Blade Runner

Blade Runner ★★★★★

Probably, one of my all time favourite films ever... Blade Runner! oh but which version.... any! I love them all!

The movie takes place in 2019 or sometime, in a Los Angeles that looks like a futuristic Tokyo, gigantic billboards and LED screens showing smiling Japanese girls drinking Coca-Cola and consuming stuff. The city is dominated by almost inconceivably huge skyscrapers and compact vehicles fly or hover around these buildings. Somethings happened to the sun or earth and its rainy and dull, and (though its not explained well I the film) Certain populations have been migrated to other planets/moons.

The movie stars Harrison Ford as a recently 'retired' detective who moves confidently through the city's mean streets. Laconic, cynical, yet competent he is set a difficult assignment to 'retire' (kill/execute) a group of 'replicants,' artificial people who seem amazingly human, (robots) who have escaped from 'off-world,' and are trying to inflict themselves on Earth.
This story comes from Philip K. Dicks novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" The book exams the differences between humans and thinking machines, and circled warily around the question of memory and consciousness. The special effects were supervised by Douglas Trumbull, whose credits include "2001: A Space Odyssey" and "Silent Running," and who is about as good as anyone in the world at using miniatures, animation, drawings, optical effects and other ways of tricking the eye.
The visual environments created in this film are wonderful to behold, and there's a sense of detail, too; we don't just get the skyways and the monolithic skyscrapers and the sky-taxis, we also get notions about how restaurants, clothes and home furnishing will look in 2020.
The movie's only weakness, however, is that it allows the special effects technology to overwhelm its story. Ford is tough and low-key in the central role, and Rutger Hauer and Sean Young are effective as two of the replicants, but the movie isn't really interested in these people, its more about how we interpret them, which isn't such a bad thing actually. Thin human story line?? Weird, that so much of the movie concerns who is, and is not, human, and what it means to be human anyway. Even one character we can safely assume is human, the reptilian Tyrell, czar of the corporation which manufactures replicants, strikes me as a possible replicant.

The secret of Blade Runner is that Scott's fantastically baroque, future-shock imagery, all dark decay and techno-clutter, effectively becomes the story. As the layers of mood and detail settle in, the very process by which we watch the film — scanning those shimmering, claustrophobic frames for signs of life — turns into a running metaphor for what Blade Runner is about: a world in which humanity has been snuffed by 'progress.' The skies are always dark with airborne filth in this Los Angeles of the future. It usually rains. The infrastructure looks a lot like now, except older and more crowded, and with the addition of vast floating zeppelins, individual flying cars, and towering buildings of unimaginable size. Its all kind of film noir esque, a genre that has such a hammerlock on the future. I suspect film noir is so fruitful and suggestive that if you bring it on board, half your set and costume decisions have been made for you, and you know what your tone will be.

The Final Cut's refinements range from the subtle (more replicant eye-glinting) to the more obvious (the 'retirement' of replicants. Surprisingly, they all add weight to a film already bulging with multi-layered intrigue. However, the biggest bonus is the print, which has been completely rebuilt to render a vision of staggering beauty.

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