A Blimp Is Born
A Blimp Is Born:
From Concept to Screen to Fandom
The Blade Runner Blimp
Researched, compiled, and edited by C.A. Chicoine
When we think of the movie Blade Runner, any number of things come to mind: the opening 'Hades Landscape' scene, the Tyrell Pyramids, animated billboards, neon signs, the police 'Spinner', Deckard's 'Blaster', the Voight-Kampff machine, the incessant rain, one of its memorable lines, Vangelis' timeless soundtrack, among a plethora of other things, sights, and sounds.
In this article, I will focus on the dirigible billboard––also referred to as the Blade Runner blimp, advertising blimp, Off-world blimp, mother-blimp, or simply, the blimp––from concept to construction. And I'd like to discuss its message and what it says about the portrayal of humanity in the dystopian vision of Blade Runner. And show how its influence was translated by the fans of this film through their art, words, and music.
"A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies!
The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure!"
We are first introduced to this alien-looking aircraft––rolling out advertisements in between its howling siren horn––just before we meet Rick Deckard. We hear the headline, “A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure.” After Deckard's attention is caught by the blimp's horn, inducing him to read its billboard, we learn a little more about its message. Depending on which version of Blade Runner you watch, the content varies––you'll either hear the message in its entirety or only partially, leaving it open to speculation.
In the Workprint, we hear the entire advertisement. It starts with its beckoning call, at the opening of the second scene, before it fades into the background, finishing by the time Gaff comes into the scene.
Announcement: "A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure. New climate, recreational facilities, easy advancement, great pay. Plus, a loyal trouble-free companion, given to you upon arrival, absolutely free. Use your new friend as a personal body servant or a tireless field hand. The custom tailored genetically engineered humanoid replicant––designed especially for your needs. So, come on America! Let's put our team up there. Give this country another chance. Let's go to the colonies!"
Sponsor tag and slogan: "This announcement has been brought to you by Shimago-Domínguez Corporation. Helping America into the new world."
In the U.S. and International Theatrical releases, it was edited––and the sentences fragmented. The announcement is there, for the most part, but the sponsor tag and their slogan had been removed.
In the Director's Cut, it was edited even more so, but with the sponsor tag and slogan restored.
Announcement: "A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure. Let's go to the colonies!"
Sponsor tag and slogan: "This announcement has been brought to you by Shimago-Domínguez Corporation. Helping America into the new world."
In the Final Cut, it too was slightly edited down. And the sponsor tag and slogan had, once again, been removed. [Why, oh why?!]
Announcement: "A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure. Use your servant or a tireless field hand––the custom tailored genetically designed humanoid replicant––designed especially for your needs. So, come on America! Let's put our team up there. Give this country another chance. Let's go to the colonies!"
It is interesting to note that, in an earlier draft of the Blade Runner screenplay, by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples––dated February 23, 1981––there was a different narration. It was pretty much the same message, only more intrusive.
EXT. OVERHEAD VIEW CITY - NIGHT
We are looking down on a city of the future where gigantic buildings dwarf the ancient skyscrapers -- of -- now as a huge blimp, flashing lights and BLARING SOUND drifts slowly over the tall buildings.
CUT TO: EXT. THE BLIMP - FROM BELOW - NIGHT
As the blimp drifts through the tall buildings advertisements appear on the curved sides of dirigible and an accompanying SOUNDTRACK proclaims, with AM enthusiasm, the virtues of Offworld emigration.
ATTENTION SUPERVISORY PERSONNEL!
(WE NEED YOU YOU YOU)
ATTENTION FAMILY MAKERS!
(WE NEED YOU you you)
(WE NEED YOU you you you)
(WE NEED YOU YOU YOU)
(WE NEED YOU YOU you you)
(WE NEED YOU YOU you you)
(WE NEED YOU YOU YOU you)
NINE PAID VACATIONS PER YEAR!
(WE NEED YOU you you)
The Dominguez-Shimata colony wants supervisory recruits and families. Join us in a clean, fresh environment featuring the invigorating Johnson and Murikami California Climate!
