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Blade Runner - 1982

Blade Runner

Blade Runner - Released June 25, 1982. Directed by Ridley Scott

Famed dystopian sci-fi epic about four "replicants" who return to earth (where they were manufactured) but are forbidden to trespass. They attempt to blend in with the urban populace which is tightly, but colorfully, packed into a futuristic Los Angeles that is multilingual and dangerous. The replicants (who for the most part appear human, though with more speed and power) have a limited life-span of only four years, and the group is on a mission to locate their designer and find a way to have their soon extinguishing time limits expanded.

Harrison Ford (as Rick Deckard) is a 'blade runner,' a kind of special police officer (though he is in fact an ex-cop) that is empowered by the state to hunt down replicants and "retire" them, is provided with powerful weapons, and uses his own investigation skills to locate the wanted non-humans. Deckard is weary of this role and has to be coerced to take the case, and is continually faced with moral dilemmas he would just as soon avoid, if he could, but can't, because the script by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples, from a novel by Philip K. Dick, doesn't really rely very much on Deckard's deductive strengths, but instead on his ability to be constantly in the right place at the right time.

The story also creates a contradictory paradox about the humanity of the replicants, and the lack of that quality among the humans, which produces an obvious question of whether Deckard is a "replicant" and whether the replicant he has fallen in love with (Sean Young as Rachael) is uniquely more human than are the "humans" Deckard is receiving orders from.

Though Blade Runner has plenty of action sequences, it takes itself seriously enough to construct adult philosophical moral questions, though they are answered in simple ways (the hero does heroic things; the replicant in distress played by Sean Young gets rescued; and as poetic the lead replicant played by Rutger Hauer is portrayed in some finely filmed moments, at other times Hauer is simply a dangerous monster).

The art direction and overall look of Blade Runner is highly influential, and many movies that have since been made after Blade Runner have borrowed from it. The retro-1940s styling reinforces the noir-trappings of the movie's tone, and it also helps to distinguish it from being a derivative of Star Wars (which was partially derived from 1930s Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, among many other things, but not 40's noir. Perhaps the most obvious child from Blade Runner isn't a sci-fi film at all, but the mega-blockbuster of 1989, Batman by Tim Burton).

The urban world of Blade Runner is claustrophobic (which is certainly deliberate) and is decorated with punk-rock visual stylings that must have projected an edgy 1982 tenseness at the time of release that it no longer possesses (punk-rock having since been absorbed into the repertoire of general modern styles), and in this way a large section of the movie is simply antique.

Well-done special effects in Blade Runner of the classic photographic trick school, using models and camera angles, gives the movie a solidness the typical CGI sci-fi film cannot come near. Director Scott integrates all this with his live-action scenes with masses of humans moving through the bleak streets of the future to create a nightmare world where being human only provides legal, superficial advantages over a place being overrun by technology and the arrogance of wielding god-like powers in the absence of god-like wisdom.

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Original Page October 2016


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