Blade Runner

Blade Runner ★★★★½

“All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”

Ridley Scott’s genre-defining film, Blade Runner, is a colossal cinematic achievement and the blueprint of which informs nearly every science-fiction film since its 1982 release. Scott’s often imitated, never replicated depiction of a desolate dystopian future is an utterly enveloping sensory experience. Jordan Cronenweth’s sweeping lurid vistas of towering monolithic pyramids, neon-lit streets, invasive probing lights, and perpetual downpour create visual texture, tactility, and a sense of world-weariness of a future on the brink of collapse. The roads feel walked on, the houses seem lived in. Vangelis’ jazzy synth score drunk on its melodic vibrancy is majestic and ethereal, evoking tension and mood whilst calling attention to the absence of nature in the dreary machine of Los Angeles 2019.

But at the heart of Blade Runner and the source of its cultural resonance is its thematically-dense rumination on mortality, existence, and the unyielding question of what it means to be human, physically manifested in the form of replicants, who blur the lines between naturalism and artificiality. But the lingering discussion regarding Deckard’s humanity is not as important as the reason for the discussion itself. The point isn’t whether Deckard is a replicant, the point is that we can’t tell the difference. What does this entail about our humanity and our purpose?

This is merely one of the many valid readings of the film. Another draws parallels to the history of slavery in capitalism. Another sees the film as an allegory of the Bible, interpreting Roy Batty as a "Jesus" figure and Eldon Tyrell as God. For a film to possess such varied yet cogent intertextuality and thoroughly provocative ideas is a telltale sign of adept filmmaking; there is always something overlooked, always something new to glean from.

A dreamy odyssey of rain and neon, Blade Runner is a beautiful existentialist masterpiece that has lost none of its ability to inspire and awe, demanding subsequent viewings with each foreign to the last.

RIP Rutger Hauer

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