Blade Runner

Blade Runner ★★★★★

“It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?”

One of the seminal works of out-there, mind-blowing science fiction. Blade Runner, so complex, was suddenly more simple after its new complicated sequel had arrived. All jokey comparisons aside, the original remains challenging, perplexing and often profound, and its themes on dehumanization are stronger. Yes, the sequel shares these potent qualities and certainly is a deep follow-up, but somehow you just love an original that set the groundwork. At the time, its’ use of an origami unicorn was a head-spinning device of symbolism, making you refigure the entire film in your head. Of course, I’m speaking of the later director’s cut. I have loved the original 1982 studio release which had an admittedly different softened ending, the 1990’s director’s cut, the 2007 final director’s cut, then there are the international cuts that took place in the 1980’s – did Ridley Scott get obsessed with tinkering with his film, or what? He spent years tightening the screws on his masterpiece.

Harrison Ford played it cold as a blade runner of future Los Angeles 2019 assigned to hunt down unauthorized androids, in what was a misbegotten Earth riddled with pollution and obscenely cluttered technology. He hunts one replicant, then another, then finds the remaining ones pairing up to take him down (Rutger Hauer and Daryl Hannah). Hauer as the android Roy has a concluding monologue that is among cinema’s most poetic speeches about what it means to live a vast and poetic life. Deckard gets the message, and has empathy for his kind.

There were always questions regarding the film though, like, why not assign a team of blade runners? I mean, why is it just one blade runner doing all this dirty work? One could say its’ one of the staples of film noir to have one loner hero. Or you could develop a number of conspiracy theories about why it’s just Ford’s Deckard. Nobody wants a trace of these android terminations, and Deckard is understated enough do the work and keep to himself.

Then why the infatuation with Rachel (Sean Young)? He’s suddenly hot-blooded for her because she appears as a desirable 1940’s style pin-up. It is revealed quite early that she is a replicant, and that she doesn’t know that she is one. She encompasses true human feelings, or at least feelings that would be passably human. When Deckard engages in a wet, sultry kiss he’s turned on. She’s just a replicant, but she’s better than a real woman. Rachel is not real, but she’s far more beautiful, elegant and sultry then what else is left there. Real women of Los Angeles 2019 are trash.

The key to Blade Runner are the mentions of the off-world colonies which somehow fill your mind that those desired places are better habitats than this ruined Earth. Once you start making deductions, the humans remaining on Earth are outcasts and undesirables—they are failed applicants to make their way off Earth. Many of them, you must take notice have diseases or deficiencies, and so are stuck on Earth.

So why doesn’t Deckard ever consider leaving the planet, or even Los Angeles? The haunting part of the character is that he doesn’t have the ambition to, that he’s brainwashed to stay. Then again, the unicorn at the end says a lot about his brain.

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