Blade Runner * * * * *

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Director: Ridley Scott.
Screenplay: Hampton Fancher, David Webb Peoples.
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson, Joe Turkel, Joanna Cassidy, Brion James, M. Emmett Walsh, James Hong, Morgan Paull.

Director Ridley Scott released “Alien” in 1979. For many, it stands as one of science fiction’s best. A mere three years after it though, he delivered “Blade Runner“. It was wrought with production problems, a less than happy crew and abundant studio interference. The end result, however, would lead you to believe that everything went smoothly. This is the definitive of science fiction movies and Scott’s finest film.

Los Angeles, 2019: Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a ‘Blade Runner’ – a unit of the police force that hunt and kill human clones, known as ‘Replicants’. Replicants have been declared illegal after a bloody mutiny on an Off-World Colony, and are to be terminated upon detection. Some have escaped and prowl the streets of Los Angeles looking for answers from their creator. This is when Deckard’s services are called upon.

Loosely based on the novel “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep” by, the master of the genre, Philip K. Dick. If you are familiar with Dick’s immersive and intelligent ideas, then you’ll know exactly why this film works on so many levels. On the surface, it’s one of the most gorgeous pieces of cinema ever committed to the screen. The opening shot of the vast, dystopian city of Los Angeles – dubbed “The Hades Landscape” – is an absolute feast for the eyes and
a vision that’s yet to be beaten – even by today’s standards. The city itself is stark, rain drenched and has a heavy Eastern influence. Giant global corporations are rife; slavery, overcrowding and a decaying environment permeate the proceedings. Cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth can’t be praised enough for his eye in capturing this inhospitable future world. This is also helped, immeasurably, in it’s realisation by Production Designers Lawrence G. Paull and Syd Mead; Art Director David L. Snyder and Douglas Trumbull’s exquisite special effects. Everyone pulls their weight in capturing the sheer visual beauty of this film. Underneath the luscious surface, courses a deep and philosophical pondering. The reference to French philosopher Rene Descartes and his metaphysical statement “I think, therefore I am“, addresses the doubt we have as living beings and the nature of our existence. It’s a recurrent theme throughout the whole picture.
It’s a film that is renowned for being tinkered with. Several different cuts were released over the years. The original had Harrison Ford supply a Philip Marlowe like voice-over, talking us through the events. This was deemed insulting to the audience as it caused continuity problems. However, I actually liked it. It gave a film-noir feel that complimented the look of the film but regardless of the cut you prefer, the film is still a masterpiece. It also boasts excellent performances from its entire cast. Ford has been outspoken about his dislike for the film but he has rarely performed better and Rutger Hauer is commanding throughout – with his shiver inducing, “Tears in Rain” monologue, going down as one of cinema’s classic scenes. The haunting soundtrack by Vangelis also deserves mention and accompanies Ridley Scott’s creativity perfectly.
It’s testament alone that with all the big budget special effects these days that a film done in the early 80’s still stands as one of the most amazing visual spectacles ever made. And how many films do you come across, that not only look astounding but also channel Film-Noir and Cartesian doubt?

This connects on a visual, emotional and philosophical level that few films have ever achieved.

Included in My Top Ten films.

Mark Walker

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24 Responses to “Blade Runner * * * * *”

  1. Great review, Mark! I didn’t love the film, it bored me. But I certainly can appreciate it on a visual level. And I totally understand why so many people love it. Just not for me.

  2. Great review. This is by far one of the greatest sci-fi films. I’m hoping Scott pulls Prometheus off because he has mentioned multiple times that he is interested in returning to the Blade Runner world and if anyone was going to do it, I’d like it to be him.

    • Prometheus looks superb. I cant wait. I’m not entirely keen on the idea of Blade Runner being revisited though. It should be left alone. All they’ll do is kill it with special effects. I just hope that Scott is involved when it happens, surely he wouldnt allow them to fuck it up.

  3. Quite simply, one of the greatest science films of all time. Perhaps I am biased because I saw this when I was quite young and it made such a lasting impression on me. I enjoyed your review as well.

    • I totally agree Mark. Maybe I have the same bias though. I also say it very young and like yourself, it has never left me. Probably never will. I’m not too keen on the talk of it being revisited.

  4. Nice review Mark, One of my all time favorite Sci-fi films. Just caught this again a couple of weeks ago playing on TCM.

