Director: Ridley Scott
“One of the real reasons Blade Runner has had such a cult following is the existence of more than one version of the film.” (678, Joanna Berry, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die) The version I was watching is the Final Cut I think but what differences there are I would not be able to tell you, never having seen the original.
From one of Harrison Ford‘s cult performances (Han Solo) to another, Deckard. Boy he really racked up the cult roles in the 80s didn’t he? What with leading roles in Star Wars (1977, 1980, 1983), Indiana Jones (1981, 1984, 1989, 2008) and of course the subject of this posting, Blade Runner. Although from the sounds of things it was not an altogether pleasant experience for him, “Ford has rarely commented on the movie since its initial release, only remarking that it was the toughest movie he has ever worked on.” (678) Once again Ford plays the reluctant hero with a roguish air to his character. He’s a man of few words as Deckard.
“Scott’s superb mix of twenty-first-century sci-fi and 1940s detective film noir makes for a stunning dystopia, while Ford, as the man sent to “retire” (that is, execute) human-looking androids who have come to Earth in search of their maker, may not have liked to “stand around and give some focus to Ridley’s sets”, as he told a journalist in 1991, but his bemusement works perfectly with the storyline.” (678) Having seen how useful a storytelling device the subtitles were at the top of the Star Wars films Scott employs them in Blade Runner, providing the necessary back story neatly and concisely. There’s a fusion between East and West. Scott employs an almost exclusively blue colour palette creating some interesting shadows and lighting options. Having said that the Tyrell Corporation shuns the blue palette and is very much infused with golden light. The building screams of Egyptian or Mayan architecture. It certainly lends to the idea that one of the underlying themes of the film is religion with Tyrell in the God position. Certainly a grandeur to it.
There are obvious elements of the film noir genre neatly spliced neatly into the sci-fi nature of the film. Dark, heavy shadows; extremes of light and shadow; Rachel cast as the femme fatale and possibly a Replicant albeit an incredibly advanced one. And then of course Deckard is the detective thrown into a bizarre sequence of events. His outfit even resembles that of the classic noir male leads in his trench coat. Tortured soul with regret in his past. It’s a fairly slow-moving plot – more along the line of a film noir than a sci-fi movie. The constant downpour of ran creates a depressing feel that sits perfectly with the dystopic nature of the film. It must have been grueling filming in those conditions for days on end.
Rutger Hauer is majorly creepy as Roy Batty. The whole concept of the Replicants is that they are almost indistinguishable from humans and yet there is something so off about Batty. But it could be argued (and undoubtably has at some point) that there are humans that have something off about them, something in the make up of their character that is outside the norm. He is excellent as Batty however. While he is most definitely the villain of the piece his motivation is trying to find a way of extending his life (Replicants have a very limited lifespan) He becomes increasingly insane and delusional as his body begins to rapidly deteriorate even while fighting Deckard. Deckard’s interactions with both Rachel and Batty begin to alter his view on the Replicants. Despite the violence leading up to his death Batty’s end is surprisingly peaceful. He just sort of shuts down – it’s a strikingly beautiful sequence.
“Blade Runner remains one of the most beautifully art-directed and visually stunning science-fiction movies ever made.” (678) It is beautifully shot with a real arty feel to it. I particularly love the eye. Eyes seem to be a feature throughout the film. Monitoring the dilation of the pupils is a key tool in identifying Replicants. There are elements about Blade Runner that really freak me out, especially any of the scenes in J.F. Sebastian’s place which is full of mannequins; but then I have a major thing about mannequins moving independently. It’s one of the most visually stunning and atmospheric sci-fi films I have ever watched with such a distinctive style.
I think films that unsettle you and make you questions things like Blade Runner (and more recently Inception, Christopher Nolan, 2010) are sort of predisposed to garner a cult following. Multiple viewing offer both answers and new questions resulting in the film always remaining fresh. Scott leaves the story open-ended leaving the audience to wonder what happens next.