Friday, May 19, 2017

Blade Runner (1982)

The first time I saw Blade Runner was many years ago and it had narration.  The narration was from the theatrical cut and has been removed from all subsequent cuts.  I remember liking the narration and that others didn’t.  Not liking the narration seems to have the overwhelming majority when it comes to opinion, which is what makes the theatrical version somewhat difficult to come by.

Either way, the basic story is the same.  Rick Deckard is brought out of retirement to hunt down four individuals.  Why are any the four individuals so important?  They’re replicants, or artificial people made for off-world labor.  They’re not allowed back on Earth.  Deckard is what’s called a blade runner.  He hunts down and ‘retires’ replicants.  The four replicants are the top of the line, so they need the best blade runner out there.

The movie has gained cult status in the years following its release.  It’s known for being very dark and with good reason.  Aside from the violence, which I’ll get to, I don’t think there were many scenes with daylight.  Everything seems to be at night, which makes the illuminated billboards (and product placement) stand out a little more.  As if that weren’t enough, it seems that it’s almost always raining in the Los Angeles of the future.

As for the violence, replicants aren’t very well liked.  They’re given a four-year life span so as not to develop pesky emotions or personalities.  Deckard is allowed to kill with extreme prejudice, which he does in two cases.  A third is killed by Rachael, who is most likely a replicant, herself.

This is where it the lines get blurry.  It seems that normally, replicants are given the skills they need to do their jobs.  With such a short amount of life, one would assume that there’s no time to waste with training.  It’s possible, as with Rachael, to implant a real person’s actual memories.  Does that make Rachael any less of a person than the person she’s based on?

When I first watched Blade Runner, I saw it mostly as an action movie.  You have a police officer hunting down four criminals with the express purpose of killing them.  It wasn’t until I got older that I began to see some of the finer details.  You don’t actually call killing a replicant what it is.  Instead, you say you’re retiring them, as they’re nothing more than a product of the Tyrell Corporation.  Their entire existence is to go into situations too hazardous for humans.  They’re disposable.

If that’s true, what do you call a replicant that thinks she’s a real person?  Is she any less disposable because she seems real?  Is she any more deserving of life because she’s pretty?  Then, there’s Deckard himself.  It’s implied that he may be a replicant, too.

One thing that confused me, though, is that the movie seems to go back and forth between calling them robots and people.  At least one of the makers are referred to as a genetic engineer.  They seem to be made from organically grown parts.  I’m not sure if the brains are organic, though.  It is entirely possible that the brains are mechanical.  It‘s ambiguous, as they’re not really clones and not exactly robots.

The version I got was The Final Cut, which was the last version released.  There is an Ultimate Edition, which contains several version.  I’m not sure how many of the seven different cuts are available, but it seems that if I want the narration, this will have to be the version I have to buy.  I would like to see the theatrical cut to see how well it holds up.  I’m not sure I’d get it any time soon, as it can be a bit tedious for me to watch the same movie twice in such a short time span.  I may wait to see if it becomes available streaming or at the library.

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