The Blade Runner Legacy
A New Age Of Film-Making
Almost four decades after its release, Blade Runner is still one of the most influential movies of all time. This movie introduced a lot of new elements in film-making that are still used to this day and fans, like myself, are still as avid as ever. The Blade Runner legacy is alive and well, and we can still feel its presence in modem media if we look closely enough.
Blade Runner is a science fiction film about a distant and alternate future wherein human-like androids are bio-engineered in order to work for a company called the Tyrell Corporation. Androids are referred to as ‘replicants’, and unlike humans, their life span is much shorter.
Four replicants somehow manage to escape the corporation while working on an off-world colony. Rick Deckard, a retired Blade Runner, is then given the task of hunting them down and ‘retiring’ them. The four replicants are named Leon, Roy, Zhora, and Pris.
Deckard learns more about the social differences between humans and replicants and has to apply this knowledge with other clues to track down the replicants and accomplish his mission.
The several themes and symbolism explored in Blade Runner play a big part in making the movie memorable and timeless.
One theme is that of ‘identity’. As Deckard gets closer to the replicants, he starts questioning himself, unsure of which side he really belongs to. This is an excellent interpretation of one of the most common dilemmas a lot of people face today – an identity crisis.
The movie works so well in developing this theme that you are never quite sure if Deckard is indeed human himself or another replicant. What you decide will ultimately be determined by which version of Blade Runner you watch because each cut tells a slightly different story. I, for one, like the idea that Deckard is human because then we get to see the evolving similarities of human and replicant.
This ambiguity, where the audience is left with more questions than answers regarding the veracity of self, adds to its layered complexity and allows for the film to be discussed in philosophic terms.
Another theme is that of omnipotence. The Tyrell Corporation ‘plays God’ by creating replicant life-forms that are programmed to believe they are human but are only given a 4-year lifespan. In this way, they control life and death and this gives the film an eerie Big Brother-like foreboding where the corporation has too much control.
For me, the most intriguing part of the film is that the replicants are often more emotional and exhibit more authentic moments of humanity than the actual humans. Roy Batty, the lead replicant and the most deadly, in particular, understands the essence of humanity more than any other character. This makes him very relatable which is strange considering he has been manufactured in a factory.
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
Blade Runner was loosely based on a book by Philip K. Dick, entitled Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? In short, the book talks about a society wherein humanoids are created for specific purposes. Being robots, these characters are much easier to adjust to one’s liking and become way more predictable. In a nutshell, these androids were created to be slaves of humans.
Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter is then introduced as the main character. His goal here is to ‘retire’ androids for money so he can eventually replace his electric sheep with a real sheep. The problem arises when he falls in love with an android and in so doing, Deckard learns more about himself and what it really means to be human.
If you’re a big fan of the movie like I am, I suggest you delve deeper into the world of androids aka replicants and read Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? It’s a fun, albeit rather trippy read.
A Cult Following
Over the years, Blade Runner has garnered itself a cult following. The dark, dystopic theme and setting coupled with enigmatic symbolism and ambiguous messages resonate with audiences far and wide. I, for one, am besotted with this movie and watch it at least once a year.
Firstly, I’m drawn to dark, eerie atmosphere, neon-noir billboards and lighting which define the cyberpunk genre. Secondly, Blade Runner, set in a dystopian, high-tech world, projects a scarily realistic vision of the future. Finally, I can’t get enough of the electronic Vangelis score which adds to the overall cinematic and epic quality of the film. I get so drawn into Ridley Scott’s world that it’s hard for me come out of it again.
The Best Monologue In Film History (spoiler alert)
Of course, we have to talk about one of the truly great scenes in film history – the Tears in Rain monologue.
The climax of the movie is a bizarre and thrilling fight scene between Deckard and Roy, the lead replicant. Roy was specifically bio-engineered to be violent and this coupled with the fact that Deckard has just killed his replicant girlfriend, Pris, makes him pretty hard to handle, especially after he sadistically breaks Deckard’s fingers on his shooting hand.
The chase ends with Deckard and Roy on a rooftop. In a desperate attempt to flee his psychotic pursuer, Deckard tries to jump to another building, but doesn’t quite make it and is left hanging from a steel girder. Roy makes the jump easily and stands above Deckard, the battle now clearly his. In a surprising turn of events, he lifts Deckard up to safety.
Roy then delivers the iconic, Tears In Rain, monologue.
The scene is poignant and moving because Roy, who is wired to kill, ends his life in defiance of his true nature, in defiance of the corporation that made him. This act of supreme compassion makes you question his so-called replicant nature and the belief that only humans can be humane.
Replicants are indeed created for a specific purpose, but for a brief moment, we get to see that despite all of their inborn tendencies, they still possess traits of humanity. Roy may just be a machine, but his experiences and memories of them are still important to him and this human-like realization is what makes it so beautifully sad.
Unlike Roy’s memories, the Blade Runner legacy will live on in the hearts and minds of discerning fans the world over and the collective memory of experiencing it will never be lost, like tears in rain.
Blade Runner Gift Ideas
There is a lot of memorabilia out there, especially on Amazon, Etsy and Ebay. Amazon is usually cheaper with more selection and so I’ve chosen them. And if you’re not super satisfied with what you’ve bought, their returns policy is really good.
With so much to choose from, where do you start? My focus has been on cool, fun and quirky items, all garnering decent ratings from well-priced sellers.
Please note that I am an Amazon Affiliate and receive a small compensation if you use my links, but it will not increase your purchase price. If you use my links, I truly appreciate it 😉