Film: Blade Runner
Director: Ridley Scott
Year Released: 1982
Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah
Available on Netflix Streaming: Yes
Available on Cuevana: Yes
It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again who does?
A very thought provoking question indeed, asked by what literary buffs like to call a leitmotif, a recurring image or in this case, character, who serves to repeatedly develop the themes of the work further. In Blade Runner, director Ridley Scott asks us to ponder some of life’s most perplexing and difficult questions and notions. As a film that constantly reminds us of our mortality and our impermanence, Blade Runner uses more than that just that one leitmotif to drive its points home. However, the significance of the quote when taken in context with respect to the entire film, becomes very clear, especially in the end scene. The character that speaks the line also defines the technique as it gains a much greater poignancy when the viewer sees where this thought is coming from and why it would naturally come from this character.
Welcome to the Future and the Future is not bright.
And it is the characters that make Blade Runner what it is: an extremely deep and satisfying character study of several different mindsets and backgrounds. Scott tells the story of a retro-future Los Angeles where advanced technological breakthroughs have given way to the advent of android beings known as replicants, who save for their increased intelligence, physical ability and dissimilarity with typical human emotion, are absolutely indistinguishable from normal humans. In this grimy and grim looking future-noir world, officials have banned replicants from taking up residence on Earth, after mutinous activity by replicants on off-world colonies. Scott sets up the background of the setting and universe very quickly and plunges into the story of a retired replicant hunter, also known as a Blade Runner, who is asked to complete one last task to hunt down and kill four rogue replicants that have escaped and arrived in Los Angeles. The two leads of the film perform amazingly well; Harrison Ford as the mysterious Blade Runner, Rick Deckard, and Rutger Hauer as the extremely well-developed and terrifying, Roy Batty, the leader of the rogue replicants. As the two main characters, they primarily give weight to the motif of living in fear and overall, the theme or idea of death as inescapable, a haunting close to the countdown of our lives.
Harrison Ford does an excellent job.
In Blade Runner, one can view Rick Deckard as death, assigned to track and exterminate these four replicants or one could alternatively and simultaneously view the limits imposed by genetic engineers as the ultimate fear that constantly reminds us of its impending closeness. See, these replicants have been designed to only last for a few years so they cannot learn over time to develop true emotions and feeling. However, critics have often argued that it is the replicants in this film that feel and display the most heartfelt emotion (anger, fear, grief). I am inclined to agree as we see the desperate Roy Batty, obsessed with finding a way to extend his lifetime and understand his meaning in the world. What does it truly mean to be alive?
In fact, Blade Runner has hardly been examined as an existential piece but with the overarching theme of fear of death, an existential concern or panic can immediately form and it seems to happen with Batty. What is the meaning and significance of a transient human life, here to serve for a few decades, and then be gone forever? Apply that to the even more so decreased lifespan of the replicant counterparts, and the theme of lack of meaning in relation to our short lifespans elucidates itself very brightly. We search for these answers as to who made us and how we came to be and what that means for our current situation…well Batty happens to know all this yet his life still retains this quality of sorrowful regret, a desire that his short but eventful life could have had some meaningful impact and preservation. Certainly, any viewer can see this come to fruition in arguably one of the best scenes in all of cinema history; the climax between Deckard and Batty. The title of this review actually derives from a beautifully ad-libbed line spoken by Batty to Deckard towards the very end of the film. I will not spoil it because one should truly examine the passion of the delivery by Hauer without knowing exactly what he is talking about. The music that plays in that end scene is just magical and mirrors the sentiment of Batty so finely.
The beautiful climax between Deckard and Batty.
Speaking of the music finally, Blade Runner utilizes terrific music to bolster the viewer’s understanding of the future world. Filled with tightly packed roads, street vendors on every corner from every part of the world and large flying projectors, this world is quite unlike the Los Angeles we know today. One aspect of the music that many do not appreciate is its fantastic, global range. Beats can be heard from the tabla, a traditional Indian drum, as well as traditional Chinese-inspired strings, all throughout the film. What makes the sound so unique is composer Vangelis’s use of eighties synthesizers, which add a very techno-pop effect to each and every sound. Percussion and strings are all morphed by this interesting synthesized sound and it creates this effect of foreign and noir influence in a very futuristic manner. In addition, one scene in the film utilizes a changing traffic signal, which audibly instructs pedestrians to “Now Walk,” along with the beat in the background to form an interesting sound to the scene. No doubt, this film has a phenomenal soundtrack and does not just rely on electro beats; it places all sorts of sounds in the context of that overall sound. It is incredible. Listen to Damask Rose if you only choose one!
I have not discussed the visual portion of Blade Runner that much but rest assured, it develops the plot in a very essential way as well. I will allow you to judge it, however, and make what you will out of it. It is truly unique I will say and has served as inspiration for other futuristic, science-fiction films since. That’s what makes Blade Runner such a colossal success; its themes have since appeared in other science fiction films and its pace, slow-building tension and alternatively thought-provoking charm have been used as models for other sci-films as well. Keep in mind, this film slowly builds to its climax but the payoff is extremely rewarding while its speed additionally contrasts heavily with the idea of the film, bringing further attention to the problems of the replicants. That’s where you are headed when you watch this film. It will make you think, second-guess and reassure yourself. Ultimately, where you end up by the end of the film, may be very different each time you view it or vary greatly from another viewer who has seen the film. That’s the magic of Blade Runner. A film that is as open to interpretation as it gets (critics have formed various, different interpretations) and leaves you speechless every time. A moment of our experience that we always remember…one of the few perfect tens in film, in my opinion.
http://www.cuevana.tv/peliculas/875/blade-runner/ (I would recommend this cut)
I’m posting a lot because I love the music in this film!
There you go! Please enjoy!