(WE NEED YOU YOU you you you)
Enjoy the numerous recreation areas and resorts such as the famous Elysium Crater Resort!
(WE NEED YOU YOU you you)
Let our abundant man-made labour force cater to your personal needs!
(WE NEED YOU YOU you you)
If you meet health and experience qualifications for the Offworld Immigration Programs... the standard OPE short form... there's a place for you at Dominguez and Shimata Colonies. Press the button now! Give yourself a brand new world!
(WE NEED YOU YOU you you)
EXT. CITY STREET - NIGHT
Lights from the blimp flash along the street and wipe across the crowds of pedestrians as the VOICE TRACK CONTINUES TO BLARE from above. A portable noodle bar is crowded with customers, sitting on stools slurping their food out of bowls. DECKARD is standing near the noodle bar waiting for a seat. He's in his thirties, wiry, athletic, rumpled, used, unshaven. He's holding a newspaper, made of tissue paper, open while he glances at the blimp passing NOISILY overhead. Then he notices the COUNTERMAN.
Also, note the change from the Dominguez-Shimata colony in this early draft to the Shimago-Domínguez Corporation in the final script. This minor detail had not escaped the attention of some hardcore Blade Runner fans, as you will read shortly.
And, in the 1982 Marvel Comics adaptation of Blade Runner––written by Archie Goodwin with art by Al Williamson, Carlos Garzon with Dan Green and Ralph Reese––the advertisement went as follows. [It was probably based off of the aforementioned draft in order for its release to coincide with the movie's release.]
WE NEED YOU!
THE DOMINGUEZ-SHIMATA COLONY NEEDS YOU!
GIVE YOURSELF A BRAND NEW WORLD!
IF YOU MEET HEALTH AND EXPERIENCE QUALIFICATIONS FOR OFFWORLD EMIGRATION ... WE NEED YOU!
And in Blade Runner: A Story of the Future, by Les Martin, [This was a movie tie-in, Scholastic-style book, targeted for children and young adult readers] published by Random House, 1982:
The blimp's super-powered loudspeakers blared its message down to the horde of humanity that packed the city:
"Attention, all who want a better life for yourself and your children! Attention, everyone who can meet our simple standard of health, age, and ability! We offer you the ultimate in opportunity! Top pay! Automatic advancement! A completely controlled California-style climate! Fabulous, fun-filled recreation areas! And now, as a very special bonus, we offer you absolutely free of charge the newest and finest generation yet of our marvelous man-made labor force. Yes, you can be the proud and happy owner of your very own Tyrell Corporation Nexus replicant in the size, color, and sex of your choice, to serve your every want and need in our great new Dominguez and Shimata space colonies ..."
"The saying currently blabbed by posters, TV ads, and government junk mail, ran: Emigrate or degenerate! The choice is yours!"
As a matter of fact, Hampton Fancher used this idea from PKD's book in an earlier draft—dated July 24, 1980.
The only voice coming out clear is from the big 3-D TV on the back wall. As the mellow-mouthed TV announcer delivers the message, a Latin-looking beauty in a well-fitted maids uniform does a twirl, flashes a beguiling smile and glides OUT OF FRAME.
Choose from a variety of seventy-
nine different personality types.
Each and every one a loyal trouble-
free companion given to you upon
your arrival absolutely free...
The Latin beauty is replaced by an impeccable Ray
Bolger-type gentleman's gentleman who clicks his heels,
snaps to attention and struts off to make room for the next.
To use as a personal body servant
to tireless field hand -- the
custom tailored humanoid robot,
designed especially for your needs.
So, how did the blimp in Blade Runner come about?
The director and writers knew that they wanted to advertise for the Off-world colonies, so what better way than to use billboards!
