Sean Cordy’s review published on Letterboxd:
There are an incredible amount of quotes to define this film. But one quote stands above the rest. “It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?” – Gaff
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is simply a master class film that deserves all the praise it has received; and then some. Thanks to Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream About Electric Sheep” and his philosophies, Scott is able to formulate a wonderful cinematic experience. Blade Runner asks the questions that it needs to and allows the audience to explore its depths. Dick, through Scott’s directorial asks…
- What does it mean to be human?
- What is reality?
- What is the morality of genetically enhanced people?
Rick Deckard’s profession is retiring replicants (androids). Deckard embarks on a mission to retire four of the most advanced of their kind, Nexus 6s, Deckard discovers the depth of life and in turn, himself. During the investigation he meets a remarkable creation from the hands of Tyrell, Rachel. He tests her existence as a human and takes over 100 questions used to evoke human emotion to prove her status as a replicant. She is one of the most advanced replicants and her existence alone is a threat to humanity. She was created (unlike others) with memories. But rather, implanted memories. It’s this that allows her to believe in her own humanity.
At Deckard’s apartment (which I’ll elaborate on later), Deckard picks at Rachel’s forged brain more. Deckard proves to Rachel that she is a replicant by reciting intimate memories to her listed in her report, which originate from Tyrell’s niece. The first memory is of her exploring her sexuality as a child due to curiosity. The later of the two memories is about a spider being eaten by her offspring. Both deal greatly with the essence of being human.
The latter is a metaphor for how the replicants will, because of the nature of humans (which replicants are the image of) eventually revolt against the past/their creator. And this theory is confirmed during the brutal murder Roy Batty (one of the Nexus 6s) commits. While the latter examines the replicants formed nature, the former pertains partially to the carnal nature of humans and humans searching the unknown. Creating replicants is humans’ way of exploring life. The more advanced the replicant, the closer humanity comes to discovering itself. But it’s not only humans that learn about themselves, but their creation(s) as well.
For several years now (because of Ridley Scott’s interview), it has been known that Deckard is in fact a replicant. It’s not the mere fact that the character that hunts replicants is a replicant himself that makes this confirmation intriguing; it’s the character’s development and audience’s speculations. First off, this may not be any clue to the fact, but in the simplistic credits, the title/Deckard’s occupation is in red font, as is the term replicant (the only two to not be of white font). The hole in the point is that it implies that all blade runners are replicants; which isn’t necessarily wrong. But that theory can’t be confirmed indefinitely. The confirmation of Deckard’s life as a replicant that doesn’t know he is what he hunts lies within the details though. Note: I watched the Final Cut.
Three factors contribute to Deckard being in fact, a replicant of supreme creation. The most notable of the three (factors) being the ending. In the end, Rachel and Deckard are leaving together and on the way out, Deckard picks up an origami unicorn. Multiple times throughout the film Scott cuts to Gaff creating origami and Deckard puts two and two together to know that Gaff was there. Above that though, he realizes that he’s a replicant. He already knows, because of Rachel, that some replicants have implanted memories. Earlier in the film, Rick is dreaming of a unicorn running in a forest, and Scott’s use of Gaff’s closing quote implies that Deckard is a replicant. Not only that he is one (replicant), but that he knows it now. The two other factors in this determination are brilliant pieces of technical work(s).
Scott and DP, Jeff Cronenweth, used a great lighting throughout the whole film to give it a noir atmosphere but also manipulated the lights to create their characters. Every for-sure replicant has a glare in their eye unlike any human in the film. The owl, Rachel, Pris, and Batty among others all have that sparkle. And Deckard has it as well. The other factor in concluding Deckard as a paradoxical hunter is the set-direction. The Tyrell corporation headquarters, thanks to a brilliant score from Vangelis and beautiful photography, is treated like a palace/temple with intricate designs and structures. When in Deckard’s lair, those same principle design elements can be found; implying the apartment was built by Tyrelly Co. The tech-work isn’t only brilliant in these instances, but throughout the entire film.
The film’s CGI is a bit dated, but that is to be expected. But Blade Runner is still a spectacle. With only his camera and a few lights, Cronenweth is able to create a sense of beauty in the dystopian world of 2019. The streets are nothing but scum, yet he is able to manufacture scenes that are picturesque; belonging in a museum. The use of color is magnificent as well. A great majority of the film is shot in blues and gives the audience a sense of comfort and shows the loyalty and despair of the replicants. Yellow is the other prominent color. It’s use isn’t as prevalent, but it is used wisely. Yellow/gold is associated with gods. And the only character to have yellow is Tyrell; the creator. He’s God in this film. Scott isn’t trying to make a religious statement; he’s simply creating a character that resembles God and his power to create life and his ultimate wisdom. Along with the photography and wonderful sets is the music scored by Vangelis. It adds another dimension to this film. The replicants do not have a fully formed set of emotions, so Vangelis uses his music to fill the void. It’s simply mesmerizing. The technicals bring a great deal to the table, but the acting should be taken into consideration as well.
This is arguably Harrison Ford’s best performance. His role of Rick Deckard is cynical and complex, and he brings a certain level of candidness and skill to make his mysterious character as human as Tyrell intended him to be. The supporting cast isn’t shabby either. Sean Young brings her A-Game as Rachel and Rutger Hauer steals each scene he’s in. Not only is Hauer’s portrayal complex and deep but he also improvs one of the greatest lines in cinema history
“…and all those moments, will be lost in time. Like tears… in rain.”
The film hits on a lot of topics, but its antagonists, the replicants speak the most about life. Simply put, nobody wants to die. Everyone wants just a little bit more time. But as Batty realizes at the end of his life, it’s not about the longevity, but the path you take. And people lose sight of that at times. After Batty’s death, a dove takes flight from the grasp of his hands. It’s a symbol of new life given birth, that through his death, Deckard may realize that life is but a lie for him. Shown by the eye watching the sporadic explosions, it is also a film of warning to giving power to corporations. It predicts that due to an imperialistic society, the world will be controlled by corporations rather; controlling the government as well.
Blade Runner shouldn’t be consider just a sci-fi classic for its influence on future dystopian films, but should be praised for its influence on all film and being forever relevant to human nature because of its tender portrayal of lives lost and created.