Saturday, 21 October 2017
Blade Runner - The Director's Cut
After 35 years, time has not dulled the visual or ethical impact of this film. Ridley Scott's celebrated masterpiece still holds it's head high. I rewatched it again ahead of hopefully seeing the sequel in the next few days. Based on Philip K Dick's story 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?' the film is set in November 2019. I'm glad to report that Scott's dystopian Los Angeles has not quite yet come to pass!
The bleak and darkened sets, half-lit and filled with clouds of steam and constant rain, all combine to create a very 'other' kind of world. It is permanent night and the all pervasive day-glow advertising brings a sharp contrast to the greyed out streets of the cityscape. It is little wonder that the healthy and able have left the planet to colonise other worlds. Those that remain, populate an underclass which requires heavy and frequent law enforcement.
The central thrust of the story is a now common theme amongst Sci Fi writers as the fiction becomes ever closer to reality. What if Artificial Intelligence (AI) creates beings that evolve into something that challenges the primacy of their creator? Perhaps a parallel with the Biblical narrative?
Star Trek's Data portrayed a benevolent android whose shadow side was manifested in his darker brother Lore. The characters ably demonstrating the dichotomy and danger facing those who are developing AI and robotics. More recently films such as Ex Machina and Ghost in the Shell have explored the deception of humans by AI driven androids. This is a rich vein in Sci FI that follows in the traditions of Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov et al.
The narrative arc of Blade Runner is straightforward and is set out at the beginning of the film. A group of the latest Nexus 6 model of 'replicant' have escaped their assigned roles and gone rogue in an attempt to increase their inbuilt four year life span. Some have returned to earth and pose such a threat that ace Detective Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is blackmailed out of retirement for one last mission. He reprises his role as a Blade Runner - someone who 'retires' replicants. Such is the crossover between human and machine that euphemisms must be used to avoid the word 'kill'.
Most of the story progresses as expected as Deckard works his way through the replicants. The leader of the replicants - Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) and an experimental replicant Rachel (Sean Young) pose different problems for Deckard as the film unfolds. Does Batty's change of heart as his own death approaches or Rachel's seeming innocence and naivety, signpost some hope for AI to remain more human and not evolve into something that will seek domination and control of humanity? Where does being human end and being machine begin? What happens when humans create machines in their own image? These are the central ideas that Blade Runner explores.
I will add my voice to those who see this as a top class film. I am looking forward to the sequel which is currently in the cinemas - Blade Runner 2049. The visualisation, story and acting of this film leave me no choice other than to award it 9/10.