Tom Southwell, who was hired as an illustrator for Blade Runner, and working on the billboard designs at the time of his following recollection, told Paul M. Sammon in an interview for his book, Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner, published by HarperCollins Publishers, Revised and Updated Edition, 2017:
"... on a Friday evening, David L. Snyder [art director] called me and said Ridley [director Ridley Scott] wanted to see the billboard rendering right away, up in Lawrence Paull's [production designer] office at Sunset Gower Studios. So I go. Mr. Scott's first reaction was very positive, complete with expletives. Suddenly, after a brief discussion with Ridley, Larry, David, and associate producer Ivor Powell, we heard a noise coming from outside some open windows, ... The sound was coming from up above. And as we looked up, the Goodyear Blimp came into view, .... Someone in our group said, There's your billboard! A week later, the blimp was in the latest script."
The blimp was the last major item on the effects docket. It was also among the last elements to be incorporated into the script. As director Ridley Scott explained in an interview with Cinefex magazine in 1982, and later republished in book form under the title Blade Runner: The Inside Story, by Don Shay, published by Titan Books, 2000:
"The blimp is an extension of media advertising, and in a way, it's a throwback to my childhood during the second World War. My family was living in a suburb of London, and we had these barrage balloons flying overhead."
As David Dryer (special effects photographic supervisor) said in the Blade Runner Souvenir Magazine, published by Ira Friedman in 1982:
"The blimp is a wonderful image. It's the height of technology gone mad. It's part future and part past. The concept of this big dumb thing floating over the city—using that as a way of advertising in the future—is a wonderful idea."
An idea that evolved from the blimp was to show the source of the spotlights that were seen throughout the film. In an interview, cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth––featured in American Cinematographer––said:
"The shafts of light was an idea that both Ridley and I had happened upon independently and had talked about. We shared that concept, and it became one of the major themes of the film photographically. We used it over and over again in different applications. One way we justified the constant presence of shafts of light was to invent airships floating through the night with enormously powerful beams emerging from their undersides. In the futuristic environment they bathe the city in constantly swinging lights. They were supposedly used for both advertising and crime control, much the way a prison is monitored by moving search lights. The shafts of light represent invasion of privacy by a supervising force, a form of control. You are never sure who it is; but even in the darkened seclusion of your home, unless you pull your shades down, you are going to be disturbed at one time or another.” –– Blade Runner: Production Design and Photography, by Herb Lightman and Richard Patterson. American Cinematographer, July 1982.
Benefiting from the research and development conducted for the special effects in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind was Blade Runner's 'Mother Blimp'.
It was during the building of the blimp where the model shop crew referred to it as the mother blimp. This was because some of the crew (namely, model maker, Michael McMillen, and special photographic effects supervisors, Douglas Trumbull, and Richard Yuricich) worked on the set of Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. And a lot of the technology and special effects that were used in that movie (specifically on the mother ship) was also used with the blimp, as is described in the following video.
Ogi no Mato –– 扇の的 –– The Folding Fan as a Target
When the blimp is not blasting out its advertisement about the benefits of migrating to the Off-world colonies, it is heard broadcasting a haunting Japanese song. It is heard throughout the movie in fragments. We first hear a segment of it just before the blaring of the siren horn when we are introduced to the blimp in the second scene. Then we hear the Off-world advertisement. We hear another fragment of it when J.F. Sebastian and Pris enter the Bradbury Building together––we see it in the skylight as it is played through the loudspeaker. Then, during the transition from the love scene to when Pris is applying the raccoon make-up, we hear yet a little more. Later, when Deckard enters the Bradbury, we see it through the skylight once again. And then the scene where we see Roy put a nail through the palm of his hand straight through to the scene of him putting his head through the bathroom wall. And, lastly, while Deckard exits the out of the Bradbury onto the ledge, and starts to climb to the roof.
What we are listening to are excerpts from the song Ogi no Mato, performed by Ayako Handa of the group Ensemble Nipponia, from their album, Japan Traditional Vocal and Instrumental Music. For a better understanding and appreciation of this piece, I include the following excerpt from Hope Anderson's essay, The Smiling Geisha and Ogi no Mato: The Significance of Japanese Culture in "Blade Runner", from her book, On "Blade Runner": Four Essays, published by Bookbaby, 2013.
