Blade Runner

Blade Runner by Duane Thomas“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.”

Every bit of Blade Runner is pure motion picture; always movement and always motivated by a familiar yet alien environment that lives and breathes. The streets in the film are crowded with neon designs, flashing lights, customized vehicles, and busy civilians wearing detailed costumes, scrambling through heavy rain and fog to get to imaginary yet seemingly important places. The Los Angeles of Blade Runner’s future vision may have seemed extremely foreign in 1982 when the film premiered, but has proved prophetic in these days of uneasy decay and overpopulation.

Blade Runner - Theatrical Poster

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Blade Runner creates a world so thick with atmosphere and layered with rich detail that it’s impossible not to become entirely immersed. Even after countless repeat viewings I find myself sucked in completely. It is a film with irresistible magnetism, and every few months I’ll be unexpectedly entrenched in this movie. There’s no escape from my fascination until I’ve taken the time to watch everything that my 5-disc HDDVD set has to offer; the International Theatrical Cut, the 2007 Final Cut (both with and without the Director Commentary), Dangerous Days: the Making of Blade Runner, and at least a handful of the featurettes found on the supplements disc. It takes a few days to get through everything, but it’s always such a pleasure and there is always something new to discover.

Movies are no longer made this way, and it’s a goddamn shame. Companies like Industrial Light and Magic have revolutionized the filmmaking process and provided today’s visionary storytellers with extremely cost effective and powerful tools to make their dreams a reality. However, there has been a tremendous cost to the soul of the images they produce, and cinema today is sorely lacking the visual punch of yesteryear’s Sci-Fi blockbusters.

The man-hours, effort, and money that went into breathing life into the rich atmosphere of Blade Runner is far from lost on me. There’s almost no way to convey what an astounding specimen this film is for the impact that man-made sets, practical visual effects, elaborate miniatures, collaborative creativity, and craftsmanship can have on production value. The L.A. portrayed in Blade Runner feels real, almost alive. It makes the sterile computer generated streets and office buildings of Coruscant from Star Wars Episode II look like the environments used on the fucking Teletubbies.

Blade Runner - Pris by Duane Thomas

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Although the look of the picture is breathtaking, the subtext of Blade Runner is easily just as thick as the mood evoked by the environments crafted by Ridley Scott’s art department. It takes more than one viewing to be able to appreciate what’s at work here, but meaningful conversations can be ignited by the themes threaded throughout this movie.

“Have you ever retired a human by mistake?”

These were characters that knew the value of each day. They were desperate to stay alive, and carried around an only hope that someone at the Tyrell Corporation could save them from dying. Our villains are told they are not real; that they are only clones, due to expire. If I’m not real, then what is “real”? And what does it all mean if everything can just suddenly go away? No one believes they’re going to die. Unfortunately all of this, from the mundane to the unfathomable, will be washed away with time.

My preferred version at this point is the Final Cut that Ridley Scott released in the theater and on home video in 2007. However, I highly appreciate that the other versions are available and I watch them all almost as much as the Final Cut. This 5-Disc Blu-Ray Set is identical to the one I own on HDDVD. It includes the Final Cut, the Original Theatrical Versions for both the U.S. and International from 1982, the Director’s Cut from 1992, and even the Workprint that was shown to test audiences. All in glorious 1080p HD!

Blade Runner - Blu-Ray

Blade Runner - Gaff by Duane Thomas

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All the elements of a modern science fiction classic are present, but Blade Runner’s ability to call upon the audience to question what they’re seeing and feeling elevates the film to masterpiece status. However you choose to interpret the film, you have to appreciate the ability to decide its meaning for yourself. What’s more important than whether Deckard is a replicant or human, is that the question exists.

Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” may not have been strictly adapted for its literal content, but the spirit and emotional theme of his book is more accurately depicted than most writers could ever hope for. Having strong subject matter to consider and debate after walking out of a movie theater is far more appealing to my sense of intelligence than having some derivative manure shoveled into my brain for an hour and a half.

There’s pos­i­tively no way I can wrap this up with­out touch­ing on Van­ge­lis. One of the best musi­cal scores for a movie ever. It’s fuck­ing 1982 and the guy sounds like Daft Punk. Van­ge­lis is a legend.

Blade Runner - CD

Links to the Blu-Ray sets and the Vangelis soundtrack are provided in the box below. (Unless you’re blocking Amazon Associates)

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10 Responses to Blade Runner

  1. Such a brilliant and in-depth review of a movie worthy of the same praise!

    I’m not nearly as well versed as you in these matters but I personally love most of the sci-fi movies from the 80’s and early 90’s just for the sake of their attention to detail; it seems they really nailed it in those decades but, as you say, lost it with current films. Films like this – set in future worlds where the streets are littered with members of their fictional society so seamlessly as if to physically transport you to these make believe streets – are rare nowadays.

    Among ‘Blade Runner’, my mind wanders also to the ‘Mad Max’ films, ‘Waterworld’ ‘Judge Dredd’ and the more recent anomaly, ‘Doomsday’ which all tap into that same ability as ‘Blade Runner’ to so perfectly transport us to the streets of a society based on our own placed in a fictional future world.

  2. Chris Steele says:

    This is one of my favorite films of all time. Thank you for elaborating your opinion of Blade Runner and extolling the virtues of this outstanding film. I also thoroughly enjoyed the heavy handed textual bashing of the “art” of modern film making. In my opinion, CG has ruined the “feel” of far too many films and relegated them to the level of childish happy meal non-sense.


    • Duane Thomas says:

      Thank you very much sir! I know Blade Runner may be one of your favorites, but you are going to LOVE what comes next. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen it, but I kind of hope you haven’t so that you’ll track it down and enjoy it fresh. New post will be up in the next 2-3 days.

  3. Ty Paff says:

    Great start Duane, really impressive!

    I do see two formatting errors though (I’m on OSX Lion with Safari)
    1. The white text that starts with “My preferred version at this point is the Final Cut…” overlays the last picture in the post along with the paragraph next to it.
    2. Same issue with “There’s pos­i­tively no way I can wrap this up with­out touching on Vangelis…”, it overlays “Links in the blue rectangle…” below the video. (By the way, I totally agree with Vangelis!)

    Can’t wait to see what’s next!

    – T

    • Duane Thomas says:

      Thanks Ty. There was an issue with formatting pertaining to Amazon Ads. If your browser is blocking them with an add-on like “Ghostery” it was messing up the boxes I made with CSS to place them. So I took the Ads out of boxes where I had text and replaced them with uploaded product images, and placed the ads at the bottom in a fixed width and height box that wont collapse if the ads are blocked. The box will be empty if your blocking but at least Text wont be floating out. Thanks for beta testing for me.

  4. hyperlogia says:

    I’m really excited to see how this develops. You’re off to a great start!

  5. Daryl Fraser says:

    Killer art on this project yo!!

  6. Daryl Fraser says:

    Much love for for this film you have! I’ve seen it maybe twice & never really given it much spark an interest in me to rediscover what you’ve been studying up on.

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