Enigmatic imperfection

24 Jan

Blade Runner (1982)


I’ve always been firm believer in championing solid writing/story line over visual grandeur, not because I don’t appreciate the visual aspects of cinema, which I do but because cinema needs structure to get the best results. At the end of the day, cinema is about story telling and how the total package will affect you. Not just the individual perk; story, visuals, dialogue, audio, acting, special fx, etc  that stands out but how the sums combined are greater than the parts and ultimately dictate what type of mood the story wants you to feel.

‘Blade Runner’ made sure it overwhelms you with majestic visual world to set the mood of the story but contrary to popular belief, the story holds up as well, otherwise this film wouldn’t stand the test of time. Blade Runner’s dystopian vision of humanoid ‘replicants’ and the theme of immortality, combined with Scott’s future noir vision was so groundbreaking that it took the mainstream by surprise because they couldn’t figure the film out. It was deemed as a total box office flop when it first came out, It was too complex, the pace was too slow, it wasn’t an action/adventure feel good type sci-fi the audience was used seeing, it wasn’t Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (came out at the same time and made more money). Simply put ‘Blade Runner’ was in a class of it’s own.

Ridley Scott doesn’t just create settings, he creates worlds and he’s a master at setting moods. He made sure the audiences are drawn to his worlds because that’s his strength as a filmmaker, to create mood through visuals and backing it up with great story. He could’ve made it more crowd pleasing by infusing faster pace and more action/adventure feel but that would’ve missed the point of ‘Blade Runner’. Great sci-fi stories are not about action sequences or cool gadgets crap, the underlying theme of every great sci-fi story has always been about “What does it mean to be human?” in a different/extreme circumstances. Ridley took his time with the slow pacing because he wanted the audience to immerse with the world he created and to understand what kind of world it was.




‘Blade Runner’ plot is about Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) a tired and burnt out Blade Runner assigned to find escaped replicants –engineered robots who look like humans designed by Tyrell corporation- headed by Roy Batty (Rutger hauer). Batty is seeking a way to extend their lives because replicants only have a four year life span. In the investigation process Deckard meets with the head of corporation, Tyrell (Joe Turkel) and his assistant Rachael (Sean Young). Tyrell reveals that Rachael is a replicant, but she believes she’s human because her memories have been implanted and she’s still in the experimental stage. The deeper Deckard hunts the replicants, the deeper his involvements with Rachael and ultimately how Deckard will see the world through the replicants eyes.

Ridley Scott was in a difficult period when he made ‘Blade Runner’, his brother had died of cancer and it was a traumatic event in his life. Ridley Scott described the film as: “extremely dark, both literally and metaphorically, with an oddly masochistic feel”, the use of future noir as a style and mood; smoggy, rainy world, crowded streets, illuminated by neon lights, people wearing dirty overcoats, the wealthy have left earth leaving Los angeles with people from third world countries, made a point about the disparity of the human conditions.

The future is not fresh and clean. It is damaged, used up, dirty and depleted. Yet, Scott also managed to make it an exotic dream like world where its also cinematically grand and alluring; skyscrapers, hovering vehicles, giant electronic billboards promising a better future, corporation taking over the world, the forbidding ominous presence of the police, the different aspects of traditional cultures from third world countries meshed in with the decaying/worn out futuristic world.

 I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... Time to die.

“All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” – Batty


At the heart of it all though, it still asks the question: “What does it mean to be human?”

The irony is, the replicants are the ones who are yearning to seek answer while the humans/creators are only interested in making the replicants more human like with each subsequent generation and this is the basis underlying sinister theme; humans just don’t know when to stop because we’re in love with our progress/achievements and the consequences don’t really matter anymore. Even more intriguing is the idea that Deckard could actually be one of the replicant, symbolizing by his dreaming of a unicorn and if this was true, it would bring the story to another level of complexity and revelation.

‘Blade Runner’ has been accused by critics in the past as nothing more than a visual feast with no substance but throughout the years those same critics finally acknowledged the importance of the film and in 1993, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. Ridley Scott also admitted ‘Blade Runner’ has been his most complete and personal film to date. I wholeheartedly agree.


4 Responses to “Enigmatic imperfection”

  1. Oni Suryaman January 25, 2013 at 2:22 am #

    I will review the book which this movie is based on, Do Androids Dreams of Electric Sheep? The author, Philip K. Dick, is one of the prophet of science fiction genre.

    But I think I have to re-watch the movie again. It has been decades ago.

    • joegievano January 25, 2013 at 5:22 am #

      If you could, watch the blue ray version because it is the definite Ridley’s version. I’ve also been hearing, he’s gonna do the sequel but I just got the feeling it will be like prometheus; more action/adventure type which is understandable, because studio invest shit loads of money and they want to see profit but still I hope it won’t go to that direction.

  2. dirtywithclass January 28, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    Great writeup. Its a awesome film that i may give rewatch sometime(My memory of it isn’t a %100)

    • joegievano January 29, 2013 at 4:39 am #

      thanks, it gets better after repeated viewings (like all classic films).

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