Part of Japan's classical canon, Ogi No Mato is rooted in Imperial Court music [gagaku], a type of biwi called moso, and Buddhist chants. The singer recounts an epic tale in a style that as much spoken as sung, employing guttural sounds, shouts, and shrieks. The song sounds strange to non-Japanese ears because it has no western equivalent.
Neither does the instrument that accompanies it. The biwi differs from the Western lute in structure, timbre, and playing method. Because it has no fixed tunings and loose strings, players achieve tension and pitch through the use of a plectrum [bachi]. Adding to the foreignness of the sound are long pauses called ma. Like negative space in visual art, these silences are a crucial element of the composition. In her rendition of Ogi No Mato, Handa also employs two modern biwa techniques: striking the bachi against the biwa for percussion; and scraping it against the strings for sound effects. These characteristics imbue a haunting song with even greater emotional power. Since the release of "Blade Runner," Ogi No Mato has become famous around the world, beloved by an audience that would have been unlikely to hear, let alone appreciate, Japanese classical music by other means.
Though the filmmakers surely chose Ogi No Mato for esthetic reasons, its origins and meaning provide “Blade Runner” with an added dimension. The lyrics are drawn from the Heike Monogatari [Tale of Heike], a monument of Japanese medieval literature that tells the story of two powerful clans, the Minamoto (also known as Genji) and the Taira (also known as Heike) and the Gempei War, which they fought from 1180-1185.
The episode behind Ogi No Mato, which has been wrongly described in English as a “William Tell Story,” involves the Battle of Yashima, which was fought off Taira's island refuge in southern Honshu. The Minamoto samurai Yasu No Yoichi volunteers to shoot an arrow through a small and distant target: the folding fan that the Taira has placed on their ship's mast for luck. Though only fifteen years old, Yasu succeeds in piercing the fan on a single try. This coup deals a crippling psychological blow to the Taira, who lose the Gempei War and are annihilated.
Why this song was used in the soundtrack is open to speculation. Might this song suggest, as with the destruction of the Taira, the fate of the replicants on Earth? This is one of two songs from the movie soundtrack that were not Vangelis compositions. [The other being Gail Laughton's, Pompeii 76 A.D., from his album, Harps of Ancient Temples.] Although we have learned about the subject of the song, I've yet to find a translation of the lyrics. [Or the Japanese lyrics, for that matter.]
The prominent motif and symbolism of the blimp
Advertising blimps float over the dystopian landscape of 2019 Los Angeles; their searchlights penetrating into every dark crevice and corner, as seen when Deckard enters the Bradbury Building. This gives the impression that the population is under constant, oppressive surveillance. And its announcement tells us of society's treatment of humanoid replicants as slaves. And of the around-the-clock commercialism as well. Below are some excerpts that explore some of these themes, and more, surrounding the blimp.
In an article titled Blade Runner: Motifs and Themes, by Gaijin-san, on the website 'Shut Up! I Got Words...', in 2010, he wrote:
We see eyes in the giant digital billboards that dominate the skyline, eyes in the faces of the geisha style models who seem both to advertise – and note that it seems to be cigarettes and drugs that they are pushing – and to watch the population of the city, even it seems in private: this is nowhere more obvious than when we look up through the glass ceiling of the Bradbury Building to see the advertising blimp looking back in at us. This is the eye as the manifestation of the oppression of what we now know as the surveillance state.
In Jamie Green's article titled Existentialism in Blade Runner, in 2012, he wrote:
Blade Runner portrays Los Angeles, 2019 as the antithesis of its own ‘Off-world Colonies’, advertised on blimps circling the city’s eternally rain-drenched skies. It is an apparition of all that has been left behind: the collection and reuse of all the detritus, repurposed, and retrofitted by a moribund denizenship. An allegory of contemporary culture. One that, infused with the mythology and aesthetic of Film Noir, provides the macrocosm by which the lexicon of characters in the film question their right to and perception of the human condition.
