I rewatched the original 1982 box office disaster and cult classic Blade Runner. This was a film my Dad watched a few times a year while I was growing up. As a child I always thought this movie was slow, dark and boring. I felt that a movie that stared the guy that played both Indiana Jones and Han Solo should have been a bit more exciting. I tried watching it about 12 years ago and ran into the same feelings. However, I figured I should give it one more chance before I watch the next one. What I was not expecting was to actually enjoy it!
The 1982 film Blade Runner is not for kids. It is a smart and deliberately slow paced science fiction noir film meant for adults. The visuals must have been astonishing at the films release and still hold up relatively well today. As a child I was fascinated by the enormous pyramid shaped buildings and I am still blown away by the design aesthetic Ridley Scott was able to create. This world begs for more stories to be told within it. Blade Runner gave us a peek into a small corner of a much bigger painting. The music is certainly a product of its time, but its simple theme is able to transcend its era and become beloved in its own right. This tale of a cop tracking down rebel robots called “replicants” at its core could be described as a twist on Frankenstein’s Monster where we ask our selves “Can the monster be more human than the human?”.
Harrison Ford gives us a straight forward performance where his role as Rick Deckard is meant to act as a surrogate to us, the audience. Because his role is more of an extension of the audience there really isn’t much he can do with it but what he does serves the story perfectly. The other side characters service the plot just fine with no one particularly shining brighter than the other.
I was impressed at the performance of William Anderson who played J.F. Sebastian. His character felt stuck between joy and fear throughout the film. The uneasy nature Anderson used as he played the role led to some very subtle yet powerful-tension filled scenes. While everyone in the film does a fine job, the stand out performance goes to Rutger Hauer as the poet replicant Roy Batty who simply wants to live. Hauer is able to create a character who we both fear and empathize with. His final speech borders on a soliloquy as we finally connect with this troubled replicant whose only desire is one more memory.
Blade Runner invites us to not only ponder it’s message but re-think and re-watch the film itself to discover if Rick Deckard is a replicant or not. This question has had it’s fans debating for decades. I even found myself discussing this at length with a co-worker. Each of us provided context from the film to anchor our opinions and convince each other and ourselves that what we thought was correct. This question is left for the viewer to decide and the film is better for it.
Blade Runner is a classic and while it may not be a movie I watch every year or put in my greatest films of all time list, I finally understand why it is regarded with such high praise. Watching this movie 35 years after it was originally released makes me wonder what film considered a disaster today will one day be looked at as a masterpiece worthy of a sequel. Only time will tell.