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Exclusive: Why there are no cell phones in Blade Runner 2049

The technology of Blade Runner 2049
The technology of Blade Runner 2049, which does not include cell phones

The original Blade Runner showed us a grim future where corporations and technology had cluttered cities. The sequel takes us to the year 2049, but you might be surprised how technology has and has not advanced.

Blade Runner 2049 screenwriter explained why, for one thing, nobody in the year 2049 uses a cell phone.

“We looked at existing technology in our world and existing technology in the Blade Runner world and thought a lot about how those things would evolve, whether they would move forward, whether they degraded,” Michael Green said. “What things from 2017 aren’t there? For example, you don’t see cell phones because cell phones are a terrible invention that ruin story.”

Blade Runner 2049
This is what the future looks like.

It might be hard for Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford to look cool holding a cell phone up to their ears. That said, the devices they do use often run apps similar to our smart phones.

“You do have something like an app,” Green said. “There is familiar and there is non familiar.”

In some ways, old technology became new again.

“They have flying cars but at the same time they seem to have vacuum tube screens from time to time, in the original especially,” Green said.

Blade Runner 2049
Everything old is new again.

Perhaps the diversity of 2049 technology comes from the diverse group of creators working on the film. There was Green as well as co-writer Hampton Fancher, the director, producers and other artists collaborating.

“Certain things were imagined by Hampton, then elaborated by myself,” Green said. “Then we have Ridley [Scott] and Denis [Villeneuve] and Dennis Gassner, our production designer, and hundreds of artists working on this, whether it’s our storyboard artists or even [cinematographer] Roger Deakins who are painting the world out and fleshed out the specifics of technology beyond anything I saw when I closed my eyes. I just hope I gave them enough space to build as big as they could imagine and they imagined pretty big.”

Blade Runner 2049 is now playing in theaters.

Fred Topel has been a journalist since 1999. Over the decades he’s written for About.com, Hollywood.com, CraveOnline, Rotten Tomatoes and Slashfilm. Fred brings Monsters and... read more

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