#134: Blade Runner (1982)

When and how did I watch this?

May 19th and 20th, 2016, on a random site.

Had I seen this film already?


What did I know about the movie before watching it?

This one was hyped up among friends.  I had high expectations walking into it.  I knew it was sci-fi, Ridley Scott, and starred Harrison Ford.  Not much else here.

What do I know about it now?

Initially, I was underwhelmed.  While the visuals and sound enraptured me almost immediately (I can still feel the moist air and feel the cold shadow of the towering buildings now), I was never really caught up into the story. I guess this wasn’t a priority in terms of production — the atmosphere did a lot more than the plot line ever could have — but I wanted more. Where did Deckard come from? Why are Rachel and Deckard having a random romantic relationship so quickly? (I can surmise, but that’s the best I can do). I wish I knew more about Sebastian as well.  There’s a lot of “empty space” in the film, which has a dual effect: it leaves out “imperative” info, but it also makes you kind of marinate in where you are.  This happened numerous times, and it had the intended effect. The final twenty minutes or so is where the meat of the movie is, where everything comes together.  Everything is tense, occasionally fast, and ultimately profound.  What does it mean to live? While our subjective world defines that by the individual’s personal perspective, there is one purpose for being alive, and that is simply to experience it while you still can.  Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes echoes this sentiment.

What are some themes in the film?

Pleasure and pain, destiny, existentialism, dystopia, revenge

Did this affect me personally?

Yes.  Numerous images will remain. One in particular that repeated was a fly-by view of the side of a building featuring a huge looping video ad of an Asian woman. She would place a pill in her mouth, and then glance at you with a subtle smile as if expressing her satisfaction, but also as if keeping her eyes on your activity (see Big Brother in 1984 or the eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg in The Great Gatsby).  Poignant and haunting.

Why is this ranked #134?

Viewers might recognize some of its innovative sci-fi traits.  I don’t know how many precedents there are to a film like this (Star Wars immediately comes to mind, but it might not be comparable), but it certainly does its best with the available technology and resources.  Certainly it’s not the first to present a story about a dystopian society, but it might be one of the first movies to give it a proper treatment. This is respectable and encourages high ratings.

Did my wife watch/like it?

She only caught glimpses.  It was a bit much for her, as it might be for people that can’t handle high tension and stylized violence.

Would I watch it again?

I would love to see it in a better media format.  The video quality I saw it in was somewhat poor.

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Yes. I would guess many friends have seen this, but those who haven’t and enjoy this particular genre will probably find it to be one of their favorites pretty quickly.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

At first, I had trouble assessing it as such, but much of what the film is trying to communicate requires some introspection and a lot of appreciation for the visual aspect (not to underplay the sound and superb acting). Much like a high intensity quality metal song, one might find the “noise” grating and some of the content could generate uneasiness, but there is a firm appreciation for the art in the end, especially because it creates the intended effect. It’s difficult to do this in any film without appearing pretentious or too forceful in the approach. Blade Runner succeeds in avoiding this while adding some very profound moments in the end, many of which I said “Wow” aloud while they unfolded.

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