WolfmanOz at the Movies #83

Tears in rain.

Released in 1982, there were high expectations for Blade Runner. Directed by Ridley Scott it was his next film after the hugely successful science fiction horror classic Alien. Anticipation was extremely high but Blade Runner underperformed in North American theatres and polarised many critics; some praised its thematic complexity and visuals, while others critiqued its slow pacing and lack of action.

Blade Runner would later became a cult film, and has since come to be regarded as one of the greatest science fiction films ever made. Hailed for its production design depicting a high-tech but decaying future, the film is often regarded as both a leading example of neo-noir cinema as well as a foundational work of the cyberpunk genre. 

Blade Runner describes a future in which, through genetics, artificial humans are manufactured and called “replicants”; employees in dangerous jobs and slaves in the outer colonies of the Earth. Made by the Tyrell Corporation under the motto “more human than human”; especially the Nexus-6 models, which not only resembles humans, they are far superior physically.

The replicants were declared illegal on planet Earth after a bloody mutiny occurred on the planet Mars, where they worked as slaves. A special police force, Blade Runners, is in charge of identifying, tracking and killing, or retiring, the fugitive replicants found on Earth.

Set in 2019 Los Angeles, Blade Runner zooms in on the eerily-lit, urban streets of the city and follows Rick Deckard, superbly played by Harrison Ford, who brings an exquisite moral ambiguity to his character, a special Blade Runner who tracks down and terminates the artificially-created humans replicants, who have escaped from an Off-World colony and made their way to earth and need to be stopped. The things Deckard encounters on his detective journey raise many philosophical questions like: Who is really a replicant ? Are replicants really evil ? If replicants are evil, why then did we go to such lengths with our technology to create them ? Are replicants really humans ? Is Deckard a hero ? Is Deckard a replicant ? This truly is a film that demands subsequent discussions and its ambiguous ending leaves the viewer with a haunting and eerie feeling.


In spite of a rich glaze of science fiction and futurism coating this adventure, there are distinct film noir elements present primarily in the bluish haze that the film is seen through and its gritty urban atmosphere. Whoever thought of this combination is a genius. The score by Vangelis is magnificently gripping when combined with the film’s striking cinematography by Jordan Cronenweth and the practical special effects are still simply stunning.

Ridley Scott fantastic dark cyberpunk style and futuristic design is so well made and accomplished to create a visual vocabulary: neon lights, abandonment, decay, loneliness, obscurity, indifference and alienation are the core of the aesthetics of the film, which will eventually become and serve as a pattern for successive cinematographic works.

The script David Webb Peoples adapted from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep ? by Philip K. Dick, takes the viewer into a deeper and philosophical controversy, as it creates doubt and empathy to the so called replicants, primarily as seen in many shots of Rick Deckard hesitating about the true nature of his task.

Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer haunts the attention into the essence of the story. Their characterisation throughout infiltrates the different conceptions of life. A saddened soul searching for the meaning of his punished existence and the other, ruminating a task sinking him into a moral void brimming with guilt.

Rutger Hauer gave the performance of his life as Roy Batty the leader of the rebel replicants. He imbues the character with a striking menace but with an intelligence that goes far beyond what you would normally expect. His torment and rage when he finally meets his maker Eldon Tyrell is especially memorable.


And of course Hauer delivers one of cinemas finest death scenes where Batty faced with his inevitable demise displays a love of life, all life, that is truly astonishing in one of the great monologues in movie history.


There are seven different versions of Blade Runner that have been shown, either to test audiences or theatrically. The best known versions are the Workprint, the US Theatrical Cut, the International Cut, the Director’s Cut, and the Final Cut. It is now generally regarded that the Final Cut (released in 2007) is the definitive version.

The film is dreamlike, experimental, industrial and just pure magic. When a film is this flawed and yet still floors absolutely everyone with its power to command and its ability to influence and yet still stand alone, it’s clearly worthy of the praise and the acclaim. There are very few cyberpunk movies and even less good ones. Blade Runner is simply the best one. It’s also a work of art and one of the best movies ever made.


and the tease for next weeks post . . . Opening credits.

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September 14, 2023 7:37 am

Standard for my teenage years video nights with the mates.
Every other video shocker on earth but always a rewatch of Blade Runner.
And as with the best film noir the ending is ambiguous, and the good guy I’s ” dirtied” by his win.

September 14, 2023 8:06 am

Great film Wolfman. I like the symbolism of the white dove appearing and flying away. As if Roy was human and his soul was escaping this earthly plane.

Blade Runner is on World Movies tonight. Great coincidence.

