Blade Runner – Attack Ships on Fire Off the Shoulder of Orion

Theme: The mystery and awesome nature of God and his creation

Bible refs: Job 38 & 39; Psalm 104; Revelation 12

Location of clip: 1 hr 41 mins and 35 secs to 1 hr 43 mins and 8 secs

Film Description:
We’re in the future again – and this time it’s all about artificial human beings – replicants or “skin jobs”. Scientists have constructed these replicants, but now find them to be a threat to humankind. The order has gone out to hunt them down and destroy them – before they get us. Deckard is a Blade Runner – a future cop whose job it is to track down these replicants. Deckard stalks the streets of a bleak, rain lashed city, a grim vision of the future. Four replicants from outer space have hijacked a ship and returned to earth. Deckard must track them down and destroy them.

Clip description:
 “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time  – to die.”
So says replicant Roy Batty (no relation to Norah as far as I’m aware) just before he bows his head and shuffles off this mortal coil. Deckard watches and wonders. Deckard has never seen these things. As he slips away Batty opens Deckard’s eyes, and ours to a world of mythical size and wonder. The very language he uses and the style of his delivery makes it all seem dangerous and wonderful. There are things out there we just can’t imagine. Batty gives us a brief glimpse of something bigger. Something ‘other’.

I love this little monologue – it’s mythical – it gives you the sense that the world is much bigger than you ever imagined. What strange and awesome things are out there? Things our minds can’t begin to grasp. It’s said that there are places on this earth we never see. Ocean depths. Mountain tops. The inside of volcanoes. Places of fearful power and deadly creativity. There are creatures we can’t imagine. Plant life we cannot touch.

We get a similar picture from the last four chapters of Job, or Psalm 104, or Revelation 12. You get a glimpse of a much bigger God, a massive world out there that’s beyond comprehension. In Revelation 12 we see God’s perspective on Christmas. And instead of a little baby in a manger with shepherds and a few donkeys, there’s a dragon, and a woman fleeing, there’s danger and evil, vulnerability and a cosmic clash. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that God is so much bigger than our ideas about him. Yes, he is the God who walks beside us, an arm around our shoulder, encouraging us, inspiring us, forgiving us, spurring us on. But he’s also seen ‘attack ships off the shoulder of Orion…’ he’s seen the universe. He’s witnessed cosmic battles and universal upheaval; war in heaven and peace on earth.

When Job needs some perspective on life God points him to aspects of this world – but not the pretty flowers and gentle sunsets – he points him towards the awesome side of life. More or less saying – ‘You are small Job, always remember this, there are things you will never fully grasp.’

In Genesis chapter 1 we see a God outside of time and space, calling planets and stars into being, decorating the chaotic void with life and colour.
In the very next chapter we see a God who walks on the earth, talks to people, shows them round. Makes them clothes when things have fallen apart. This is the mystery of our God. Big enough to squish stars in his fingers, small enough to sit beside us on a rock.

Mind blowing, isn’t it?

1. Have you had any experiences that opened your eyes to the massive nature of God and his universe?
2. Have you read the last chapters of Job? They are strange and wonderful – what do you make of them?
3. How do you find having to live with the unknowable mysteries of God – the things beyond our understanding?
4. When he visited Athens Paul saw a statue dedicated to the unknown God and took the opportunity to introduce the locals to that God. People love mystery and myth – should we try and communicate more of this side of God’s nature?
5. Did the clip make you think about anything else?

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