After the Blade Runner films
by Lorne Johnson
Agent Z, bleeding from blaster wounds, holds a crumpled golden origami Pegasus in trembling hands, glances through a splintered spinner windscreen, ribboned with winter rain, for the wing-glint of an Off World angel toppling to Earth... Sirens. Gunfire. Howling. Z closes his eyes. A memory (which may not be his) from a life before The Great Searing: a small, smiling boy, kneeling at the foot of a resplendent pink crab apple, cupping his ears, listening to dozens of bees, far above him, gathering pollen, and light, humming hymns to our drained sun.
I first watched Blade Runner in a Sydney cinema when it came out in 1982. I was ten years of age. It had a profound effect on me. I bought the accompanying soundtrack, comic, sketchbook and illustrated script. I occasionally howled like Roy Batty and often recited his iconic, poignant words at the point of death. I wanted to walk those formidable, yet enticing, LA streets from 2019. For some time, I’ve wished to visit the LA architecture featured in the film, such as the Bradbury building. During my teaching career, I have taught the film to dozens of Year 12 students. Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, though bedazzling, didn’t hit me as hard as the original film. Still, I often re-watch segments of it on Netflix – particularly the spinner sequences. Interestingly, my poem seems to echo elements from 2049 more than the original motion picture.
On another note, my wife, son and I lived in Bundanoon, in the Southern Highlands of NSW, from 2011 to 2017. We had a lovely quarter acre block with views to Morton National Park. Every spring, I’d make sure I stood under our backyard crab apple when it flowered, closed my eyes, cupped my ears, and listened to the drone of dozens of bees gathering pollen in the tree’s mass of pinks and whites. Now I live in Newtown, in inner-west Sydney, I miss that stunning tree, and its industrious bees.