Blade Runner

Blade Runner is a masterpiece.

I was going to end my review with just that sentence, but felt compelled to write more as there just aren’t enough words to try and explain Blade Runner but I’ll give it a shot.

First thing you need to know is that there are two versions of Blade Runner and I urge all to watch both. The first one is the theater version which the producers of the film got nervous on Ridley Scott’s cut and had a film noir like monologue track added by Harrison Ford’s character Deckard. They were worried that general audiences wouldn’t quite get what the vision of the film was and felt this was necessary to market the film. Later with a very lucrative profit already in the bank and wanting more, they agreed to let Ridley Scoot release a directors cut which does not have that audio track.

Unlike many other people I have seen review Blade Runner, I suggest you watch the director’s cut first and get a feeling for the movie which is yours alone. Blade Runner is a feast on the ears, eyes, and mind. It will take you on a journey of imagination so let loose, relax and enjoy the ride. Then when some time has passed and you have thought about it for a while, go and watch the theater version with the dialog. It’s an interesting experiment to see if your views match what the producers felt you should be feeling.

I don’t mind the dialog so much. It adds something to the movie making it feel lost in time. Although the movie is set in the future the exact time is sort of unknown. The clothes are a mix of old and new, there is just one language which is a mix of many, and the buildings all seem out of place as well. Everywhere you look is this juxtaposition of old and new masterfully mixed.

I understand that the graphic designer who drew up plans for the hover car used in the film had such great drawings of background landscape that perfectly matched Scott’s vision they hired him to do the entire layout. It’s visually striking.

Next add the music. Vangelis made Blade Runner. If you have never heard anything by this great composer I think you need to get off the internet, get down to a music store, and buy the best of Vangelis. His score for Blade Runner is for me like another character in the movie. It ads so much to the movie you can’t ignore it. Just as the scenery is a mix of old and new, the music is a blend of known and unknown. The evocative saxophone combined with synthesizer during the movie’s love song still haunts my memories and brings goose bumps to my skin just thinking about it.

I guess I could go into the plot and say Blade Runner is about a detective on his last legs finding himself again while in the pursuit of some replicant renegade humanoids, but that almost belittles the film. Blade Runner is really about human discovery and finding one’s soul even when there is doubt of a Heaven.

For me the best character whose journey is the very heart of this picture is Rutger Hauer’s role of Roy Batty, the lead “evil” replicant Deckard is after. A full range of emotions and growth with the final scene between these two displayed as a gentle moment of clarity after a chaotic confrontation of ideals. This is one of the best scenes in all of cinematic history.

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

Each character is masterful in Blade Runner and represents emotions and feelings edged on by the situation. Each replicant Deckard faces teaches something of ourselves as we watch and share in their perils. The innocence of Pris, the brashness of Zhora, the strength and weakness of Leon, the duplicity of Gaff… By the end you are not sure who is who, what is what, and question everything.

Pure magic.

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