Using the film Blade Runner for GCSE English.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Bladerunner was based on the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick.
Tom Cleaver writes:
Having recently read Phillip K. Dick's book 'Do Androids Dream of Electric
Sheep' and subsequently watched the film 'Blade Runner' for the second
time after some years, I searched the internet to explore the deeper meanings
Firstly some purely technical mistakes: you say that Roy Baty is named
Irmgard in the book. In fact, he is still named Roy, but another of the
androids, his 'wife', is named Irmgard.
It is clear in the book then that the androids do lack human empathy,
and are always ultimately cold and calculating (where as in the film they
seem to possess some form of empathy, as Rachel loves Deckard, and Roy
saves his life before dying himself).
What Deckard discovers in the book is that life and reality are not a
matter of being proven to be real, but consist in thought and experience.
In the film Pris says to Sebastian "I think therefore I am,"
the only real reference to this theme in the film. More evidence for this
is in the last few chapters of the book, when Deckard's wife asks him
if he believes Mercerism to be real (after it has been deemed a hoax).
He replies "Everything is true. Everything anyone has ever thought."
So although the actual images people see of Mercer were originally faked,
the experience people have in merging with him has become real.
It is interesting to note, however, that this is a theme running through many of Dick's novels, and relates to his own life. He was schizophrenic, and experienced complicated hallucinations throughout his life, culminating in a mental breakdown. He explores these experiences in the books 'Valis' and 'Radio Free Albemuth,' and touches on them in many others including 'A Scanner Darkly.' Although obviously aware they were hallucinations, he believes them to have as much meaning as what we normally think of as 'reality,' hence Deckard's assertion that everything anyone has ever thought is true.
So the film, as well as simplifying the plot, completely changes the
philosophical issues in the book, and subsequently gives a very different
feel to the whole story.
If you've read this page so far you might like to read his different view.
Think about the differences between what we have written. Which are differences of fact and which are differences of opinion?
Which do you agree with?