started this project, if anybody asked me for my favorite movie, my default
answer would have been “Blade Runner”. Some 700 movies down the line and some
amazing movies under the belt, I am not so certain anymore and yet, “Blade
Runner” continues to have that special in my heart. Last night’s revisit
confirmed that. As if I needed confirmation. I doubt there is any movie I have
watched as many times as “Blade Runner”. I know the dialogue line for line and
there was a period where I would put the soundtrack on every night before going
to bed. Yeah, I am a fanboy.
who have watched this less than a hundred times, “Blade Runner” takes place in
2019, yup, four years ago, but also 37 years into the future as seen from 1982.
The Earth is a messed up place, ruined, presumably, by pollution, and humanity
has gone into space. Artificial humans, replicants, have been constructed to cope
with hardships in space, but on Earth they are outlawed. A special unit of
policemen, blade runners, seek them out and retire them. Rick Deckard (Harrison
Ford) is such a blade runner.
A group of
replicants have returned to Earth and are trying to gain access to the Tyrell
corporation, the company who makes the replicants. For safety reasons
replicants have a lifespan of only four years and this group is trying to do
something about that. Deckard is tasked to find them and retire them.
impression is that “Blade Runner” is a neo-noir. A classic private eye story with
femme fatale’s, uncertain plots and a dystopian world. The cinematic version
even had the cliché voice-over. Something later editions thankfully ditched.
This narrative is actually the least interesting thing about the movie. Philip
below this narrative we find a number of allusions to what it means to be
human, a religious fable of the children of God seeking out their maker to
challenge him with their lot and a paradise lost tale of Eve biting the forbidden
fruit and losing her place in Eden. The wonderful thing about “Blade Runner” is
that it is so open to interpretation and leaves clues everywhere. My personal
favorite is the sub-plot around Rachel (Sean Young) who start out as an aloof
and almost mechanical human, but as she discovers she is herself a replicant,
she loses the disciplined surface and reveals her humanity, symbolized by
letting her hair out and allowing Deckard to come in. The lost son motif
featuring the replicant Roy (Rutger Hauer) is also very strong with him using a
“saint” (J.F. Sebastian, Wiliam Sanderson) to gain access to his creator, who
is a lonely creature in the forbidding and aloof Tyrell headquarters, i.e. God.
element I love more than anything in the movie is the ambience. Yes, it is
dystopian, but there is a deep pervading melancholia that gets deep under the
skin, strongly driven by the soundtrack and a phenomenal cinematography, This
has never ever been done better. Period. When you watch the movie over and
over, you discover all these small gems, pieces of music, décor, ambience, a
mystifying scene here and there, an ambiguous exchange of dialogue, and everything
is so loaded. With meaning, with emotion, with anguish. It is a candy store for
the movie lover and it represents everything that science fictions can do when
it is great and not just an excuse for special effects.
special effects, a lot have been made of the special effects in “Blade Runner”,
but they are different from the usual effect feast. In “Blade Runner” they are
subdued and primarily serve to enhance the ambience of the scene. There are
remarkably few explosions and stunts, but every scene has that little special
effect that takes us to this terrible, hostile and yet very familiar world of “Blade
Runner” has been formative for me. I would not be the same person had it not
been for “Blade Runner”. The best assignment I had in high school was to analyze
“Blade Runner” as a post-modernist type case, for which purpose we watched it
five times in the school’s basement. When I read or watch science fiction, “Blade
Runner” is the golden standard. To me it is not Han Solo chasing replicants, it
is Deckard flying the Millenium Falcon.
may still be my favorite movie of all time.