When we think about the future, we always have this idea of a more prosperous and hopeful future that shows mankind forever achieving new heights and bringing in the dawn of hope. Even if it is a bleak future, there’s always a hero and a rag-tag group ready to take on the face of evil and bring peace and justice for all. But what if this future we had hoped for, doesn’t come to fruition? Sure we may have developed great scientific achievements, but what does that future still look like today? What happens to our social and economic developments? Is there a greater divide between the rich and poor? And can we tell what makes us truly human or artificially false, like an android or A.I.? Since it’s now December 2019, it’s time to look back at one of the greatest cult classic sci-fi films, “Blade Runner.”
“Blade Runner” was released back in 1982 and directed by Ridley Scott, who had just come from the success of his horror film, Alien, and stars Harrison Ford, Ruter Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos, to name a few. The premise takes place in a futuristic Los Angeles, California in 2019 (this was an eighties film, folks) where humans created lifelike clones of themselves called Replicants. Replicants are used for space colonization, but when six rouge Replicants enter, it’s up to Rick Deckard (Ford) to hunt down and kill the rogue Replicants, but also begins to question on wither he truly is a human or a Replicant. Harrison Ford, who was also coming off of the finale of the original Star Wars Trilogy, was ready to put Han Solo to rest and enter the role of Rick Deckard, the gruff cop with a heart of gold. His capacity to show how complex Deckard is making you feel like you’re witnessing his struggle to stop the rogue clones and his pondering of his own existence. However, there is one scene that truly feels out of character for him and while I won’t spoil it, it does warrant our current views on how we deal with toxic relationships. Ruter Hauer, who I mentioned in my “Kingdom Hearts 3” review, rose to fame as the villainous, but complicated Replicant, Roy Batty. His goal is not taking over the world, but to keep extending his lifespan, since replicants have a four-year lifespan. This is his first major film role and he knocked it out of the park. Sean Young plays the replicant, Rachel, who plays as the femme-fatale who yearns for her past and wants Deckard to help her find the truth.
The style and themes of “Blade Runner” are what truly make this film stand out unlike most sic-fi films of its time. The cyberpunk style, low life, and high tech, really makes you feel how close we are into a future where we think progress is happening, but not all will benefit from it. The themes of what’s human and what’s an android, although very cliché right now, still grasp our thoughts on what we think of or the ethical choices of what makes us human and has since then influenced other films and television such as “The Matrix Trilogy” and “Ghost in the Shell.” (The 1995 anime, not the 2017 live-action film.) This film is also just beautiful to look at. The cinematography and practical effects are just eye candy that you can forget that there’s barely any use of C.G.I and it still really holds up.
Now comes the crazy part. “Blade Runner,” while having an excellent cast, great cinematography, music, director, the whole shebang, it is a cult classic and for good reason. Because “Blade Runner” has had over seven versions of the same film, but Warner Bros. had gotten concerned that the film is too dark and violent. After the first test screening, they began meddling Ridley Scott’s vision by releasing their theatrical cut that gave exposition dumps everywhere, a “happy ending” that undermines and destroys all of the character’s arch and a painful, yet hilarious noir voiceover done by Harrison Ford. Even though Ford was not onboard for the change, and did the voiceover badly so the studio would release Scott’s cut of the film, the studio went ahead of their cut and the film underperformed at the box-office and was a polarized mess for critics and audiences, but hey, the visuals are pretty!
It was not until the director’s cut of the film came into fruition in the late ’90s and the final cut of the film was released and gave a major update to the film. “Blade Runner: The Final Cut” gave the film justice by sticking to the original vision Ridley Scott had in mind during the original production and giving more time to flesh out its own characters while also giving it a visual upgrade, making it the superior version to watch.
While it had a rough history, “Blade Runner” is still a sci-fi classic that etched its way into popular media with its visuals, cyberpunk style and its philosophical views of what it means to be human.
Shawn Knepper is a senior majoring in musical theatre. You may email him at firstname.lastname@example.org