    If Scott pulls of Prometheus, my trepidation about a Blade Runner sequel would be lowered considerably.

    • Thanks man! If Scott pulls of Prometheus, then Sci-fi fans are in for a massive treat. Time will tell, I suppose. My hopes are very high though. I just hope I’m not let down. I wasn’t overly impressed when I came out of Gladiator. I know lots of people love it but I wasn’t sold. Scott can be a visionary but he can also get it sorely wrong on occasion. I just hope he’s on his best form here. When his form is good, he’s unbeatable.

  5. Just saw it and it has now become an immediate favorite. My review is the newest on my blog.

  6. MAJOR points for dropping Descartes in your write up, that is some spot on shit right there, Man. Damn. Bullseye.

    Meanwhile, here’s a Blade Runner debate I never envisioned myself having – you LIKE the voicover? It isnt the biggest wekness in that version of the film compared to the superior Final Cut (that honor belongs to the “Drive off”, but even thats not bad) I just far, far, far prefer the no narration.

    • Thanks man! Descartes had to be mentioned. I wouldn’t have been content without mentioning (probably) the most influential philosophical theory that course through the film.
      I agree on the “Drive Off” ending. That absolutely stank man. (Apparently, it was unused footage from Kubrick’s The Shining.) The voice-over I loved though, it added that hard-boiled detective feel that all good Noir’s have. Ford had the perfect monotone voice for it also.

  7. I don’t know why this came up in my reader as a new post but I could as well comment now that I noticed it. It’s one of my favorite movies. And I’ve never understood what was bad about the voice-over. I loved it. To be honest I’ve never watched all those alternative versions. Perhaps I should. Would give me a good reason to make a revisit.
    The tears-in-rain scene never grows old. One of my favorite scenes in all movies ever made. Not bad! :)

    • It’s probably appeared because I done a slight edit. I do all my blogging through my phone and sometimes older reviews reappear. It’s one of my favourite film’s also and we’re on the same page with the voice-over. I loved it as well. I thought it’s added to the overall noir feel. This has been a favourite of mine since I was a youngster. It has always stood the test of time for me.

  8. Great review, I always think the monologue in the rain is one of the most poignant moments in film I’ve ever seen

    • I totally agree Vinnie. The “tears in rain” scene is one of my all time favourites. This film is also very high up in my estimation. It certainly included in my top ten.

  9. Chris Walker Says:

    It’s too bad she won’t live! But then again, who does? – Gaff
    I love this quote

  10. Chris Walker Says:

    “All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”- Roy

    Mark, did you know that Rutger Hauer improvised that line? Shortly after he smiles, that’s Rutger Hauer smiling towards the writer. I learned that watching a documentary on the BLU-RAY copy of Blade Runner. By the way I agree with you that the voice over version was really good. I think it’s my favorite version.

    • Fantastic quote. Aye Chris, I had heard that he improvised that line. There was also claims that it was Ridley Scott who wrote it bit I originally heard it was Hauer. Didn’t know about the smile though. Nice one.

  11. Chris Walker Says:

    Mark, got a suggestion, I would be interested in seeing your top 10 directors/actors.

    • Thought about that before Chris but it’s forever changing and it’s very difficult to pick ten of each. It’s even harder than choosing ten films I think. I could maybe pick a top five for now…

      Directors:
      #1: The Coens.
      #2: David Lynch.
      #3: Quentin Tarantino.
      #4: Martin Scorsese.
      #5: ?

      Actors:
      #1: Robert DeNiro.
      #2: Daniel Day-Lewis.
      #3: Jack Nicholson.
      #4: Jeff Bridges.
      #5: Philip Seymour Hoffman.

  12. Chris Walker Says:

    Good list. three things tho… David Lynch not top that’s shocking :) Daniel Day-Lewis that’s strange, personally I’ve not seen him in much and finally no Al Pacino?

    • I wouldn’t blame anyone who had Lynch top but for me it’s the Coens.
      Day-Lewis is a masterclass actor. Check out: There Will Be Blood, In The Name Of The Father, My Left Foot and his wicked turn in Scorsese’s Gangs Of New York.
      Unfortunately, Pacino doesn’t make the cut for me. I like him a helluva lot but doesn’t quite make my top five. Probably top ten though.

  13. […] punch line on your blog is a quote from the movie Blade Runner. Could you explain the significance of […]

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