Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Bladerunner (1982)

Wake up, time to die.

I must admit to having never really “got” Bladerunner in the past. I know it is regarded as a classic (my wife even did an essay on it in Academy), and so I had tried to like it, but just never quite did. Then the local multiplex (my first ever visit, having previously steered well clear) did a one off showing as part of the local TechFest (2 weeks of public science events here in Aberdeen), because apparently NASA has praised Bladerunner for its scientific accuracy. So I paid my £12 to see Ridley Scott’s epic on the big screen.

To say that I am completely converted would be an understatement. It was fantastic. The look of LA in 2019 was simply amazing, and the score by Vangelis just adds layer upon layer of atmosphere so that the whole film is simply dripping with it. As I was listening to it I could hear parts of it were obviously inspirational for Daft Punk in their soundtrack for Tron Legacy. The End Titles also sound like they could have been inspirational for Hans Zimmer’s “Time” on the Inception soundtrack.

Ridley Scott’s direction for Bladerunner is understated verging on the minimal. Harrison Ford, Daryl Hannah, Rutger Hauer, William Sanderson et al. spend a fair amount of time not speaking, rather simply being in this intricately created environment. The constant shifting of light across the actors either highlights or subdues their emotions and reactions. I also loved the fact that the film isn’t in a hurry; the pace of the film is fairly slow, but it doesn’t care, it just builds tension and atmosphere, as the plot slowly unfolds.

The cast are consistently excellent. I think Harrison Ford is perfect as the world-weary pulled-out-of-retirement Bladerunner, he brings complete credibility to a character whose job it is to kill synthetic humans. I think he works so well because he plays the character as your average cop, rather than trying to be all sci-fi or other-worldly; this means that we can relate to him far more. Rutger Hauer manages to convey a lot in his fairly small screen-time as Roy Batty, a particularly dangerous replicant. By the end of the film we are left sympathising with Batty, such is the quality of the writing and the performance.

The only minor issue I have with the film is the romance between Deckard and Rachael. Not because it isn’t appropriate or anything, simply because Rachael looks weird! Her hair is just strange, until she lets it down and then she looks fairly normal! But I think that is the minor-est of minor niggles in what is an excellent film.

So I finally get Bladerunner. A stunningly imagined and realised future LA, moody, atmospheric and incredibly detailed. The characters are brilliantly portrayed, and there is no doubt that they inhabit the world that they are in. Very understated direction by Ridley, which is complemented wonderfully by the music and the layers of light used in the movie. I will definitely be buying a copy on DVD now.