Thursday, 1 July 2010

Blade Runner

Welcome! This is my first ever blog so I thought it would be best to start with a classic and a favourite of mine (and also arguably the greatest science fiction movie ever made.)

Blade Runner was directed by Ridley Scott in 1982 and starred Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer. The film is based (fairly loosely may I add) on a science fiction novel called "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" by the brilliant Phillip K Dick. Dick was a visionary author who has inspired many on screen adaptations over the years, such as Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly, Total Recall and Screamers (but the less said about the last one the better).

The story (set in the November of 2019) centres around Rick Deckard (Ford), who's occupation is a Blade Runner. A 'Blade Runner' is basically a bounty hunter for androids (or as they are referred to in the movie "replicants" or even more informally "skin jobs.") There are four replicants on earth who have escaped from an off-world colony and have returned for certain reasons, unbeknownst to Deckard. Finding them is no simple task as, at this point in the future, manufacturers can painstakingly make replicants "more human than human."So begins Deckard's journey to find four slightly different needles in a stack of needles...only these needles are intelligent and scared replicants. They are led by the most enigmatic and intelligent amongst them, Roy Batty (Hauer.)

Blade Runner carries some interesting and thought provoking themes such as what it is to be human (are we just the sum of our parts or more than the flesh and bone from which we are made) and also coming to terms with ones own end ("the candle that burns twice as bright, burns half as long.") The whole story is wrought with uncertainty - even Deckard's own humanity is questioned at several points (HINT - look at the eyes of the replicants and Deckard in the final cut.)

The book is also definitely worth reading, as it not only covers the themes of the movie but also touches upon issues of social status and religion (the main religion in the novel is a Sisyphean religion called 'Mercerism', in which people all share consciousness with a man perpetually walking up a hill whilst being hit with rocks. They do this via contraptions called empathy boxes - which I guess can only be described as a virtual link to one's own deity.) People can also "order" an emotion using a gadget on their wrist which secretes various drugs and neurotransmitteres into the wearers blood stream. Such concepts are typical of Phillip K Dick's novels, which tend to put a bleak cyberpunk twist on contemporary issues.

There have been three main cuts to this movie - the original cut (complete with awful, unnecessary and quite patronising narration), the director's cut (a rough diamond) and the final cut which was recently released. The final cut is really a masterpiece, it realises the full potential of the movie and brings it to the forefront with remastered picture and sound quality along with certain extended and added scenes. The added scenes are in no way integral to the plot of the movie, being mainly of the tarnished, polluted cityscape or panning shots of it's patchwork, melting pot society. But I do believe the added footage assists the flow of the movie and adds to it's brooding atmosphere. Basically, if you're going to buy it then this should be the version you choose - it really is a treat for the eyes.

The thing that I personally love about this film is it's combination of styles. What I mean by this is that Blade Runner is essentially a detective, film noir piece - smokey, dimly lit bars, ambient background jazz music, Deckard even has one of those stereotypical, brown, 1930s detective trench coats! Yet this is seamlessly juxtaposed with a dystopian, futuristic, polluted and drab earth. Perhaps it is the brown and teal tones of this drab world which allows other, rather old fashioned elements, to merge so well with it. Either way I have never seen it done as well in any other movie. Visually the dystopia described by Dick and brought to the screen by Scott is beautifully complex and imperfect, without a doubt being hugely influential on movies ever since (Battle Royale, Children of Men, Brazil and Akira to name a few). I would also say that more realistic, or even pessimistic, views of the future are far more rich and interesting than polished, chrome plated ones.

In fact, Blade Runner's future earth of socioeconomic turmoil was created so well that it is often thought of as the origin of bleak, futuristic styles in cinema (although it most definitely wasn't - movies such as Soylent Green, Escape from New York and Fahrenheit 451 come to mind.)

So in summary Blade Runner was revolutionary in it's own unique way, utilising styles and themes well established in previous films. Harrison Ford manages to bring that humerous yet slightly bitter, world weary edge to Deckard, which is exactly what he is famed for and good at (although I would say that Deckard is more of the latter than either Han Solo or Indiana Jones). The dialogue in the movie is effortlessly cool and alluring, certain quotes really stand out - e.g. "replicants are like any other machine - they're either a benefit of a hazard. If they're a benefit it's not my problem", "if only you could see what I've seen with your eyes" and Roy Batty's "tears in rain" monologue near the end.

This film has managed to avoid becoming dated even though it is almost thirty years old and, although I have seen this film more times than I can remember, it has never lost it's mystique and charisma. There are literally whole books on the movie's visual style and philosophical connotations, so it would be impossible for me to really do it justice in a blog. But needless to say it comes highly recommended, especially to fans of thought provoking science fiction.

Thanks for reading my first ever blog! Any thoughts or comments would be most appreciated. Also, any ideas for further movie blogs will be taken on board.

See you soon


  1. this is really good! i'm def going to give blade runner a watch now, but keep it light boy! it was an essay :P :) keep up the good work!

  2. I thought I'd leave my first comment, as I've just become a follower. I've also added your site on my list of movie blogs. Feel free to follow/link to my blog:

    Discovered your blog at imdb: wendy and lucy.
    By the way, leaving comments on other blogs (concluding with your link) is a good way of getting more followers/comments.
    There are several useful "how to get a blog started" articles out there. After 3 months you can also join the LAMB.

    Good review. I've heard of, but never read the novel "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?", but based on your recommendation I've added it to my "to read" list ( :
    I recently reviewed Blade Runner myself and included a summary of the long ‘making of’, which you might be interested in:

  3. Hey, I was directed here by moviesandsongs365 after writing a review of Blade Runner on my own blog and a comparison with Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

    Your review is really great and you raise some very interesting points. It's one of my favourite films too. I like how in every review I read of it, there is something that makes me go "Huh, I never thought of it that way before" - people have so many different views and ideas about it.

    Anyways, keep up the good work. I love your blog name too by the way!

  4. Thanks for commenting on my blog

    I recently discovered 30 min short "I'm Here" (2010) by Spike Jonze. I think theme is similar to Blade runner and Philip K Dick. It's pretty "out there", currently free on youtube. "an alternative world, where robotic humanoids live and work alongside the regular population."
    Might be your cup of tea? If so, let me know what you think ( :

    Just got “electric sheep” from library ( ;

  5. Wow I just watched 'I'm Here', very out there...but I actually kinda liked it :). Quite an original little film, thank you for sharing!

    I hope you enjoy "electric sheep", I certainly did :) x