship between tyrell and deckard.

    of course they both don't die - well annakin is in pieces - but their fortunes do change. now annakin is vader and the right hand man of the empire. deckard goes straight and skips away with rachael.

    now c. when DV dies in ep. 6 he realizes he was not just a pawn or a robot of sorts - he was still human and to be human for him was love. (if you wanna get sappy) deckard's fate was left up in the air to the viewer - was he a replicant or human. only ridley scot thought he was a replicant. he saved rachael and left the murdering business.

    there's also the technology, the cloning and the religious symbolism as well. in every movie there's gotta be some.

    there are several websites devoted to the religious symbolism in both movies. in bladerunner you have tyrell - the emperor palpitine of the tyrell corporation. in my research i've read that the chess game that roy and tyrell are playing is the immortal game between god and the devil. annakin and the 'virgin birth'. (stop i can't take it) there's talk of batty being a J.C. like figure to the replicants given all his abilities. when pris is killed she is shot in the back twice. one in each shoulder blade some say symbolizing the wings of an angel being torn off.

    i could go on forever but what do you guys think? do my ideas have any validity or did i overthink?

  9. Wowwee, steffyfred! What a fantastic posting of notes! Simply awesome.

    I don't think your connections are far-fetched at all. Your A-B-C's are dead on and the lines you draw between Deckerd and Anakin make sense. They both are manufactured killing machines of unknown origins. Both have masters/"creators" (Tyrell and Palpatine) that are playing God. I love how Tyrell's suite has tons of candles illuminating it, even though this is a highrise suite of the future. The first thought that came to my mind when I saw Tyrell's room was "How Frankenstein!"...which is EXACTLY what Lucas was going for with the Darth Vader suit creation scene in Ep. 3.

    The Replicant=Clone Troopers tie has been brought to my attention in off-blog emails. Do I agree with the connections, of course. There simply wasn't enough time to talk about it in my episode.

    The whole Chosen One/Virgin Birth/Slaughter of the Innocence spin with Anakin has intrigued and intimidated me, to a degree. Yes, Lucas is playing with many religions, myths and cultures...but his spin on these Christian beliefs in the films is almost unnerving...and it's NO coincidence that Qui-Gon looks like the classical Anglican paintings/portraits of Christ.

    So, did you overthink? Yes, but that's what we do here at DSW. Is there validity to your ideas? You betcha.

    Now we just need to try again and have you as a guest in an upcoming episode! In the meantime, THANK YOU SO MUCH for posting your findings!

    p.s. Sorry about my double post. Found a typo after the fact.

  10. Wow, what a TERRIFIC show! I honestly never saw much of a connection between SW and BR, beyond the obvious, but this talk really gave me a lot to think about as I reconsider two of my fave films. I also enjoyed the commentary about nature, Longwood Gardens, etc. Oh, and the music was cool. Well done!

  11. I found that the rock people are the best way for us miners to find mining careers

  12. Super cool! Makes me wanna watch both films again. Or travel to the not so distant future to see it for myself, being the other is so far far away, and we all know it's easier to travel forward in time then go back a long long time ago. It just takes a little waiting.

    Great job! I'm always waiting for the next episode!

  13. To see a recap of the Digging Star Wars Blade Runner tour of L.A., check out my video entry in American Airlines' "Love the Journey" contest at the link below. Once you're there, click VIEW GALLERY, then look AND VOTE for the GOLDFISH VIDEO by yours truly.!/aadvantage?sk=app_144449419013125

    Thanks in advance for your continued DSW support!


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