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Written By: Gary Willoughby
Edited By: Richard Gunn

As with all themes in the film Blade Runner, the eye theme plays a major role, from the first opening scenes, the eye close-up and the Voigt Kampff interview scene with Leon and Dave Holden and throughout the entire film.

The eye Leon's VK test
The eye surveys the Hades cityscape Leon's VK test

Much has been written about the importance of the symbolism the eye plays in the film. Whether the "eye is the window to the soul" or simply a way to reveal the true nature of a "Replicant". Eyes appear in almost every scene.

Along with the importance of the eye are eye glasses, which too are seen throughout the film. I suppose there is no lasik surgery in 2019. Actually, even though corrective eye surgery has been available since the 80's, the surgery has not replaced glasses. Glasses are still with us today and are even more popular and are even a fashion accessory.

A man who contributed much to the popularity to the eye glasses phenomenon during the 60's till today is the designer of "Glasses to the Stars" Dennis Roberts. Mr. Roberts owned the Optique Boutique Stores and besides selling to the general populous, made custom glasses for most of the Movie Stars and Recording Artists and the Rich & Famous. The 60's and 70's came and went, and Stars still want/demand distinctive eye wear from Dennis Roberts.

Even as the 80's wore on it seemed that contact lens and corrective eye surgery seemed destined to do away with eye glasses all together. But a funny thing happened; glasses didn't disappear, then as now glasses have become a part of a person's personality.

With Mr. Roberts' notoriety and success making glasses for such celebrities as Elvis Presley, Elton John, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Sammy Davis Jr., Steve McQueen and recently Steven Spielberg, it was logical that many film makers also turned to him for his artistry in film.

Mr. Roberts is responsible for creating eye glasses for television and motion pictures. He personally designed and made 23 pairs of glasses for Blade Runner. Most of the eye glasses were worn by extras for the atmosphere in the street scenes. Some were a bit more evident such as the glasses Dr. Chew, the maker of replicant eyes, or the glasses Abdul Ben-Hasson, the replicant snake maker. But the glasses that stole the film were worn by Dr. Eldon Tyrell. The glasses were not like anything we had seen before huge multifaceted glasses that gave Joseph Turkel an air of power.

A bit of investigation brought about some other facts about the various Blade Runner glasses. For example the "Punk" glasses with the flashing lights were actually a novelty item sold in the 80's, called "Zany Zappers".

Photos from the Movie Set
Cafe Scene Street Punks Nuns Abdul Ben-Hassan
Cafe Scene Street Punks Nuns Abdul Ben-Hassan

In a recent telephone conversation with Mr. Roberts he revealed that he had made two pairs of "Tyrell" glasses for Blade Runner. He did this because if during filming one pair was broken or lost the "spare" would be substituted and the entire film production would not be brought to a very expensive stand still.

Other similar glasses were given to the prop department for use as "Chews's glasses, and the glasses of Abdul Ben-Hassan. Of course Mr. Roberts did not know how or where the 23 pairs of glasses that he furnished would be used.

The prop department took the glasses, aged and soiled them and customized them to be used in certain scenes. In the case of Chew and Ben- Hassan they made all sorts of attachments and magnifying glasses wherein Dennis was the creator of the individual eyewear.

In the Movie (DVD Grabs)
Chew Tyrell Tyrell Tyrell
Chew in the movie Tyrell in the movie

Deckard was originally to wear glasses as well. See the photograph attached. It is unclear when Deckard was to wear them perhaps when reading the newspaper in front of the Noodle Bar or perhaps when using the Esper or Voigt-Kampff Machine. The glasses were never seen in the film but you must admit they are beautiful and futuristic.

The Glasses Made for Deckard
Deckard's Glasses Deckard's Glasses Deckard's Glasses
Deckard's glasses - never worn in the movie.

Glasses Owned by Gary Willoughby
Tyrell's Spare Glasses Tyrell's Spare Glasses Tyrell's Spare Glasses Gary's Display Model
Tyrell's Spare Pair of Glasses The Tyrell spare glasses
on Gary's display model

The "Tyrell" glasses were a very important prop. I have tried over the years to get a lead on them but I have not been able to trace them so far. However with the discovery of the spare "Tyrell" glasses, I made arrangements with Mr. Roberts to purchase the only glasses uncovered. Comparing the glasses to the film glasses Joseph Turkel wore I noticed a bit of a difference. The spare Tyrell glasses have a slight v on the noses brace, whereas the scene used Tyrell glasses the nose brace is straight. I was very confused at the difference. I told Mr. Roberts I wanted to have the nose brace straighten. His reply was "that this was the way I sent them to the filming", so I was distressed, another mystery. The mystery was solved once I studied the "Original Working Glasses Drawings" I have.

Gary Willoughby's Collection of Sketches
Drawing #01
Several Glasses and notations about the amount of glasses to be made, and interesting note concerning Mr. Turkel's prescription cannot be used for the Tyrell glasses.
Drawing #01 Drawing #02
The Tyrell glasses, "Straiten out from sample", interesting concerning the straightening of the nose brace from the sample or example Dennis Roberts sent to them. "Gold as thin as possible" bi-focal crossed out and tri-focal circled, also comment faceted and tinted, I see that originally the Tyrell glasses were to be tinted.
Drawing #02
Drawing #03
Chew's glasses, in the center of the page to the left is the first rough study of "Chew's" glasses some infrared glasses, and perhaps, the idea for Ben-Hassan's glasses or another idea for Chew's glasses.
Drawing #03 Drawing #04
Deckard's glasses and a comment that went off the page commenting about making some glasses from "green,red and yellow car or bike reflectors.
Drawing #04
Drawing #05
Sebastian glasses, simple drawing of round rather thick lenses with the date 2/26/81 next to it.
Drawing #05 Drawing #06
High-Tech glasses, dark brown molded glasses with bright red lenses.
Drawing #06
Drawing #07
Convex-faceted glasses, this pencil drawing is well drawn and took a bit of time. It has lenses that look like reflectors too.
Drawing #07 Drawing #08
Various glasses, more sketches about possible glasses for the film.
Drawing #08
Drawing #09
Punk glasses, early sketch of the red lighted glasses the punks wore in the film. I can't make out what the drawings at the top refer to.
Drawing #09 Drawing #10
Deckard glasses second idea. This version of the Deckard glasses seem rather owl-like or even look a bit like the Kato mask from "Green Hornet".
Drawing #10

Notice in drawing #2 the large arrow to the nose brace that says "Straiten out from sample" that was the answer. Either Ridley Scott , his staff, or one of the prop men wrote that on the drawing of the Tyrell glasses and had the nose brace changed.

The jest of the drawing is that both Tyrell glasses had a slight v shape in the nose brace but someone had changed it after it left the possession of Mr. Roberts. So I decided to leave the spare glasses alone because I could actually damage the one and only pair. Mr. Roberts advised me not to touch the glasses over and over and that there is not another pair like these anywhere in the Universe. I now agree even though they are slightly different. Both pair were made by the same Italian Optical company, the same size and model.

I am very lucky to have found these glasses and as always I will make a bit of a display for them.

Gary Willoughby

To learn more about the life and times of Dennis Roberts please go to his website, at the link to the right.

Related Articles and Links
Deckard's Shoes The Costumes of Blade Runner The Charles Knode Collection Lost and Found Main Menu

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