For 1 Year, 100 Movies, contributor/filmmaker Trey Hock will watch all of AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies list (compiled in 2007) in one year. His reactions to each film will be recorded here twice a week until the year (and list) is up!
To anyone out there who considers themselves a casual fan of “Blade Runner,” this next paragraph is not for you. You may leave the room:
I am now addressing the obsessed. I am not going to debate which version is the correct version. My personal preference is for any version that does not have Deckard’s voiceover at the end. That said, any version of “Blade Runner” is still going to be better than most other movies you could watch.
Now that that’s addressed, everyone else can come back.
The future has never looked so dirty, grimy or familiar as it does in this movie. Before “Blade Runner,” the future was all shiny appliances and houses that cook for you. Even “Star Wars” gives us the stark black-and-white efficiency of the Empire. The Rebellion may have blaster-charred ships, but their medical vessel looks nice and clean. Director Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” serves up only squalor and filth. It lets us see a world created and destroyed by humans.
But though this 2019 version of Los Angeles is filled with rotting buildings and dirty noodle shops, it is simply the backdrop for a story that explores what it means to be human. We follow Deckard, a world-weary blade runner, who is tasked with finding and “retiring” four replicants (synthetic people). Harrison Ford’s normal stiffness works really well in his portrayal of Deckard. Ford’s performance makes Deckard hardened and withdrawn. This is a man who has seen too much and is changing his view of replicants as machines.
Though “Alien” is undeniably an incredible film, “Blade Runner” is straight up art. Every single shot in this film is constructed and controlled. Scott makes sure that there is never a stray frame. And with so many terrible science-fiction films and television shows out there, it is awesome to revisit a really great science-fiction film. What makes it great?
Well, there’s no rerouting the power, converting the crystals to gas, or flipping the one switch that solves all the problems. Nope. This sci-fi tale has very little to do with the stuff and everything to do with the characters. The only way we can get out of this mess is for Deckard to chase people through the street and shoot them, or get his ass kicked. Often he gets his ass kicked.
I have seen “Blade Runner” so many times at this point it is difficult to know what else to talk about. It is one of the movies on the list I own on DVD. The final scene between Deckard and renegade replicant leader Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) is a truly iconic film moment, and one of my personal favorites. As Roy crouches and dies in the rain, one can’t help but question what is lost with his passing. Though he has wreaked havoc on those around him, his final moments are touching and beautiful.
If you haven’t seen it, you really should sit down and watch this incredible film.
Up next #96 “Do the Right Thing” (1989)