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Movie of the Day: Blade Runner (1982)

“It's too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?”
This film is probably the most brilliant science-fiction film ever made and it works on many levels. The film is a view of a terrible society. The opening scene of Blade Runner is a brilliant vision of dystopia. Fireballs fly upwards from a bed of lights into a black sky, huge chimneys release pollution and neon lights light up huge advertisements. This oracle of the city of Los Angeles in 2019 appears more like hell than earth. It is a post-apocalyptic concept on excessive capitalism and the blunders of the technological age that reveals itself clearly in the representation of buildings as virulent growths. The street level is crowded, dirty, and congested and gives us a brilliant example of the often-questioned `cyberpunk' milieu. Punks, midgets and other weird and wonderful people wander the streets, a lot of them being Asian giving the impression of the technological Tokyo gone mad.
Blade Runner is a very philosophical film. Roy Batty, played by Rutger Hauer, leads a team of androids (or in the film's terms, replicants) who arrive in Los Angeles from the Off-World colonies in order to face the head of their manufacturer, the huge Tyrell Corporation. Replicants are limited to a four year life span and this group of them want to find a way to extend their intentionally restricted life-spans. Replicants are not allowed on earth under penalty of death. They are hunted by Rick Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, who belongs to a special police unit known as Blade Runners that hunt down replicants. The many questions it asks are, `What does it mean to be human?' `What separates humans from technology?' and ultimately, `What is the meaning of life?'. The film asks these questions but doesn't answer them (because these are unanswerable questions) and leaves the viewer to decide for himself.
In my opinion, the director's cut is the superior film. The `original' film (the director's cut is the true original, it was the film that was meant to be until they decided to add a voice-over and happy ending) is a lot less poignant and it forces the viewers to make decisions but it is still an excellent commentary on society.
Blade Runner is a sophisticated and complex film, memorable both in style and substance. It has so many aspects that can be discussed that I haven't gone through here such as the religious imagery, the iconography, the representation of race and the technology. The cinematography is so brilliant, each shot is good enough to be made into a poster, the acting is top notch, the inspired story is brilliant and a huge talking point and the Vangelis score works very well. It is an important film in the development of cinema, too, because it is the first identifiable `cyberpunk' movie and it has developed a massive cult following.
If you are not someone who naturally enjoys contemplating such themes, the film's brilliance may be lost on you. The climax involves a soliloquy that brings many of the themes together in a simple yet wonderfully poetic way. Anyone who "gets" the film should be moved by this; others will sadly miss the point and may prefer watching some mindless action flick instead.A masterpiece that deserves recognition and long remembrance in film history... 10/10


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