The interminable invasion of advertisement and surveillance in Scott’s future is best exposed through the signature Venetian blinds of Film Noir “making visible their state of entrapment” (Encyclopedia of Film Noir by Geoff Mayer, Brian McDonnell, 2007: 75), recurrent throughout the film (11, 23, 32, 63, 71, 97, 109 mins [of the Final Cut]). The contrast between the shadows and prowling beams of light, cast across the scenes by the blimps and police outside, creates a personal and social insecurity.
And, in Chapter 4, Revisiting the Biblical Tradition: Dante, Blake, and Milton in Blade Runner, of Décio Torres Cruz's book, Postmodern Metanarratives: Blade Runner and Literature in the Age of Image, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014, he wrote:
In BR, Deckard's attention is caught by a flying ad vehicle (the Blimp), which announces colonies Off-world with replicants to work as slaves for prospective buyers. When Deckard looks up, the vehicle is shown as a flashing, eerie object. The Blimp, in its oppressive presence, endlessly advertising a better life in the Off-world colonies, may be associated with the devils that come to tempt and torment Dante's souls. The text produced by the Blimp, however, suggests an interpretation of this sight as angels descending into Hell to promise the chance to begin again in a new world, a chance of redemption in a place that may be considered Purgatory. The place advertised assumes the features of Paradise when compared with life on Earth. The dismal sounds of tormented souls follow throughout, while the overhead Blimp proclaims a new beginning in a new world: "A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure. New climate, recreational facilities..." (BR) The Blimp and the massive presence of giant billboard screens in the film also evoke the ubiquitous eye that watches everything. The allusion to God's omnipresence in the form of a devilish technology and pervasive advertisement (similar to Orwell's Big Brother in 1984) may be interpreted as a twist in the traditional biblical discourse.
Following this take, in the released theatrical version, Deckard's voice-over is heard announcing his sinful profession: "They don't advertise for killers in the newspaper. That was my profession. Ex-cop, ex-killer." (BR). The reference to his mortal sin (killing) is also allusive of the place he is in, and the reference to Hell becomes even clearer, this time to Round One of Circle Seven, where "The Violent Against Neighbors" are located in Dante's Inferno. The Blimp continues advertising the replicant servants that the immigrants to the outer colonies will be granted. The replicants are genetically engineered to work tirelessly and to perform any kind of task the customer wishes. The advertisement appeals to nationalistic feelings, by connecting emigration to a sports competition and by summoning the American people as a nation to put their team up in the colonies: "...absolutely free... Use your new friend as a personal body servant or a tireless field hand -- the custom-tailored genetically-engineered humanoid replicant designed especially for your needs. So come on America, let's put out team up there..." (BR).
In Anil Narine's article in Americana: The Journal of American Popular Culture (1900-present), Fall 2006, Volume 5, Issue 2, titled Policing Traumatized Boundaries of Self and Nation: Undocumented Labor in Blade Runner, he wrote:
"... the blimps high above promote emigration and literal flight to the wealthy; the electronic billboards below promote consumption and pacification (figurative flight) to the poor who roam the streets, with the clear suggestion that some people can leave, but others must stay."
And, in Alexandra Mjöll Young's dissertation, More Human than Human: Race, Culture, and Identity in Cyberpunk, written in 2014.
The capitalist commercial presence is intrusive and inescapable as neon-signs clutter the streets and advertising blimps promote a ‘better life’ in the off-world colonies. This influence even stretches out to the abandoned city outskirts where an ominous commercial blimp peers through the abandoned Bradbury Building, implying that it is collapsing under the weight of omnipresent commercial power
Brought to you by ...
First, it was the Dominguez-Shimata colony. Then it was changed to the Shimago-Domínguez Corporation. So then, what's up with the Shimata-Dominguez Corporation? Is it Shimata or Shimago?
The Shimago-Dominguez Corporation and the Shimata-Dominguez Corporation have been used interchangeably in the Blade Runner community. And, in the movie tie-in materials [Blade Runner: A Story of the Future and the 1982 Marvel Comics adaptation], both having been based on an early script, used Shimata––the Dominguez-Shimata colony.
