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.