Blade Runner

"All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain."

Blade Runner is my favorite science fiction movie. It is so rich and powerful that it lends itself to repeated watching and analysis. It asks the big questions. What is a human being? What is not? Where do we draw the line?

As likable as Harrison Ford is in every other movie he's ever made, I never liked him in this one. But I don't think we're supposed to like Deckard. Deckard's job is to kill replicants, after all. What sort of job is this for a human being? Is Deckard less human than the replicants he kills? Well, of course he is. Replicants look and act almost exactly like human beings, after all. Is Deckard himself a replicant? If he were, how could we tell?

Rutger Hauer, as replicant Roy Batty, stole this movie from Harrison Ford. Batty is scary and inhuman. At first. As his options run out and he loses his companions, Batty becomes more... well, human. His big scene near the end of the movie is just stunning, filled with pathos and meaning, and it never fails to get to me. I've had a soft spot for Rutger Hauer for years, despite his less than stellar employment choices, simply because of the power of his performance in this movie.

Eyes are the windows of the soul, and there is constant, and I do mean constant, eye imagery throughout the movie: disembodied eyes, glowing eyes, eye patches, weird glasses, and so on. The test to determine if someone is a replicant is even based on eye movements. Also in the symbolism department, there are dolls, mannequins, genetically created animals, and human-looking living toys. Edward James Olmos' character creates tiny origami figures of a bird, a man, and a unicorn. The unicorn, in particular, has special meaning.

One more thing. I don't like the original theatrical version of this movie. I read somewhere that, what with U.S. versions and European versions and all of the different cuts, there are actually five different versions of Blade Runner. I prefer, and recommend, the U.S. director's cut. (Note from later: The Final Cut, version number six, is much like the U.S. director's cut, and is also recommended.)

Bits and pieces:

— Deckard has an exceptionally odd and strained relationship with Rachel, who is also a replicant. He orders her to love him, and she does. She is utterly dependent on him for her life; he could kill her at any time. What is she really feeling? We never do find out.

— There is a strong mix of Asian and American cultures in this future world. I believe Joss Whedon borrowed a flavor of this mix as the setting for Firefly.

— Speaking of my favorite shows, the Cylons on Battlestar Galactica are much like replicants. They even borrowed the term "skin job," which is slang for replicant. And of course, the star of Battlestar Galactica, Edward James Olmos, was also in Blade Runner.

— The movie features two famous buildings in LA., often used for filming: Deckard's apartment was in the Ennis Brown House, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. And the building where much of the action takes place – the one with the skylight and the incredible staircases – is the Bradbury Building. I visited both of these sites when I first came to L.A. because of my love for this movie.

— Past memories for replicants are associated with photographs. I think the photographs are also a clue as to whether or not Deckard is a replicant himself.

— Batty: "If only you could see what I've seen with your eyes."

— Leon: "Wake up. Time to die."

What other rating could I give one of my very favorite movies? Four out of four stars,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

4 comments:

Tremum said...

This is also my all time favourite film. Brilliant.

Great PurpleRobe said...

I just discovered your website while looking for reviews of Six Feet Under.

Blade Runner is one of my favorites, as well, although we differ in our opinion of the US theatrical release. IMHO, it worked, and the fact that neither Harrison Ford nor Ridley Scott cared for the version has not swayed me. I do like the other versions, but I thought the voiceover worked, corny as it was. Also, the US release made it harder to decide if Deckard is a replicant. The Final Cut all but spells it out in flickery neon letters for us, and I can make my own decisions, thanks very much.

I'm going to go read some more of your reviews. Thanks for making this. --JB

Billie Doux said...

JB, you're very welcome, good comment, and welcome to the site!

migmit said...

I'm really surprised someone can actually like this.

I just posted a review here: https://migmit.dreamwidth.org/73885.html — full of spoilers, if that matters.