Perhaps in the effort to bring art and literature to a wider audience, film makers and movie producers have decided to make film adaptations of the most popular pieces of literature ever. Viewers and audiences sees this as an opportunity to enjoy classic literature and contemporary novels without having to sit and read a book. Films are usually preferred over novels because it is more visual, less time consuming and comparatively more convenient than reading. However, book authors and critics argue that majority of these film adaptations does not do justice these materials because it is often different from what is actually written. Others say that film adaptations of the most popular classic and contemporary novels are not but publicity stunts that is utilized to encourage people to see the film. In fact, majority of these kind of films only relied on the title of the novels for marketing strategy failing to satisfy the audiences who were expecting to see an exact presentation of the novel. In lieu with this, this paper would like to present a critical analysis of how film makers failed in delivering the message and content of the novel in a film adaptation. This paper would evaluate a 1968 novel written by an American author Philip K. Dick entitled, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, against its film adaptation directed by Ridley Scott entitled Blade Runner. This movie has been badly criticized for failing to offer a realistic and actual presentation of the novel’s content. Rather, the film adaptation almost seemed like an entirely different story from the novel from which it claimed to get its story line.
Establishing the similarities between the film and the novel
The most obvious similarity between the film Blade Runner and the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep is the name of the lead character Rick Deckard. However, apart from sharing the same name there was nothing else about the personality that is similar not even their jobs or personal lives. However, while the details are presented differently the overall theme of both the film and the novel are similar. Both the storyline of the film and the novel revolves around the concept of being real, or what it takes to be human. The story was to encapsulate the essence of humanity and concept of being real and tangible. When all else has become robotic or unreal, people tend to find their space. This was perfectly embodied in both the novel and the film. Technology is advancing really fast and people may not realize how much of the traditional things had slowly been replaced by technology. Society claims that by technology everything is more efficient. In addition, society flaunts that advancing everything would make things more effective, productive and convenient.
It is also notable that one of the theme of the novel was ecology. In fact, the novel wanted to express that because of the challenges in the environment people were force to evacuate and leave their homes. That was very powerful and evident in the novel. It was a little carried over the film with the plot being heavily industrialize therefore falling into the pit of pollution. Nevertheless, it was not entirely capitalized or expressed in the film as much as it was in the book.
Establishing the differences between the film and the novel
As mentioned earlier there are quite a number of differences that are highly notable in the film adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. First, in the movie, Rick Deckard does not have a wife. Contrary to the book, Deckard was married to a lady named Iran. The settings was also different for the film and the novel. The movie was set in Los Angeles in 2019, while the setting for the novel was in San Francisco in 1992. It cannot be argued, however, that the filmmaker for Blade Runner cannot use the same era or period that was used in the novel because the film was made in 1982. And that was still a decade earlier than what has been written in the novel. Nonetheless, the director and screenwriter opted to use a more advance period perhaps because they did not see androids taking over, much less being advanced in 1992.
Another difference between the movie and the novel was the activities that involved the character of Rick Deckard. Although it was not explicitly described in the novel and the film, Deckard’s job was similar to that of a bounty hunter. The character of the novel, however, was hunting for androids, while the film’s character was chasing after replicates who were trying to replace and take over the world.
The different supporting characters that were seen in novel were presented differently in the film. Perfect example of these included the characters of Eldon Tyrell who was called Eldon Rosen in the movie. There was also a certain Rosen in the book but was only referred to in the film as Rachel. The character of J.R. Isidore was also changed in the film to J.F. Sebastian. It is believed that J.F. Sebastian and J.R. Isidore are of the same character. However, there was a slight change in reference to how both were presented by their respective creators. In the movie J.F. Sebastian was a high ranking genetic engineer. However, the author of the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip K. Dick referred to J.R. Isidore as a chickenhead. The film deliberately changed the characters of the novel. While it is difficult to explain the purpose for such change considering that it was supposed to be a film adaptation, the goal perhaps was to make it appealing to movie goers not realizing that it deliberately changed the entire concept and storyline that it promises the audience to have.
While it is common for film adaptations to actually have slight difference with the original content of the source from which the material was taken, the film Blade Runner has, in fact, more differences as there were similarities from the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The director of Blade Runner takes pride into claiming that the film was based on the 1968 novel of Philip K. Dick. Nevertheless, after seeing the film one could not help but question whether the source was, in fact, what the film represents. Although the theme was more or less the same, the important details of the film was very different that it appeared as though that the film was not exactly rooted from the novel that it claims. Sharing the name of the film’s lead character with the lead character of the novel does not exactly qualify to calling it a film adaptation. In fact, it could be purely coincidental or maybe whoever wrote the screenplay simply has a fascination with the name “Rick Deckard”.
It is profoundly difficult to explain why movie adaptation of novels would have to significantly change when it has already publicized to the audience that what they will be seeing was just the delivery of the novel’s storyline. If it was indeed strategic on the part of filmmakers to use the titles of popular books to generate more audiences perhaps they should strictly consider adapting the entire concept presented in the novel. Otherwise, like Blade Hunter who claims so much that their story was a film adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, they will only be disappointing the audience because the audience will be seeing something entirely different from what was presented in the novel. Likewise, perhaps instead of using the word film adaptation, filmmakers can just say that their films were inspired by the story of a particular novel and not offer false promises to the audience. Overall, what is learned from this is that reading is still much better than viewing as far as novels are concerned. Making films out of novels, especially long ones would only defeat the story. It will only shorten what was supposedly a long version of the story cutting out most of the important details that leads to the climax.