With the sequel releasing next month it’s about time we took a look back at the original, loosely adapted from the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick; who also wrote Minority Report and Total Recall.
Hitting cinemas 35 years ago, Blade Runner was described as neo-noir science-fiction directed by the fantastic sci-fi pro Ridley Scott. Set 2019, we see a very different version of Los Angeles, a dark and dystopian city that has descended into decay. The Tyrell Corporation has manufactured androids known as “replicants”, indistinguishable from human adults, to work on off-world colonies. However, if any of these replicants attempt to return to Earth they are assassinated (or “retired”) by police operatives known as “Blade Runners”. Harrison Ford plays ex-Blade Runner “Rick Deckard” who takes one last job to hunt down 4 escaped replicants. During his investigation he meets “Rachael”, played by Sean Young, an advanced replicant who displays human emotion and makes him question the future, his attitude towards replicants and what it means to be human.
Replicants are made with a restricted life span, all Roy (Rutger Hauer), Pris (Daryl Hannah), Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) and Leon (Brion James) want is to live and love. Rachael even believes herself to be human until Deckard performs the “Voight-Kampff” test on her and is told that her memories are only implants taken from Tyrell’s niece. Though this story is interesting I was more intrigued by the way the story was told. I enjoy the noir style and luckily for this film Harrison Ford’s voice lends itself well to narration. The interactions between Deckard and Rachael made me a little uncomfortable, which I normally put down to being a different time period, though it could be another example of how humans believe they can use artificial intelligence for their own advantage and self indulgence.
Honestly, my attention did dip at certain points during the film, mostly during dialogue heavy scenes; so I can see why the critics may have been split in their opinions when it was first released. However, I enjoyed this film and it includes a variety of themes that are ambiguous enough to invoke different perceptions; exploring humanity, empathy, mortality, the emotional capacity of A.Is, the disparity between the different societies and the new and decaying areas of the city, human manipulation of genetic engineering, the omnipotent corporate power, manipulation of environment, and apparently some religious connotations that I’m always oblivious to. Also, it has to have been a massive influence for 2004’s “I, Robot” and other A.I related films.
And lastly, this line:
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” Roy Batty