Quick Hit: Classic science fiction for a reason.
When Shannon listed Blade Runner as the initial movie of our 80s/90s weeks, I was excited. Blade Runner is one of those films that is science fiction royalty, listed up there with Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and E.T. This will probably be less of a “review” than normal – I’ve seen at least five (are there only five??) different cuts of the original Blade Runner, and I continually find things that I love about the film.
Let’s start with the world. Adopted from Phillip K. Dick’s (speaking of science fiction royalty!) Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the world is immediately and totally immersive. Most films that develop a bit of a cult following have well-painted worlds, and this is no exception. Couple that with what at the time were breathtaking special effects, and you have an experience that rivaled almost any seen before. Ridley Scott doesn’t hesitate to drop us into this world, full of color and bright lights, huge and beaming against a barren sky. The cars fly and the robots (EEK!) look like us. Which, of course, is part of the story.
While there are a LOT of stories about robots (some of my favorites in the science fiction vein actually), Blade Runner’s entire storyline revolves around the fact that we became so good at robotics that we began to be unable to tell them apart from true humans. While this is something that comes up in films like Bicentennial Man and played for humor, here it’s a serious endeavor that requires a special career path. Deckard fits the mold and is good at his job. The respect and awe that other characters feel for him is extremely palpable, and permeates through the story.
This is why Deckard is such a good character. He runs the gamut through the movie, which (as far as I’m concerned) is all about what makes someone (or something) human. Deckard starts the movie completely in control of his job, but has almost no life to speak of. As the movie goes, and he interacts with Rachael, he begins to realize the gulf that has come between himself and his humanity. I think this is something that we have taken to calling desensitizing in today’s psychological terminology. Consistent killing of sentient beings will do that to you. And the story that Scott tells with the visuals and Harrison Ford’s performance is one that is much deeper than just the literal plot that unfolds on screen.
There’s also plenty of action to keep the story moving, and it never slows down to the point where the story feels stagnant. For something with a runtime of nearly two hours (longer and shorter in some cuts), that’s pretty impressive.
All these aspects come together, and lead me to give this film an “A” rating. Join us later this week for some little monsters (but not the movie Little Monsters) and some Hans Gruber.
For more on this film, check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"