With long-awaited sequel Blade Runner 2049 fast approaching, we thought it was a good idea to take a look back at the original cult classic that pushed a generation of creative to look at a darker future where the line between man and machine isn’t quite clear anymore.
Blade Runner was released in 1982, starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. Under the keen eye of Ridley Scott, Ford is “Rick Deckard,” a special kind of cop known as a blade runner who tracks down illegal replicants. Replicants are artificially intelligent androids that can mimic life. They mimic life so well, in fact, that they were used as slave labor on other planets and eventually rebelled in a bloody war. This all takes place before the film, though, as we follow Deckard on his hunt of a group of replicants, only to find himself in a struggle between fulfilling his duty and understanding that replicants might be as human as he is.
The film is, in a word, superb. That is, at least, if you are watching the Director’s or Final Cut. When initially released, Blade Runner had a happier ending and was filled with explanatory voice-overs by Ford in an attempt to make the movie more palatable to a wide audience. This was changed in subsequent cuts of the film to better reflect Ridley Scott’s vision, specifically the more ambiguous ending.
Blade Runner shows a world of duality. There is access to amazing technologies, but poverty and hardship are common. The world is lit up like any glorious neo-city should be, but the light becomes an eyesore for both the audience and the characters who prefer the darkness. The music is ethereal and cybernetic, but it always keeps the viewer on edge. I don’t enjoy watching Blade Runner, but I don’t think the audience is supposed to enjoy it, per say.
The film is deceptive and thrives on a slowly building atmosphere. You know many things are wrong, but it takes time to see why. This isn’t a blockbuster sci-fi explosion fest. I think the best way to enjoy Blade Runner is to drop any preconceived notions you might have, turn off the lights, turn up the volume, and buckle into a mystery you may not understand after your first watch.