Celebrating Great Films

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Blade Runner

Blade Runner#110 at time of writing.

Blade Runner is thirty years old if you can believe it - and it still looks fantastic. At least as good as, say, The Fifth Element. It could almost have been made yesterday.

This cyberpunk vision is the best kind of science fiction film. A rich world, layered characters, and a story that makes you stop and think.

A police assassin called Deckard is pulled out of retirement to hunt down and kill four rogue replicants - robots almost indistinguishable from humans. The ensuing story successfully explores the dehumanization of people through a society shaped by technological and capitalist excess, the roles of creator and creation, personal identity and self-awareness and other such complex issues.

The sets are wonderfully detailed. Amusingly, some of the buildings in the meticulously built model city are pieces of spaceships from earlier science fiction films, including a model of the Millennium Falcon from Star Wars, a model of the Dark Star, and piece of the spaceship from Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

There are a bewildering number of versions of the film, to the point where I'm not even sure which one(s) I've seen. The original print was thought lost until it was rediscovered in 1989 by sound preservationist Michael Arick while he was hunting through the Warner Bros attic for footage from Gypsy. It was one of the first ever films to be re-released in a "Director's Cut", in 1992. And there are five other versions too.

This is easily the best Philip K Dick adaptation, although Total Recall will always hold a special place in my heart (omigod it's being remade!).

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