And even in Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner, when writing about the different cuts of Blade Runner, in particular, the Director's Cut, Paul Sammon wrote:
Added dialogue issuing from the Mother Blimp was inserted to fill the hole created by Deckard's missing voice-over, originally heard in the Domestic/International/ Diego Cuts while Deckard waited for a place at the Noodle Bar ("They don't advertise for killers in a newspaper ...")/ The BRDC-added blimp line consisted of a female voice stating, "This announcement has been brought to you by the Shimata-Dominguez Corporation, helping America into the New World."
While one can clearly hear it, when you click on the subtitle (in the Director's Cut), you can see that it is, in fact, the "Shimago-Dominguez Corporation". But that hasn't stopped the fandom from mixing them up––even the most obsessed fans. After all, the only cut of the film that we hear this sponsor tag and slogan in is in the Workprint and the Director's Cut. And most of us had not seen the Workprint until the release of the Blade Runner five-disc Ultimate Collector's Edition, in 2007. So, those of us most familiar with the blimp advert are those who have seen the Director's Cut, released in 1993.
And, in Blade Runner: A Story of the Future, only Dominguez was mentioned, not Shimago or Shimata.
"Let's not play games, Deckard," Bryant said. "I don't have the energy, and you don't have the time. I've got four skin jobs walking the street that are just your meat. They killed twenty-three people when they busted loose on Dominguez. They hijacked a space shuttle. We found the shuttle in the desert a hundred miles from here. Empty."
The Shimago-Domínguez Corporation seemed to be one of the lesser explored details in Blade Runner by the fandom. It wasn't even included in BRMovie.com's Encyclopedia Blade Runner, or in KippleZone's Kipplepedia [Until now.].
Speculating about the names, Shimago and Shimata: are either of them plausible candidates to partner up with Dominguez? Doing a google search for those names came up with a couple of locations associated with them. There is a railway station in Japan called the Shimata Station. And there is a Shimago Post Office, in Ariakemachi Ōshimago, Amakusa-shi, Kumamoto-ken, Japan. But I'm not convinced that they had any bearing on the name selection. So, what about the names themselves? Shimata is a Japanese surname. But, Shimago? I could not find any such name. So, at this point, only the writers can help to clear up this conundrum. In the meantime, we can only go by what we hear and see in the Director's Cut; the Shimago-Domínguez Corporation.
Despite all of this, the fans that did embrace this fictitious corporation did so cleverly. You'll find fan-made logos (mostly for T-shirts) with the Off-world colonies logo on it, featuring a hodgepodge of sponsor tags––Dominguez-Shimata Corporation––Shimata-Dominguez Corporation––Shimago Dominguez Corporation, and this one sporting the original PKD-penned slogan from his book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?––"Emigrate or degenerate! The choice is yours!"
Not only was this fictional Off-world colony sponsor's name rendered on T-shirts, but also onto a prop replica. In some of the older Blaster prop kits made by Rick Ross, the name "Shimago Dominguez Corporation" was stamped on the barrel. Later, this had to be removed due to legal issues with the film company. Shortly after this, he would develop the name PK-D.
Globalization also is reflected in the name of the Shimago-Domínguez Corporation. Combine that with the constant, oppressive surveillance, what are the implications of this? The fan-created Shimata-Dominguez Corporation website helps in addressing some of these issues––or, at least, to help bridge the gap between fiction and reality.
The Shimata-Dominguez Corporation website is a fan-created off-shoot from the movie Blade Runner with some of Philip K. Dick's stories. It represents the missing fictional company in Blade Runner that operates the Off-world colonies. While the movie offers very little information about the corporation and the Off-world colonies themselves, it does provide a free rein of interpretation from the fandom. And that's where this website comes in.
In an interview I had with Sam Mercer, the Commanding Officer of the Shimata-Dominguez Corporation,[via email] we learn a little more about his website.
Please tell us a little bit about the Shimata-Dominguez Corporation website.
The Shimata-Dominguez Corporation website represents the missing fictional company in Blade Runner running Off-world, thus allowing to open a breach in the Off-world colonies.
