I’ve always wanted to check this movie out, but because of reviews that claimed it was too long, boring, and lacking in action, I’ve pushed it further and further on my personal queue. But after checking it out from the library almost four weeks ago, I finally sat down and watched one of the greatest visual journeys I’ve taken via cinema. So hop on board the Trehern-bullet time travelin' speeder to Los Angeles, 2019.
Now if you’re anything like me, the greatest thing about a movie is its storyline. Blade Runner meets the criteria of a great tale, basing the movie off the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and also manages to tell it with the visual arts. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a blade runner, a futuristic cop who hunts down rogue cyborgs called Replicants. These Replicants look, feel and seem almost identical to human beings, except they cannot express emotion. They were originally created as slave labor on Earth’s space colonies (created perhaps because of the failing Earth environment and over-population, an issue less prominent in 1982 than it is today), but became so advanced that they would start to ask questions, form emotions and rebel against their human masters. For this reason, the Replicants were given a 4-year lifespan to prevent the emotional evolution they would eventually go through.
So that brings us back to Deckard. He goes on a mission to hunt down four rogue Replicants on Earth. He uses a series of tests and questions and a retina viewing machine to smoke them out, and finds them out one by one, until his final battle with the leader of the group: Roy.
Another great aspect of films, the characters in this film were there, and they had history, we just didn’t get to see it. Is this for the better? Is knowing a character has an unknown history better than knowing every single incident in that person’s (or Replicant’s) life? In any case, Deckard is a really bad-ass character: a troubled cop with no inclination to hunt anymore Replicants. Why? We never find out. But he gets the job done. Some questions that were posed during my viewing: Why does Deckard get the shakes when he fights a Replicant? Is he the only blade runner in town, or the best? Why is he the best?
Rachel is also an interesting addition to the cast. She is a Replicant, but doesn’t know it. Tyrell (the owner of Tyrell Corp. which manufactures the Replicants) induced memories into her brain, allowing her to feel like she had evolved emotionally like a human being, but without the time span. Deckard reveals to her that she is not human, and that these memories are that of Tyrell’s niece. You can’t help but feel emotionally attached to this character, because she has as much emotion as any other human, except she is different. She responds like a human, gets scared when she kills Leon like a human, and loves Deckard like a human. Therefore, isn’t she really alive? Who’s to say she’s not human? How would we know?
Some have contemplated that Deckard himself was a memory-induced Replicant, because he really had no idea of knowing. I didn’t get this reaction from the film. Deckard was just out to kill some baddies and get the girl, who he accepted in the end as human. THAT was the bigger question, I thought: Will Deckard accept Rachel as a human being, even though she isn’t?
Roy was an interesting character for one reason: he asked questions. The only thing that made him a bad guy was the way he got his answers. He wanted to know how long he had to live. He wanted to know what these new emotions he was feeling were. He wanted to touch his creator. Roy doesn’t differ from us in any way. We all have childlike outlook towards a new world, we all fear the unknown of death and we all wish to touch the hand that delivered life into us and speak with Him (or Her). He, like Rachel, suffers the strain of emotion while knowing full well they are not suppose to express them.
The music was composed, produced and performed by Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou (Vangelis for short). It was dark and synthesized, and fit the story and environment perfectly. The visual effects were intensified even more because of this fantastic score. If I were to place it in a genre, it would probably fit the futuristic dystopian-noir genre you see so often in your FYEs nowadays.
Visual Effects and Blade Runner Society
This was the highlight of the film. Deckard’s world is neo-industrialized with overwhelming Eastern themes. The city-scapes were beautiful, if only to avert the mind to society’s inherent flaws. Further, although technology had advanced (Tyrell’s home, hovercraft vehicles), society had fallen into some sort of fear-based dystopia. Citizens look over their shoulders, never knowing when a Replicant will present itself. The skies are red and orange, with the hyper-pollution that has (and surely will) digress this future world. However, the best way to experience 2019 L.A. is by watching the movie.
All in all, a great film that touches the mind of the viewer on a strong philosophical level. Not only do you walk away with questions, but you enjoy the fact that it is up to you to answer them. Blade Runner prepares us for the choices we make as a human race (how do we go about bettering society and that of mankind?) and at the same time, it reminds us why we exist (to live life for all it’s worth regardless of the time you have left…).
Author Note: For those of you who enjoy movie based novels and wish to continue on with Deckard's journey, JW Jeter has written officially recognized literary sequels to the film Blade Runner. I would take on these for my reading list, but I have a more evolved taste.