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The Blade Runner / Star Wars References

Originally Written By: Aaron Brinkley
Updated By: Richard Gunn

With the well known appearance of Blade Runner's police spinners in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, a lot of questions have arisen regarding the cross references between Blade Runner and Star Wars. The main one being, "Where is the Star Wars reference in Blade Runner?". In this article I will tell you exactly where you can find the Star Wars in Blade Runner and the Blade Runner in Star Wars.

Blade Runner

A model of Han Solo's ship from the original Star Wars trilogy, the Millenium Falcon, was used as a futuristic building in several scenes throughout the film. Model Maker William George had been scratch-building the model in his spare time for his own amusement. During the filming of Blade Runner, the model making team was desperate to get more buildings into the L.A. cityscape. So they took George's five-foot-tall, wood and plastic model, decked it out with etched brass, tubing and fiber optics for illumination and placed into several scenes.

Cinefex #9. Cinefex #9.
These two images from Cinefex #9.

The Falcon/building makes most of its appearances when Gaff and Deckard are flying in the police spinner to the police station. The Falcon is standing on it's tail end and has a large platform with towers and spires on the nose. So as you looking at the building from the side, you'll be seeing a top (or bottom) view of the ship. Also the cockpit has been removed from the side so it's harder to recognize.

The first time it appears is in the scene just after Leon has shot Holden at the beginning of the film. A spinner is flying towards the viewer. It passes a large lighted advertising billboard, which is on the right side of the screen. To the left you can see the Falcon/building.

Falcon on the left.
The Falcon is partially obscured on the left (green outline).
The building outlined in red is actually one of the side-buildings from the Tyrell pyramid.

The next time we see the Falcon/building is in the high overhead shot of Gaff's police spinner lifting off. When you see the building with the "NUYOK" sign on the right, the Falcon is the dark building in the left foreground. It's hard to see much detail and is almost unrecognizable.

The most visible appearance occurs when Gaff and Deckard are in the spinner. Just before they land on the police building, there is a shot looking through the spinner window between Deckard and Gaff. Pay attention because at the beginning of the next shot you can see the Falcon. It is the large building in the foreground. The camera passes almost directly over it to reveal the police tower behind it. When the view starts to rotate around the police tower and the spinner comes into view, you've gone too far.

Falcon in foreground.
Here the Falcon building is in the foreground with the shape of the Falcon outlined in green.

Star Wars

While creating the vast, computer-generated metropolis of Coruscant for 1999's Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, visual effects supervisor John Knoll approved the insertion of two CG police spinners into a night scene on the city-planet. Knoll recently told Star Wars Insider magazine, "Since there's a Star Wars reference in Blade Runner, I thought it would be fun to have a little Blade Runner in Star Wars."

The shot looks down at the Queen's Royal Starship on a landing platform as numerous other ships zip past. The scene lasts only a few seconds and therefore it is nearly impossible to see the tiny spinners against the lights of the buildings. With the release of The Phantom Menace on video, you can spend all the time you want trying to find them. However, I don't believe they are visible in the pan & scan (full screen) version of the video. You will need the widescreen version to see them.

One of the best pictures of an Episode 1 spinner appears in issue #48 of Star Wars Insider magazine.

alt text

The spinner is so small and hard to see, even the magazine got it wrong! As several BladeZone staff members and fans have discovered, the spinner is not the vehicle indicated by the arrow. It is actually further to the left as seen below.

alt text

According to a submission to, "There are actually 2 Spinners hidden away in one of the Coruscant shots in Phantom Menace. Someone bugged John Knoll to stick a couple into one of the city shots, so one of the Mac guys put a couple into one of the last shots they did.

They're impossible to see unless you know exactly where to look, but they're in a shot of the landing platform where the camera starts out pointing almost straight down and tilts up as one of those flying busses goes by. One of the spinners is on the left side of frame and other is in the lower right corner."

Spiner 1 Spinner 2

But that's not all. 'Kahuna' reports on his Episode One Easter Eggs site . . . "I analyzed the movie and found the two that were submitted - plus one more! Here's the third one . . .

Spinner 3

I hope this clears up any confusion regarding these mysteries. Now get your Blade Runner and Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace videos out and have fun finding the references.

Aaron Brinkley

*** Update by Richard Gunn ***

Having bought The Phantom Menace on DVD recently, I decided to have look for the Spinners and see if I could get some better images for this Bladezone article. Having looked at the whole scene very carefully, I have come to the conclusion that there are only two Spinners and after receiving an email from Julien Rigal, I am convinced that the LAPD HQ building also makes an appearance (or at least a tribute to it).

Here are the DVD grabs. I've purposely kept the images small - I'm hoping that because of their size we won't be asked to remove them from the site by Mr Lucas and his legal friends. I've also lightened the images to show the spinners more clearly:

alt text alt text
The first Spinner appears on screen from the very first frame and cuts
across the top-left corner before disappearing.
alt text alt text
The second Spinner appears at the bottom of screen and glides
about two thirds up before the scene changes.
alt text alt text
This tower structure appears in the same scene as the spinners.
It looks very much like the LAPD HQ building from Blade Runner.

I've had a close look at the 'Kahuna' claim and I am convinced that the ship being indicated is not a Spinner. It isn't the same shape as the two Spinners I have shown (it's almost a saucer shape) and doesn't fly in the expected direction - if it was a Spinner then it would have to be flying backwards.

Richard Gunn

Related Articles and Links
Blade Runner Movie Tie-ins Various Spinner Articles Lost and Found
Spinners and Sedans

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