Blade Runner - 1982
Blade Runner is directed by Ridley Scott as he was coming off his 1977’s hit Alien. Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples loosely based his screenplay on the 1968 novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick. The movie stars Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah, Sean Young and Joe Turkel. The movie is set in the future in where a special task force of police officers, called Blade Runners, are in charge of hunting down rogue bioengineered beings known as replicants. The story follows Decker, played by Harrison Ford, a retired Blade Runner, pulled back in to the job so he can hunt down 4 replicants.
Look, I will be upfront before I get into my full review. I love this movie, I’m just not IN love with this movie. I completely understand why must audiences and critics are in love with this movie, but I still can’t bring myself to blindly fall in love. There are a million and one reviews out there so mine will be short and sweet. Let me walk you through my reasoning, because there is a lot to love in this movie.
Ridley Scott, along with cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth, created a visual masterpiece. The mix of natural lighting and neon lights gave the film a familiar yet alien atmosphere. One of my favorite sequences comes during Decker’s first encounter with Rachel, played by Sean Young. This sequence completely contrasts the neo noir world we had been living in for the first 15-20 minutes of the movie. This is shot with the light coming in from the massive windows surrounding them. Rachel’s introduction is combined with lights flickering in an out of her face, as if she was standing in front of a body of water looking at her reflection, i.e. Decker. This type of lighting is never used again, further making it a stand-out in my head.
Quick note: Fancher originally wanted a straight noir movie, having limited locations as the movie mainly followed the detective and his interrogations. Peoples was brought in to punch up the script adding more locations and action sequences to the final product
What I truly love about this movie is the use of symbolism throughout the entire runtime. The use of eyes as being the primary way to identify a replicant is poignant. Eyes have endless meanings in literature, religions and in cultures, making it an easy for the audience to connect with the message. What does it mean to be human? Many view the eyes as the gateway to the soul or to the real personality of a human, and making this the telltale sign of humanity in the movie further pushes the question we are faced with. If the replicants have emotions, dreams and admissions, are they human, even if their eyes betrayed them?
Another great symbol Fancher and Peoples wove in the script was the replicants obsession with photographs. This is ever more present in today’s society thanks to social media platforms. We live in a society in where our life, our personality and our worth is almost weighed by the photos we post on these platforms. For example, you identify yourself as a “foodie” so the vast majority of your posts is to prove this claim, with pic after pic of either “cool” looking food items, or you almost taking a bite out of one. Stop it, just eat it. Replicants are attached to their photos because they are “proof” of their humanity, their memories, and that they had a life prior to the day in question. Rachel shows Decker a photo she carries with her from when she was a child, trying to prove to herself and to him she had a childhood, she is human.
Quick note: this also ties in beautifully with Hauer’s monologue, “tears in the rain”. Once we are gone, only our memory and our photos will live on, we will just cease to exist.
While I always enjoy my viewings of this film, I always have the same qualms surrounding it. The pacing suffers a little when the Sabastian character is introduced. I never buy into the shoehorned romance between Decker and Rachel. But my biggest qualm is the voice over narration. With a movie so deliberate in its use of symbolisms, you don’t need Ford telling you exactly what is happening, happened, or is about to happen. Just show it to the audience and trust them to understand the events that unfolded.
I’m not breaking ground by saying Blade Runner is a great movie and it deserves all the praise it gets. The use of mate paintings, miniature-building and trick lighting to create this bleak yet beautiful future is beyond impressive. The acting is on point and the dialogue challenges the audience to think about what it means to be a human. This is a movie that deserves multiple viewings since you will always walk away with a new nugget of appreciation for the work of art it is. Making people question their beliefs is why I love movies.
Blade Runner is available to rent on multiple streaming services. Honestly it deserves a buy, before the rain takes it away.
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