Director: Ridley Scott
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah
Words – Nathan Scatcherd
Unquestionably one of the greatest and most influential sci-fi films of all time, Blade Runner takes on a whole new dimension this year, specifically in November.
Yes, Ridley Scott’s future-noir classic is set in November 2019; and though we aren’t quite at the point of flying cars yet, this is the one and only month in which to contemporaneously experience Ridley Scott’s seminal masterpiece.
Though an adaptation of the 1968 Philip K Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner has so fully become its own beast that the source material is often judged next to the film, as opposed to the other way around.
Though the film is seen today as an essential example of sci-fi moviemaking, it’s worth remembering that the version looked upon as such today – known as ‘the Final Cut’ – was not the first iteration to actually be released.
Blade Runner had a somewhat tortured life until the Scott-approved Final Cut of 2007 (as the only version he had complete artistic control over); from its initial, compromised 1982 release to the US broadcast cut, then the Director’s Cut; all before that Director’s Cut version was further restored and remastered into the version today considered the ‘true’ cut of the movie.
From its opening shot, Blade Runner offers an arresting, enveloping view of Los Angeles in 2019 as a perennially rain-soaked metropolis of shimmering neon and vast, smoke-belching industrial towers. This fantastic set-design is complimented by Vangelis’ score, an otherworldly collection of sweeping synths which proved a benchmark in electronic soundtrack music. Both of these elements go a long way to lending the film’s plot – a noir-flavoured meditation on humanity and artificiality – a strange dreamlike quality, its central question of what it means to be alive rendered in ethereal, mythical terms.
Harrison Ford was already Indiana Jones and Han Solo by the point he starred in Blade Runner, but it was here, as titular ‘Blade Runner’ Deckard, that he showed a different side to his persona; a tiredness and resignation behind the cool, steely exterior.
The late Rutger Hauer brings a weird magnetic coldness to his performance as Roy Batty, the Replicant who lusts for a life he is incapable of holding onto. His iconic speech at the film’s climax is rightly remembered for its poetic summation of the impermanence of memory, and the fragility of all things.
It is a perfect ending to one of science fiction cinema’s most powerful and enduring films.