Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M
Emmet Walsh, Daryl Hannah
1982, 118 Minutes, Directed by: Ridley Scott
movie's shadowy visual style, along with its classic
private-detective/murder-mystery plot line (with Ford on the trail of a
murderous android, or "replicant"), makes Blade Runner one of the few science
fiction pictures to legitimately claim a place in the film noir tradition. And,
as in the best noir, the sleuth discovers a whole lot more (about himself and
the people he encounters) than he anticipates.... —
fiction author William Gibson admitted to being depressed after
he saw this movie: he had been pre-empted and for once written
sci-fi lagged behind its celluloid sibling. Neuromancer, the
first ever cyberpunk novel, only saw the light of print
three years later - long after the first cyberpunk movie, Blade
Runner, stunned sci-fi fans into submission.
Of course the movie wasn't a
straight-off success. It did poorly at the box
office. Audiences hated the downbeat story line and some critics hated the
tag-on happy ending even more. But with its intense visuals
and intriguing musical score by Vangelis, it was destined for cult status. Blade
Runner actually saw a mainstream re-release ten years later
as a so-called "Director's Cut" - something few movies
The abhorred ending (decided on by Hollywood execs
after preview audiences complained) was excised, the
Chandler-esque voice-over by Ford (also insisted upon by studio
execs) was left out and a dream
sequence featuring a unicorn, previously left out, was added.
"With its intense visuals and intriguing musical score by Vangelis, it
was destined for cult status . . ."
The Director's Cut - what
Ridley Scott originally intended - was an eye-opener. It drastically enhanced an
already stunning film and clearly showed the conflict between money interests
and artistic integrity inherent to any art medium, like movies, which counts as
a collaborative effort and demands great investment. The
plot? Based vaguely on Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids
Dream of Electric Sheep? the film is set in Los Angeles in
the year 2019.
It features a harangued-looking Harrison Ford as a
so-called Blade Runner - a special policeman who
"retires" (i.e. kills) human androids called Replicants. Dragged back from retirement, he is forced by his
ex-police boss to hunt down four Replicants who have made their
way back to earth from one of the off-world colonies. Why are
they back? To see whether their creator (head of the incredibly
powerful Tyrrell corporation) could alter their genetic make-up. See, the Replicants have an expiration date - they only live for
four years - and theirs are running out quickly.
Scott basically re-does his Alien-thang: transposing another genre (in this case the detective film noir
story-line) unto a sci-fi setting. And he does it well: the
futuristic Los Angeles (which looks more like a hybrid between
New York on an extremely bad day and high-tech Osaka in Japan) is
one of cinema's most powerful inventions.
The city is alive and
breathing, we suffer vertigo as police vehicles (called
"spinners") float through a vista of fantastic
architecture in which a mass of humanity teems every day. Claustrophobic, dark and grim, Scott's Los Angeles is a dystopia
which many filmmakers have subsequently tried to copy without
any success in various films throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
True, the plot is riddled with
more holes than one may bother picking, but the combination of fantastic special
effects, intense violence and situations, an uniquely downcast tone and ending
makes for a not-to-be-missed film; one which at times is
difficult to have been actually produced by Hollywood.