Blade Runner

Scenes from Blade Runner
Scenes showing some sets from Blade Runner

It’s hard for me to believe that Blade Runner is 29 years old already. I think it’s aged well, I do, I do!

If you’re a fan of Philip K. Dick (original novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?) or Ridley Scott (director Alien, Gladiator and, as producer, The Good Wife for TV), then you certainly know Blade Runner. I’m adding this movie simply because it’s one of my very favorites. Everything about it is achingly well done. Harrison Ford’s laconic acting style seems constantly at odds with the incredible busyness of the setting, Los Angeles of the future.

Sean Young, before she went a bit wacko over James Woods, is perfect as the real/robotic female lead. It’s silly but the moment that still makes me emotional is when she finds out that she isn’t a real person. Her memories have been implanted, of course, and Ford doesn’t really seem to give a shit one way or the other. In the end, however, he whisks her off to safety, away from the city.

As I’ve grown older (OK, OLD!), I’ve experienced certain dreams that have definite memories in them that I know aren’t real. What I mean is that during the dream, I have very ┬ávivid memories that whole dreams are based upon. When I wake up, the memories linger for a while then fade but in the period of the dream, they are very real. From that, I’ve come to question what a memory really is. If my brain can implant and act upon a memory while I am asleep, a memory that can completely fool me, then what is real? Other than this moment now, what else is real? From that, I’ve been able to sense a little bit of what Dick was writing about. Once robots evolve, if they every do, then we’ll be faced with the very same questions that are raised in the movie.

The other moment that struck me was near the end when Rutger Hauer is describing what  he has seen,

“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…
Attack Ships on fire off the shores of Orion.
I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark off of Tanhauser Gate.
All those moments will be lost in time…like tears, in rain.
Time to die.”

You have to admit that it’s a powerful moment. This killer has suddenly revealed that he has feelings and, perhaps, a soul too. At the moment he says ‘Time to die’, a white dove flies up, representing his soul heading up to robot heaven, I suppose.

The sets are the best I think I’ve ever seen. From the exterior shots of a very crowded, rainy and dismal L.A. to the dripping wet apartment lobby with the wrought iron railings, to the interiors of Decker’s and Sebastian’s apartments and finally to the smoky, beautifully lit Tyrell offices, each shot is perfect, in my opinion. It’s truly an escape, maybe not to a world that you’d want to live in but an OK place to visit for a couple of hours.

There are light moments, disgustingly violent moments, sad moments and points where you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. Decker’s apartment is a futuristic man-cave, complete with the coolest scotch glasses I’ve seen anywhere.

There are various versions of the movie so don’t think that if you’ve seen one that you’ve seen them all. I suppose the famous (and overused) ‘director’s cut’ might be the place to start. This movie won’t set you back much in terms of money but it will reinforce your opinion of some early American films. Sure, American films suck now but they didn’t always suck. I’ll highlight some of my favourites now and then.

Thanks for reading! Comments (nice ones) are welcome.

The sun sets over Los Angeles seen from the Tyrell office.
The smoky, sepia Tyrell office as the sun sets over L.A.

2 thoughts on “Blade Runner”

  1. Great movie. Sean Young’s most believable role! Did you notice that Leon also says to Decker “wake up, time to die” just before Rachel shoots him. The connotation is different than how Roy says “Time to die”. Roy makes Decker experience the fear of death that replicants live under. At one point, Decker is dependent on Roy’s dying hand for his survival. In Roy’s final act of mercy, Roy becomes in essence a better man than Decker. Perhaps this helps shape Decker’s opinion of Rachel.

    1. Sean Young was very good in this movie, that’s for sure. I really liked her look, too. The first ‘time to die’ had to do with Leon’s perception of humans, perhaps. Maybe he didn’t consider them as alive as the replicants. He looks at their lives amidst the dirt and grime of the city and sees humans as asleep, just waiting for their lives to run out while he is looking at a very limited future. Maybe the moment of death is his idea of a highlight, one to be awake for. Wake from a stupor, not sleep, I think.
      Roy is, in many ways, better than Decker. He has strong emotions while Decker stumbles through life feeling nothing. Decker is a product of his environment while Roy is a product of whatever memory chips he’s been given. Roy has developed the feelings that maybe Decker never had. I think it is suggested that Roy is superior in many ways, you’re right. All of this helps Rachel in the end, as you say. His opinion of replicants has changed completely.
      Thanks for commenting!

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