This is late only because, quite frankly, I have spent the last few months watching this film over and over and I cannot think of a single criticism. Literally no criticism, I’m writing a goddamn book about Blade Runner and I half-expected to hate it by now and I do but for not the reasons I thought I would. Not because it’s repetitive but because I’ve repeated it so much and I know every version like the back of my hand, I quote it in my dreams and the words ‘Blade Runner‘ now sound so phonetically synthetic to me I’ve begun saying ‘bladerunna‘. So that’s my excuse.
Is Blade Runner a perfect movie? No. What makes it bad? I don’t know. It’s not perfect, but neither is my most favourite film of all time (2001: A Space Odyssey). Want to know what I could tell you about why I don’t like Space Odyssey? I can’t. If I were less bright or generally more narrow-tasted then I’d say because it’s “boring”, the same reason I’d give as to why Empire Strikes Back was the worst Star Wars movie: because it was the most boringest one. Duh! Except neither Odyssey nor Blade Runner are boring. They’re hypnotic, bit trip fantasies set against a slushy neon delight filled nightmarescape of blended science-fiction.
Blade Runner is neo-noir, Space Odyssey is hardcore science-fiction to the point where you can almost see Kubrick absorb Arthur C. Clarke into the project and use his writing as wallpaper. See, I’m actually listening to the Blade Runner OST right now and it’s scary how I can recount which specific songs are used specifically where in the film. Vangelis’ soundtrack is probably the greatest movie soundtrack ever made, only because Odyssey relies heavily on punctuated orchestration keynotes and the deathly humming silence of the palpable atmosphere.
The thick mood that casts over Blade Runner‘s visual landscape is only amplified by the rich character development and then turned up to eleven by the smooth cinematography and then sprinkled on by Vangelis’ timeless soundtrack. Critics didn’t dig Blade Runner when it was first released, seeing it as overcompensating for a ‘lack of story’ with bombastic special effects. The truth is I find the story and characters and philosophies raised to be far more interesting than these special effects. Ridley Scott used special effects to help extensively tell a story, whereas someone like George Lucas used a story to extensively tell special effects.
Riffed from Red Letter Media there but whatever.
Wait, what kind of article is this anyway? Film critique corner, right? Yeah. Okay why is Blade Runner so shit? It isn’t. Okay then what about Blade Runner is shit? Wait, seriously nothing? Literally nothing in this film? Hammy acting? Well, no because even Sean Young (her first performance) manages to come across as Oscar worthy. Harrison Ford is both elegantly handsome and elegantly Detective but the star of the show and the biggest Oscar snub I’ve ever seen is Rutgur Hauer’s performance. Oh. My. God. He is one of the big reasons I chose to write Tears In Rain, actually, he is the reason that Tears In Rain exists in its form. Those very words were of his own creation.
In fact, there’s a critique for you, Blade Runner is so cool even the critics at the time didn’t get it. They needed time to digest it and they were all thick-brained bastards anyway, hence why all of us modern lot get it the first time. Except you never really ‘get’ a good movie do you? Yes, you can understand it, but a need to understand it in a deeper sense prolongs a never-ending curiosity. You end up revisiting it, revising your thesis on the film and provoking new problems. There’s a raw emotion to this power of film, to live with you forever, to be at the back of your mind when your heart beats its last.
Blade Runner is one of those films. I can write a book about it, yes, but I will remember it forever and ever. I will still be able to recount Roy Batty’s speech, I will still hold my ‘argument on which is the best version’ in my mind, I will still hold that soundtrack on my iPod and more importantly I will never stop asking questions. This is what film can do, it’s what video-games can do and this (above everything else) is the power of art and of human creation itself. It dares to defy to provoke our very sense of reality, to prod at our conciousness and ask us to ask ourselves questions. Why am I here? What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be?
I see being human as accepting your flaws, in coming to terms with the fact you’ll never be perfect. Roy Batty took a while to do that, but he was propelled by his memories, all of which added to his depth as a human and not as a Replicant. They are essentially the same thing albeit it one is accelerated through ageing and the other has a whole life to live. In Blade Runner‘s world however there is something perfect in that the actual world Deckard lives in is devoid of anything human. A docile populace blindly following the rules of mass consumption, ruling corporations and an overall feeling that almost scares you into thinking 2019 isn’t so far away.
This highlight of what the human world has become and what the Replicants have become all creates the questions of Blade Runner. You can see the cracks in society right now; Murdoch media, Orwellian nightmares and even an Eastern economic dominance on the horizon. It doesn’t sound all so futuristic and out of mind when you think of it this way. This is my critique of Blade Runner… it’s too good. It functions as an art film, lives as a neo-noir thriller and yet thrives in the delights of its world. It’s a film that is terrible upon first viewing compared to your ninth or twentieth. I would know.