One of the greatest sci-fi films ever made, this is a masterpiece of mood setting, existential themes and unforgettable images.
Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah
Plot: A blade runner must pursue and terminate four replicants who stole a ship in space, and have returned to Earth to find their creator.
Awards: Nom. for 2 Oscars – Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects
Subject Matter: Moderate – Existence; Mortality; Humanness
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Slightly Slow
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream
First Published: 13 Feb 2014
This is my favourite science-fiction film after Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). It is also my favourite Ridley Scott picture. He hasn’t done a better picture since, and along with Alien (1979), Blade Runner is without any doubt a masterpiece in the truest sense of the word.
It is a masterpiece of mood-setting, existential themes and unforgettable images. Not well-appreciated when it was first released in the early 1980s during arguably the highest peak of sci-fi cinema, Scott’s film was generally a failure commercially and critically.
Time had the final word on Blade Runner, and in retrospect, it is only fitting for a film that is very much an amalgamation of all that involves time, particularly, memory and the postmodern.
Harrison Ford, perhaps the most famous Hollywood star at the time with Star Wars (1977) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), plays a blade runner whose job is to execute, or “retire” replicants.
Replicants look human, but they are created by men and sent to space to do risky jobs like colonizing other planets. Several replicants mutiny and flee to Earth, and Ford’s character has to terminate them.
Blade Runner is of course set in the (now near) future, one that has been hauntingly envisioned, characterized by a noirish, postmodernist look and feel.
“Quite an experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.”
The film is rich in its depiction of themes of consumerism, capitalism, evolution, and existentialism. It not only explores what makes us humans, but also what it means to be human.
The performances are spot-on, with Rutger Hauer’s iconic interpretation of the film’s main ‘villain’ one of the genre’s most memorable roles. His final lines in the movie hold the key to unlocking the film’s philosophical roots. The cinematography, visual effects and art direction are all perfect.
But what’s more than perfect, and so eternally fascinating is Vangelis’ electronic score to the picture. He creates an otherworldly experience, and the score integrates with the sound design of the film so well that it’s impossible to ignore the importance of music and sound in this picture.
Vangelis’ work here is very, very critical, and in my view, his greatest work for film, even over his more famous theme to Chariots of Fire (1981).
Blade Runner has had many editions. I personally like the ‘Director’s Cut’ and the ‘Final Cut’, and strongly recommend you to watch either one. If you haven’t seen Blade Runner, you owe yourself to see it. If you can’t grasp its greatness… then watch it again and again and again.