We now turn the skinematic spotlight on a specific film, trend or series that highlights conditions of the skin, hair and nails...

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1997 marks the 15th anniversary of the release of "Blade Runner", the influential science fiction thriller directed by Ridley Scott.

 
 
 
The film is set in an apocalyptic Los Angeles of 2019 and features all categories of dermatology in the cinema.
 
 
ACTORS
 
 
Actors with skin conditions include star Harrison Ford with a prominant traumatic scar on his chin.
 
 
 
 
 
His colleague is portrayed by Edward James Olmos, seen here with acne scars.
 
 
EVIL
 
Ford and Olmos are Blade Runners, police in search of evil androids known as replicants.
 
All of the evil replicants show abnormalities of the skin hair and nails.
 
 

 This violent android has thinning of the frontal scalp hair, a type of male pattern alopecia (hair loss). He is not pleased.
 Zhora, the snake charming stripper, has a snake tattoo on her cheek.

 

 

 Rutger Hauer's character, while not technically albino, does have light hair, eyes and skin that suggest albinism.

 Daryl Hannah portrays another evil replicant with white hair. Known as poliosis, hair without pigment can result from several conditions, including albinism and vitiligo.

 

 

 In the film, as the androids reach the end of their lifespan, the color of their nails changes. In the real world, nail color can change because of infection, medicines or rare tumors.
 
 
 
REALISM
 
Finally, this character, one of the inventors of the replicants, has a fictional condition known in the movie as Methusulah's disease. The description is similar to progeria, a rare syndrome where skin changes associated with aging are accelerated. Note the fine wrinkles that sun exposure, not just years alone, can create. Though not suffering from a true disorder, this character is portrayed realistically and sympathetically, pathetic perhaps but not malicious.
 
Thus "Blade Runner" features several skinematic examples from actors to evil to reality. An intriguing and visually stunning film even without the skin findings.
 
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© 1999 Vail Reese M.D.