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Blade Runner

Review Written by: Chris Burns
Film: A+

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples
Based on the book by: Philip K. Dick
Produced by: Michael Deeley
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmett Walsh, Daryl Hannah, Joanna Cassidy
Studio: Warner Brothers Pictures

Ridley Scott first proved to be a consummate master of cinema with the classic sci-fi horror, Alien and two years prior he had crafted his critically-acclaimed The Duellists. Then in 1982 Ridley Scott returned for his now superlative work, the ground-breaking masterpiece, Blade Runner. It remains one of the most controversial films ever made, due to the range of extensive cuts and edits which were performed by the producers. In 1992 Blade Runner: The Director's Cut was released. This marked a huge accomplishment for both Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford who have both cited the original version as "fake". Although Ridley Scott considers the Director's Cut to be rushed, it is still the version which he considers true to his original vision and there is no question about it, the Director's Cut is the only way to gain the true representation of the film's colossal greatness.

Blade Runner is a vague adaptation of Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and remains a polarising and visionary image of the possible dystopia the world could so easily become. The year 2019 and a "techno-metro" Los Angeles police-department known as "Blade Runners" pursue Replicants (genetically-engineered species which are almost indistinguishable from humans). The Replicants are deemed too dangerous for society and are illegal on Earth. Blade Runners are law-enforcement agents set to execute ("retirement") any Replicants which have found their way onto the Earth. Deckard, a retired Blade Runner is unwillingly called back from retirement to pursue four known Replicants who have gained entry into Los Angeles.

There is a common misconception that films which have huge budgets and deal with weighty topics are not able to balance both intelligence and entertainment. Except, Blade Runner (although made on a large budget) is far from being a Hollywood film, which is of course a relief because today's Hollywood would rarely dream of letting a film like Blade Runner be crafted in the way it has been. They would want huge explosions, people running in and out of buildings shooting the "bad guys" and common-placed clichés to please mass-audiences. Commercially, Blade Runner was a failure and views of the film were extremely diverse, this is just one of the reasons why the film has gained a cult success.

Blade Runner is a film is so visually stunning that everything about it becomes etched on your mind. The opening shot of a huge dystopia stretching as far as the eye can see, while contrasting against the magnificent lights and colours illuminating the Los Angeles sky is awe-inspiring. As the film progresses you become opened-up to a grim environment where there is little way of differentiating night and day and little way of knowing the time. It is a society overrun with consumerism, technology and most of all menace. It is an overwhelming atmosphere, filmed with grim beauty and visceral flair, an environment where everything is busy, yet people are lonely inside. In a way it is a society where paranoia is quite apparent and nobody is oblivious enough to truly ignore it. The score is another one of the film's many fantastic technical achievements, it perfectly adds to the film's haunting and sombre mood.

The retro set-pieces are vibrantly detailed, echoing the shades of techno-noir from the use of camera movements, to other elements such as character personalities, traits and actions. The incorporation of "femme fatale" is another method used to emphasise the film's shady noir. Then you have the use of symbolism, moralistic undercurrents and the religious imagery (such as the film's significant chess game). In addition, Blade Runner has political (Japanese culture being a strong-hold for American culture) and social subtext (businesses overriding people). You could even go so far as saying the film's main focus is on the individual sorrow of "what Deckard really is".

Blade Runner is a film whereby the narrative is so involving and relentless that it is impossible not be compelled by the film's infinite selection of material to scrutinise and discuss for hours on end. The acting from the entire cast, notably the performances from that of Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer adds to the film's emotional complexity. Harrison Ford gives the performance of a lifetime; a timeless performance of a man's tortured "soul".

Blade Runner is a film of thought-provoking ambiguity, conflicting view-points and dramatic emotions. Even on my consistent viewings of Blade Runner I still gain the cold feeling I got the first time when I saw the stunning array of beauty of the film holds, even in the darkest of moments. Ultimately, Blade Runner remains a poignant reminder to how artificial-intelligence could quite possibly become only too "human" and man's hopeless pursuit for immortality. There is no denying that Blade Runner is one of the finest films ever made and a film deserving of repeat-viewings.

Harrison Ford tracks down the Replicants in Blade Runner.
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