Blade Runner (1982)
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Hampton Fancher, David Peoples
Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah, M. Emmet Walsh, Edward James Olmos, Joe Turkel, Brion James, Joanna Cassidy, William Sanderson
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Still Here To Be Seen
Favorite Movie Quote: "All those memories lost in time, like tears in the rain."
I had been remiss about watching Blade Runner again because I had fond memories of it and over the years other films that I had liked in my youth haven't fared well through my aged eyes. Exceptions include the original Star Wars trilogy, Star Trek II, surprisingly Beastmaster, Krull, and Conan the Barbarian, and a slew of movies that I started to appreciate in a whole new way like Uncommon Valor and Platoon.
For me Blade Runner fits into a whole new category. It's become exceedingly clear over the years that I favor noir sensibilities - darkness, shadow, motivated lighting, anti-heroes, down endings, gritty reality - found in varying degrees in movies like Heat, Seven, Dark Knight, and wasted in most of today's crappy horror movies, shot well but poorly written. Blade Runner could be, and is to me, the definitive noir film. I don't think there's a single inch of wasted celluloid; almost any frame of film could be blown up and hung in an art gallery. It also uses every noir cliché while far exceeding the trappings of any genre within which one attempts to slot it, be it noir, sci-fi, detective, or otherwise.
Four Replicants (androids essentially), military model Roy (Rutger Hauer), pleasure model Pris (Daryl Hannah), worker Leon (Brion James), and assassin Zhora (Joanna Cassidy), steal a ship off world and return to earth (where they are illegal). Tabbed to hunt them down is Blade Runner Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford). Looking for insight into their motivations Deckard meets with the man that designed them, Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel), and his lovely assistant, Rachael (Sean Young). As Deckard becomes entwined with Rachael and her issues, Roy tries to work his way to Tyrell for his own answers.
Based on Phillip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, a book with fascinating ideas (but did not wow me overall), on its surface Blade Runner's story is set up to be the stuff of a sci-fi action shoot 'em up, and in the hands of clumsy oaf of a director it probably would've been. Instead, Ridley Scott was at the helm fighting for the cerebral picture he knew Blade Runner could be, teamed with cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth, making every shot consistently fantastic.
There's a criticism that this movie is, well, boring. To each their own, and I understand that criticism; the movie is very deliberate, with several moments where characters are alone with their thoughts, or having quiet conversations about seemingly inconsequential things. I won't insult you by saying you don't get it just because you don't like it. For my tastes, however, I think Blade Runner builds to an emotional crescendo with a subtle hand so rare that I can do nothing but be fascinated each time I watch that which has positioned itself as my favorite film of all time.
From the standpoint of cinematography (for which Cronenweth won a BAFTA), Blade Runner is worthy of hours of study. It also won BAFTA's for Costume and Production Design and was nominated for Score and Sound; it was largely overlooked by mainstream American media. I also think that this is one of Harrison Ford's best performances, though not the wisecracking rogue that his fans had wanted at the time from Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Thankfully, unlike Roy's concern of his memories being lost in time, Blade Runner remains.
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