Blade Runner has always been a film which I have been aware of, but not one which I ever had much interest in watching. My Dad on the other hand is a complete Blade Runner fanatic meaning that when I asked for the where abouts of the DVD a box set of no less than 5 versions was thrust in my direction. After some delibertation I decided to watch the 2007 “Final Cut”, the version which Ridley Scott promised was his “definitive directors cut”.
Despite being the child of Blade Runners number 1 fan the only thing I knew about the film prior to watching it was that it was directed by Ridley Scott and starred Harrison Ford in the main role. In case there is any one reading who is equally as oblivious to this sci-fi cult classic here is a quick synopsis. Ex- police man Rick Deckard must return to work in order to track down and “retire” (execute) four replicants, a robotic creation almost in distinguishable from human beings, who have illegally returned to Earth.
The sheer volume of writing which has been done on Blade Runner demonstrates that it is some what impossible to cover every aspect of the film, so I do not intend to try, instead I will focus on the apsects of the film which I enjoyed the most… The first thing which struck me was was the stunning set design. The dystopian version of LA depicted is dirty and disgusting. The glean of sweat which is apparent on the brow of most characters would suggest that it is uncomfortably warm, yet it is always raining. It was the small touchs such as this which made it apparent to me that this version of LA was somewhat hellish, and by no means an enviroment which anyone would wish to live in. That is not to say that the city is all ugly, it still houses many beautiful 30’s inspired buildings. Despite being futuristic it is not afraid to show off designs which would be more fitted to the past. Most notable of such locations is J.F Sebastians home,with its gothic structure and creepy dolls. It is sets such as this which allows for much more interesting aesthetics than the clinical looking sets that science fiction often employs.Unlike many science fiction films Blade Runner did not seem to feel the need constantly re-enforce the fact that it is set in the future, any use of technology or gadgets aids the narrative rather than detracting attention away from it.
The storyline (as described earlier) is relatively simple. While the plot has been a point of discussion for many critics I for one appreciated its simplicity as it allowed me time to appreciate the wonderfully dense set design which featured in each scene. Action packed scenes such as Zhora’s chase sequence feature just often enough so that the slow paced narrative does not become boring without overwhelming the film as a whole.
The replicants themselves were extremly interesting, in particular Pris (Daryl Hannah) and Roy (Rutger Hauer). Both characters were extremly multi-faceted combining a childlike curiosity (upon seing Sebastians creations Roys reaction is extremly child like and tender as he exclaims “Gosh, really got some nice toys here”) with a terringly cold blooded edge which is at first only apparent though the odd glint of the eye. As the film progresses and the replicants desperation to survive becomes more extreme this child like nature disappears. Even Roys voice changes, it loses its orignal soft edge becomming more confident and brass. The advantage of having the replicants behave quite childishly to begin with was that the violence which they partook in was all the more shocking. I personally found the most uncomfortable moment of the film to be when Roy gauged out his creators eyes, his glaze never never faltering as he concerntrated on the awful act he was commiting.
There is mass speculation regarding whether or not Deckard is, or is not, a replicant himself. The unempathetic nature of his work alongside small hints which seem to alter dependant on which version of the film is viewed would lead the audience to believe the former. I think that if he were in fact a human it would make his character all the more interesting as rather than finding excuses for his personality flaws they could perphaps be explored. This opinion however is after watching the 2007 version only once. After speaking about the film it has become clear that a lot its pleasure derives from multiple viewings, and if I were to watch it a few more times it may well be that I change my mind.
Overall I really enjoyed the film and have every intention of watching it again. If there is anyone reading this who is yet to see Blade Runner then I whole heartedly recommend it, I will however leave the choice of which version to watch up to you.