Futuristic film exposes the disintegration of real and unreal

by Alex Bigelow staff writer

The strangest thing about the future is that the moment we currently sit in is the future we once foretold. “Blade Runner,” a sci-fi/thriller directed by Ridley Scott, came out in 1982, taking a look at a frighteningly technological world where the delineation between the real and unreal is always slipping.

“Blade Runner” quickly grabs viewers and pulls them into its world, asking them to imagine the future in 2019. The movie takes place in Los Angeles, which resembles a futuristic Tokyo with gigantic electronic billboards of Japanese girls drinking soda and overpopulated streets speckled with various food peddlers. It’s a dazzling yet hellish metropolis with smog so thick the time of day is unclear and a gentle and underlying nudge towards an exaggerated possible future.

The film stars Harrison Ford as cop Rick Deckard, a cynical, competent and hard-boiled character who navigates the urban sprawl with a familiar ease while carrying out a difficult assignment. A group of “replicants,” artificial people who seem amazingly human, have escaped from “off-world,” where they are legally obligated to stay, and are trying to insert themselves on Earth. Deckard must track them down and eliminate them.

The film follows Deckard on his assignment, which includes a love affair with Rachael (Sean Young), a beautiful replicant. Deckard’s tracking down of the runaways most notably climaxes in an encounter with their white-haired leader, Batty (Rutger Hauer). These complex events contribute to an already busy plot line. “Blade Runner” is crammed to the gills with as much information as it can hold.

“Blade Runner,” though often written off as an “‘80s film” leaves its mark as a classic due to its intricate and dismal vision of the future laid out like never before by director Ridley Scott (also known for “Alien”). It is an examination of humans versus advanced thinking machines, real versus unreal. The story line is pulled from a Philip K. Dick novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” which circles around the question of memory. Are a robot’s memories less valid if they are inspired by someone else’s experiences, especially if the robot does not know it?

Scott’s visual universe is perhaps the strongest aspect of the film, as the storyline and writing itself are often overpowered by his extreme vision. The cinematography is also dominated by the powerful visuals; however, the scenes between Ford and Young feature intimate, shadow-filled tight shots that feed the tension between them and the wonder they feel for each other. The exploration of the idea of whether technological beings have valid feelings or memories and what is “really real” is clear throughout and translates well to our ever-technologically-advancing society.

Overall, “Blade Runner” leaves you stunned with its visuals and chewing on some existential predicaments, but is cluttered in some areas while lacking in effective writing in others. Ridley Scott accomplishes his goal of a powerful universe and a morally confusing future, yet leaves us hoping our own future won’t hold as many plot holes and perhaps a little less smog.

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