The first axis is of ideas found in the original P.K. Dick and Scott stories about hope, promise, corporations, and technologies. The second axis is of ideas from Huxley and Orwell stories, about politics, trans-humanism, control, work, and slavery. The third axis is the bridge which glues everything together with a combination of fiction, art, and other information by various authors, companies, and institutions.
Over time, it was clear that links had to be made between fiction and the past/present reality as facts caught up and even matched the fictional stories. Everything is intertwined [inter-linked], and the story has taken on a life of its own.
Why did you create this website?
It was simply a personal project that I created in 2013 to keep me up-to-date with web design since I left website design a few years ago.
And, because there was no elaborate vision of the Off-world colonies portrayed in the movie or book, which are, nevertheless, the New World for humanity, I felt it was an opportunity to explore the world of Blade Runner as seen through the eyes of this fictitious corporation. Should it remain at the level of dreams and hopes, as the filmmakers and writers left it? What are the Off-world colonies all about, exactly?
What are your goals for this website?
In 2013, its goal was to elaborate and extrapolate the bit of the story which is happening Off-world. It was done so by combining existing information, essays, analyses, and articles––either fictional or real––that were emanating from real-world companies and institutions. At that time I was surprised how pieces of existing information could be combined together to extend the story without altering its foundations.
In 2018, with the amount of information and revelations that have been released to the public (or at least to information seekers), it became clear that links had to be made between science-fiction and reality. Simply extrapolating a fiction became insufficient as facts caught up, matched, and surpassed fiction stories!
The website has now become a cover-story that leads to deep and up-to-date sources about what's going here on Earth and Off-world.
As we approach 2019, Blade Runner and its narrative are becoming more real than most of us could have expected in 1968 or 1982. This website intends to be one of the many existing launchpads to understanding the deep aspects of our society and the potential future of humanity.
When did you get into Blade Runner?
*memories* My interest in the film started in the mid-nineties. It probably started a Saturday afternoon, at the age of 16, with a connection through music––while listening to Bochum Welt's "Scharlach Eingang". The mood of this record reminded me of this film when I watched it a few years ago. There are certainly other groups in a similar vein, such as that of µ-Ziq, Aphex Twin, The Future Sound of London, among many others. I was surprised by how music can influence the choice of a movie that hadn't caught my attention before. The VHS tape of Blade Runner, recorded from a TV broadcast, was waiting to be rediscovered again in a drawer below the TV set.
With a second viewing, it really impressed me. I wanted to know more by reading analyses and interviews which helped to uncover some of the deep aspects of the film, those I could not understand on my own. I discovered many versions of the soundtrack as well as fan-work and mania around the film. Next, I read P.K. Dick's novel. Then I watched the various versions of the film, played the video game, read K.W. Jeter's "Blade Runner 2", and finally read the great comic adaptation by Tony Parker.
After all these years, the Blade Runner universe is still very much alive and continues to keep my interest, with thanks to the Blade Runner community, BladeZone, KippleZone, LA2019, musicians, among many other creators and thinkers.
The Shimata-Dominguez Corporation has a Facebook page. Updates are voluntarily kept to the minimum: leading to the website, promoting life Off-world, relaying Off-world news, and handling appointments for departure.
Blimp-inspired Sight and Sound
The Blade Runner blimp has inspired many a fan. [The most obvious being the Off-world News! We lifted the Off-world logo to use for our Blade Runner newsletter!] Fans have re-created many of the props seen in the movie, such as the Voight-Kampff machine, the Blaster, unicorn origami, and models of the Spinner, and action figures. [Not to mention sought-after items, like Deckard's Scotch whisky glass; and made-up objects, like "The Snake Pit" matchbook, and vid-phon card.] Although there hasn't been as many blimp-inspired props and art, what there are is certainly most impressive.
