Overview: In the near future of 2019, Harrison Ford is forced to mumble and grumble while hunting down a group of replicants. Warner Bros.; Rated R; 116 minutes.
Los Angeles 2019: Based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Blade Runner presents a grim future for Los Angeles. The streets are cluttered with people, cars fly overhead. The night atmosphere is one of constant rain, often coated with a blue hue, while daytime in the city is covered in yellow smog reflecting the sun through a film of pollution. The scenery is a clear homage to the noir genre of yesteryear, but with an equally clear dystopian influence. Skyscrapers and foundries inspire a distinct claustrophobia. Yet they’re somehow tragically beautiful in an alien way (Imagine if Frank Lloyd Wright and the late, great H.R. Giger had an architectural baby together, and that baby defecated over futuristic notions of Los Angeles).
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?: Why are we here? Does anything we do matter? And if it does matter, will anyone remember it? Blade Runner ponders the big questions but doesn’t provide any answers. Instead, director Ridley Scott confronts these classic existential musings through his characters: Harrison Ford’s Rick Deckard and Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty. Deckard is an effective archetype, a familiar cliche who proves the effectiveness for the cliche itself, a standard morally ambiguous detective who gets called in for one last job. He’s a loner who doesn’t care about anyone else, let alone some greater meaning in life. Roy Batty on the other hand is a leader. A savior trying to lead his replicant brothers and sisters to eternal – or at least extended – life. Replicants only have a four year lifespan to work menial tasks before they wear themselves out. Roy wants more for his kind and he will do whatever it takes to achieve his goal. The two men don’t meet until the climax of the film but their encounter changes both individuals presumably forever.
When Roy and Deckard finally confront each other, the two couldn’t be on more different paths. Roy began his journey in hopes that he could continue to live and learn about life. Deckard chases replicants for a living to end theirs. By the end chase sequence in a rainy, decrepit building, Roy has lost everything. All he has are his memories. And maybe that’s why, in the end, Roy chooses to save a life rather than take one. Roy needed someone to know what was being lost “Like tears in rain.” There’s no concrete answer to why Roy saves Deckard, but I like to think Roy came to understand a deeper appreciation of life more than we ever could.
Does Ridley Scott Dream of Electric Sheep?: Director Ridley Scott has a knack for creating visually stunning movies with never before seen atmospheres, but Blade Runner is, by far, his most personal project. A little background: Ridley’s oldest brother, Frank Scott, passed away between the release of Alien and production of Blade Runner. Memories are a constant theme throughout the film. The final confrontation between Deckard and Batty echoes with the sentiments of a man coping with loss. Ridley Scott took that loss and turned it into a work of art and a truly great film.
Final Note: This is all personal choice but I’ve decided upon Final Cut as the definitive version of the film. Everyone is entitled to their own choice and I’d love to hear what your favorite version of Blade Runner is.