Cyberpunk Review » AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Films: Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, are IN!!!

June 21, 2007

AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Films: Blade Runner, A Clockwork Orange, are IN!!!

Blade Runner Screencap


In 1998, as part of its 100th anniversary, the American Film Institute presented a list of the top 100 American movies of all time based on factors such as box office success, film making innovations, and cultural impact. Films like Star Wars and The Wizard of Oz made it with Citizen Kane as #1, while Blade Runner was left out. Now, on the tenth anniversary of that list, the AFI counted them down again on CBS. This time around, Blade Runner was joined by 1999’s cyberpunk-action-blockbuster The Matrix as eligible candidates for the big list. With The Matrix Trilogy out on HD-DVD and Blade Runner - Final Cut later this year, fans would love to see both movies on this list, though judging by my informal poll, more would want to see Blade Runner make it. You asked for it, you got it!


The venerable cyberpunk classic made it! It barely made it, but it’s on the list! I know many would have preferred to see it higher, like top ten, but just getting on the list is a major accomplishment in itself, as now it can stand along side movies like Star Wars and Citizen Kane as a great American film. If you were watching, you would have heard Harrison Ford (Deckard) call it “urban science fiction” and even seen a commercial for the Final Cut edition. Replicants and sympathizers, rejoice!



The Stanley Kubric classic makes a return to AFI’s big list. This masterpiece of pre-cyberpunk cinema has been warping minds since its release in 1971 when it nearly got an X-rating for its content. If you have the DVD, you have the full X-rated version of the gem.

While A Clockwork Orange still being on the list will come as good news, there is some bad news for the classic: It has fallen from #46 since the first listing, beaten out by films like The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.


What? No Matrix??: The impact of these films on cyberpunk cannot be denied and deserve a place on the list; Blade Runner giving cyberpunk its look and feel and its transhuman themes, while The Matrix gave mostly technical innovations like “bullet time” that will be copied for years to come, but it also offered cyber-religious themes as pointed out in SFAM’s essay on The Matrix Trilogy: A Man-Machine Interface Perspective. I was certain that The Matrix would have made the list, but it seems the “experts” didn’t feel that it was good enough.

Some might question why films like The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Ghost In The Shell, and Sneakers haven’t made the list. The AFI represents American film makers, so GITS is not considered (it’s Japanese); Sneakers, while a good film, hasn’t had much impact on culture so much as reflecting hacker culture at the time; The Terminator movies, probably because the AFI doesn’t consider action movies “artistic” enough for such a list of legends. :P


Future AFI Lists and Cyberpunk Films: Certainly, there will some controversy over the results; Why The Matrix didn’t make it and why Blade Runner came in so low. In ten years AFI will do the list again, and maybe the cyberpunk films will get the recognition they deserve… and could possibly include Neuromancer as well. Hopefully, there will be enough recognition of cyberpunk films by the “experts” to give the genre its due.

This post has been filed under Essays by Mr. Roboto.


June 21, 2007

SFAM said:

Good thing films like “Tootsie,” “Do the Right Thing” and “Sixth Sense” made it in, ey? Seriously though, when films like Frankenstein, From Here to Eternity, and Rebel Without a Cause and Fantasia are dumped off the list for movies like these, its hard to complain too much about the Matrix. I’m pretty thrilled that Blade Runner made it, even if just barely.

Additionally, I think we can dub this list the “Dump on Bogie” list. Every one of his movies dropped, in some cases, dropped significantly (Mutiny on the Bounty dropped off altogether and African Queen went from #17 to #65).

Klaw said:

Yeah SFAM it’s a little silly seeing some of the films that did make the list. For those that didn’t catch the program on CBS last night they snuck in a trailer for BR, here’s a link to download:

or YouTube:

SFAM said:

I LOVED the trailer. Can’t wait for the movie! I’ll definitely be there opening night! I would love to know how many minutes were added/deleted.

Fnordotron said:

Hey you forgot to mention A Clockwork Orange at number 70. Arguably a cyberpunk movie…

SFAM said:

Hi Fnordotron, that’s an excellent point! At least we also got a pre-cyberpunk flick on there.

June 22, 2007

Mr. Roboto said:

I’m going to watch A Clockwork Orange this weekend. If it’s cyberpunk enough, I’ll update this post to show it’s place on the list.

Klaw said:

Yeah it’s pre-cyberpunk only by the lack of tech at the time… it’s definitely an early scifi dystopia… and certainly any image of Gibson’s street life is infused with Clockwork Orange type underground activity… smart drugs, ultaviolence etc. And certainly Blade Runner’s cityspeak owes much to Burgess’ incredible Russian-English fused vocabulary that we get in the film. I remember reading the book and it was like Dune, forcing you to use the dictionary in the back at first, until you get completely immersed in the story.

June 26, 2007

TJ said:

A Matrix comment…

Have you ever had a piece of corporate press BS, Neo, that you were so sure was real? What if you were unable to wake from that corporate press nightmare? How would you know the difference between the corporate press world and the real world?

SFAM said:

Wow, TJ. Was that a round-a-bout way of saying you don’t think much of AFI’s lists? If so, I’m giving it a D-. If not, I’m afraid I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.

June 28, 2007

solidoctor said:

The Matrix is shit. Not that AFI’s list means anything.. I just think The Matrix is horribly overrated and most cyberpunk “fans” that like it, didn’t even know the genre existed before watching The Matrix. Screw it.

June 29, 2007

SFAM said:

Thanks for the terrific insight, Solidoctor. I agree, nobody ever heard of films like Blade Runner, Robocop, Akira, and all the rest until they watched the Matrix, right? Um, not…

July 28, 2007

A Clockwork Orange said (pingback):

[…] show A Clockwork Orange’s place in history, I’ve edited the AFI 100 years, 100 movies post. Filed under Dystopic Future Movies, 8 Star Movies, Awesome Cyberpunk Visuals, Surreal […]

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