Blade Runner creeped up on my Shame List when after a failure in February, I felt I needed some true penance. Plus, I saw a few minutes of Blade Runner on TV and wondered why I hadn’t seen it before. (The scene I caught was Harrison Ford, Deckard, scanning the picture of the room while drinking his futuristic bottle of scotch.)
Blade Runner takes place in a future which has birthed organic robots referred to as “replicants.” Replicants have been banned on Earth and are used exclusively on off-world colonies. As we enter the world of the film, a group of replicants have escaped the off-world colony and returned to Earth to hide out in Los Angeles. Semi-retired Blade Runner, Rick Deckard, agrees to take the assignment of tracking down the escaped replicants. Blade Runner is the title for the police officers who are tasked with tracking replicants.
Harrison Ford is an excellent choice for the role of burned-out Deckard. The fact that a Blade Runner can get burned-out speaks a lot about the job. (It’s interesting to imagine what Blade Runner might have been had Dustin Hoffman taken the role in the first place.)
This film is what all science fiction movies should be. An exploration of the modern world through the prism of the future. And instead of looking at topics like social class and racism, Blade Runner actually explores the very nature of humanity. I already knew the great question of the movie going in. Maybe it was because I knew it, that I had trouble seeing the signs that brought it up in the first place. The same problem happens when you know directions so well that when someone asks you can’t give them landmarks.
So is the answer to the big question affirmative? Yes. Probably. But that wasn’t really the point, was it? The answer is the same as to whether the top falls at the end of Inception.
The importance of the film is that it makes us consider what humanity is. What makes us know that we are human? What makes us know that someone else is human? Whether we are or not, how do other treat us and do they even care?
The larger questions aside, the film is beautifully crafted. Perhaps here would be a good time to talk about the various versions of the film. The film I saw was the only one I could get my hands on — The Final Cut. I knew that there were voice overs in other versions and I can see why Scott would have removed them for The Final Cut. They weren’t needed. If I ever find the time, it might be interesting to compare the many cuts of the film and see how they impact the story and the question of humanity.
But really, I’m content to watch and rewatch The Final Cut and look for all the details Ridley Scott hid in his world for us. The level of detail is immense — to the point that there are prices on the parking meters that are still illegible even in high definition.
Blade Runner is a great film that has so much going on within its world, I feel only slightly less shameful than at the start of the year. What will fully relieve my shame? Several rewatchings of the film and a better understanding of its parts beyond a base knowledge constructed from parodies, references, and rip-offs.