Fair Shake
Fair Shake
September 14, 2023 8:10 am

One of my favourite movies. Agree the Vangelis sound track is haunting and surreal.
I am also a fan of the sequel. I think it stands up well. Not quite in the league of the first but v good.

Time to Die.

September 14, 2023 8:19 am

“It’s too bad she won’t live – but then again, who does?”

My favourite line from the film. Incidentally, I watched it a couple months ago and that version didn’t include the very last scene where Deckard and Rachael fly off into the sunset across a pristine wilderness, which was disappointing.

September 14, 2023 8:29 am

Side note – have you read Bladerunner? The book about folks running medical supplies in a dystopian world/future.

Bladerunner the movie is the benchmark for all future worlds in so many movies and TV shows now, I love it.

Spinning Mouse
Spinning Mouse
September 14, 2023 8:39 am

The slowness of the film is one of the appeals for me. Same for the sequel.

The Bungonia Bee
The Bungonia Bee
September 14, 2023 8:57 am

Behold the future:
“Is that a real snake?”
“Do you think I could afford a real snake on what they pay me here?”

September 14, 2023 11:17 am

One of my greats.
The set design is wonderful and so much better than
sticking someone in front of a chroma key background.
The glass matte work has a visual heft superior to most modern CGI.
However, the computer animation lifted from Alien
always bugs me.
Although not as much as the half-arsed cutaway of the dove.
The money must have run out.

Bruce of Newcastle
Bruce of Newcastle
September 14, 2023 11:19 am

Excellent piece Wolfman. I must watch it again!

Two marriages were made in heaven: westerns and science fiction gave us Star Wars, and noir gumshoe movies plus scifi gave us Bladerunner.

We’ve had many more of the former than the latter, sadly. I would love to see such detective stories as Azimov’s Caves of Steel and Niven’s Gil the Arm made into movies. The latter is prophetic given that organlegging is now real. And you could do Gil Hamilton’s psi talent so easily now with modern CGI.

September 14, 2023 11:49 am

Don’t forget Outland in the Western/SciFi canon.

September 14, 2023 1:36 pm

Fantastic choice – also one of my favourites.

I didn’t really gel with the sequel on first viewing, but it’s grown on me.

‘K’ gains and loses so much over the course of the film you can’t help but feel for him; then he does that one final act of humanity for Deckard and his daughter.

September 14, 2023 1:37 pm

If you like slow burning Sci-Fi, Ex-Machina is another one to remember.

Louis Litt
September 14, 2023 10:01 pm

Host Bucholz is a fag Rutiger Hauer returns the German to his place in the world – a villian.
BTW how many of you males went to have your hair frosted after seeing this movie

September 15, 2023 12:12 am

Ridley Scott has directed quite a number of interesting, even enthralling, films (some dross too, of course, but then again, which director hasn’t).

While Blade Runner is a disturbing comment on the age-old theme of sentient machines and our uneasy ambiguity towards them, I think Alien is the most unsettling sci-fi film I’ve seen – and I do wish any and all of the sequels (except perhaps Covenant) had never been made as they just demean the original. Especially that sequel directed by the flashy, superficial, cynical Cameron.

Alien of itself presents a slowly unfolding terror common to all people – an alien intelligence with superior technology and an unwavering fixated hatred of earthly humans. Naturally, we ask the question: “What did we do ?” The only answer is the deliberate attempt to inflict a terrifying, unstoppable plague upon us. In the logic of the film, humans were just lucky that the alien technology had a flaw, causing the threat to just drift in space. (That flaw is shown in Covenant).

September 15, 2023 12:33 pm

A great, great movie that only gets more relevant as the entanglement of humans and AI grows.

Now if only there could be an equally great movie based on one of Phillip k dicks stories which also strike at the confusion on what it is to be human

September 15, 2023 4:12 pm

Like the original it tanked at the box office.

I like this comment – it could be that both of the Blade Runner movies simply don’t offer the quick dopamine fix that action-based sci-fi movies usually do. Much less the super rich sugar-hit of anything in the “Marvel” universe of fillums.

But the questions remain …

Am I good or evil? Whose memories are these and are they real, copied or faked? Am I even human? Does it matter if everything dies, or stops living, anyway?

September 16, 2023 4:20 am

All those moments lost like tears in rain. Time to die.

I didn’t get it when i watched it 40 years ago.

September 16, 2023 9:42 pm

Wolfman> I based the comment about box office failure for original Blade Runner on its reported revenue ($14m) vs cost ($28m). Guess no matter the numbers it was influential considering its tiny budget.

September 17, 2023 8:01 am

Please review Chevalier and Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.

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