Blade Runner

Blade Runner. The Ladd Company, 1982 (2007 recut)

Before watching the movie:

Few movies have such radical differences between the theatrical version and the Director’s cut. In fact, the only one I can think of that comes close is Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In order to split the difference, the version I’m watching is “The Final Cut (2007). It’s probably the same in intent to the Director’s Cut, but I believe in putting the director’s intent on the screen, so I chose the latest version for the same reason I prefer widescreen over fullscreen.

Anyway, I read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and I’m expecting to see a familiar element here and there in a completely repainted world.

During/after the movie:

In the future of 2019, Rick Deckard is an android replicant-hunting bounty hunter Blade Runner who is called back in to execute retire a group of highly advanced replicants who have illegally come to Earth from the colonies in search of a way to defy the 4-year limit to their lives.  In order to make sure the standard test works on the newest androids, Deckard is asked to test Rachael, the assistant of the android-making company’s president. She doesn’t know she is a replicant until Deckard tells her, and as he retires his bounties the revelation leads Rachael to go rogue, and he is asked to retire her as well, but he explores his attraction to her instead. Theoretically, this is an action movie.

This film dips into the novel a lot more than I expected, though some of the themes I took away from the book the most have been dropped. At times it seemed to stray significantly, but it turned out to be closer than it looked. One of the replicants got promoted to chief villain, but in the end, there’s still no winners or losers.

The most-discussed ambiguity of the film is whether or not Deckard is a replicant, with more hints to suggest he is in the versions with Ridley Scott’s approval. This was an explicit question in the book, but seems to only be present in the movie if one is looking for it. The final resolution, however, is more interesting to me. In one version, it is forced to be happy, in another, bleak, and in the version I saw, incredibly ambiguous. Deckard has made his choice, but unlike in the other versions, I’m not sure if we can tell what it is.

As a side note, I noticed that the director likes to use an effect similar to photographic red-eye to give the eyes of the not-real people and animals an unnatural golden glow. It’s rather subtle in most cases, and I’m not sure if the effect needed contact lenses to work on humans or not.

When I read the book, I imagined a different aesthetic in most scenes, but not all. In fact, the more I think about it, the more scenes are in line with it. Still, it’s not the style I wanted, but it’s the style that works for the 80s, and one that inspired a genre of futuristic noir.

Watch this movie: and wonder what the unicorn dream really means.

Don’t watch this movie: and expect a clear stance on android rights.

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