Blimp CGI and scale models
In 2010, kazuchoice produced a fan-edit of Blade Runner titled the White Dragon Cut version 4.0. It has been the most sought-after Blade Runner fan-edit ever! It was even mentioned in Paul Sammon's book Future Noir [Revised and Updated Edition, 2017]––in Chapter XVIII The Legend Grows, under subsection The Blade Runner Virus: Fame, Fashion, and Fan-edits. Below is how he created one of the scenes featuring the blimp. Here, the blimp is seen floating by the Bradbury Building. [He is currently working on version 5.]
Back in 2011 through into 2012, Jason Eaton created a 1/2 studio-scale blimp, featuring the original ads, four servo controlled spotlights, and lots of LEDs. This model represents three years of patient digging and research. [Note the sponsor tag variation: Shimagu-Dominguez Corporation.] More images on his website HERE.
Adam Savage and modelmaker Kayte Sabicer reveal the Blade Runner blimp prop replica they've been working on.
Blade Runner Blimp - Cinema 4D, by John Farmer
Blade Runner Nexus: A Fan's Attempt To Recreate the Los Angeles of Blade Runner -- featuring the work of Don Cameron and Sean Patrick Kennedy.
Music featuring the Blimp
Music by Marco Spatuzzi. Lyrics by C.A. Chicoine. The music was arranged and performed by MEMORIA. This track is a remix with added sound bytes from the movie. The instrumental interlude, Blade Runner (End Titles), was composed by Vangelis. Blade Runner is copyright ©1982 Warner Brothers, Ladd Company, and the Blade Runner Partnership. The sound bytes used in this product is intended for free fan-share use only. No intellectual property infringement is intended.
Come what may –– Life in the city
Another day –– Ordinary
Life just seems to pass me by
All they say –– Selling us freedom
Night and day –– Propaganda
Nothing changes –– It's all the same here
Fear of strangers
What is there...left to feel?
I turn another page –– It's the same old drear
This world lay in ruins
No one gives a damn
Is this what they call living?
This is insane!
There must be more to life
Than what I’ve been given
The promise of a new life –– To begin again
Could there be such a paradise?
A brand new life awaits you
in the Off-world colonies.
It’s a chance to begin a new life
in the Off-world colonies.
From script to storyboard to model to fandom––a blimp is born.
The following slide presentation includes photos of a Ridleygram (concept sketch by Ridley Scott) with Polaroids of a study model of the Off-world blimp, storyboard illustrations, and photos of the blimp at various stages of its creation by the modelmakers, the final result as seen on-screen, and models and art from the Blade Runner fandom.
Let's go to the colonies!
The Blade Runner blimp is just one of the many things that come to mind when we think of Blade Runner. And, depending on which version of the film that we're familiar with, its message is open to speculation––but that's nothing new to the Blade Runner fandom.
The blimp represents corporate power and a capitalist commercial presence through its intrusive and inescapable adverts. And it also represents oppressive surveillance as witnessed by its spotlights as they probe into buildings and over streets and alleyways.
The blimp has been associated with the devil that comes to tempt and torment the poor souls of those left on Earth––or as angels descending into Hell to promise the chance to begin again in a new world, a chance of redemption in a place that may be considered Purgatory, in Dante's Divine Comedy.
It is futuristic, yet old; retrofitted like much of the technology and architecture in Blade Runner.
An alien life-form, programming our minds and contaminating our souls.
The promise of a new life––to begin again. Could there be such a paradise?
An advertisement for hope––for those who meet their stringent qualifications. Or an advertisement of despair––keeping those who don't qualify in their place.
However you care to interpret the blimp, I cannot imagine the dystopian world of Blade Runner without the blimp's looming presence.
This article has been brought to you by Off-world News: Keeping you up-to-date on all things Blade Runner.
Researched, compiled, and edited by C.A. Chicoine
~ December 2018 ~
[Revised 1/2019, to include Adam Savage's Blade Runner blimp replica video.]
For Further Reading, Viewing, and Listening:
Douglas Trumbull: In Retrospect, Compiled and Edited by C.A. Chicoine
Audio reading of the book Blade Runner: A Story of the Future, by Les Martin
Carl Sagan: Tale of the Heike Crabs
Ogi no Mato Kyudo Taikai - Japanese Archery with Fan Targets on the Water