” Early in the 21st Century, the Tyrell Corporation advanced robot evolution into the Nexus phase- a being virtually identical to a human known as a Replicant.
After a bloody mutiny by a Nexus 6 combat team in an off-world colony, Replicants were declared illegal on Earth, under penalty of death.
Special police squads- Blade runner Units, had orders to shoot and kill, upon detection, any trespassing Replicants.”
In the year 2019, flying cars can be seen in a busy dystopian world. Although being two light years away, im sure Ridely Scott will now have a very different view-point on how things would look like. We still have better tv screens, better lighting, but you have the busy chaotic environment just right, just no flying cars..yet.
In the movie, Advanced technology seemed to have created engineered robots that look exactly like humans, resembling strong strength and agility and most importantly a persona of sorts through memory implants. However they are banned from Earth as they are used as slave labour and other work that seem hazardous to the human race.
Rick Deckard is a retired police officer trying to enjoy his noodles in the hustle and bustle of the city when he is grabbed by some men who say “ you are under arrest”.
He is brought back to his old workplace under the supervision of his superior boss -Bryant because ” no one is good as an old blade runner”, who wants him to get back to work. He learns that a group of replicants- Leon, Roy, Zhora and Pris have escaped and come to Earth as they have a lifespan of four-years and want to extend their lives, led by their supposed leader Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer).
Decker starts his search to ‘retire’ (to us that means kill) these replicants but his job is no easy task as he needs to find them first.
Upon visiting Dr. Eldon Tyrell, Decker is surprised to find an experimental Nexus 6 Model named Rachael who looks as every bit human dressed head to toe in a glamorous black outfit who even smokes.
When Decker begins to test her using a machine designed by asking a series of questions, whilst scanning the eye to distinguish between a human and an Android, he finds her answers ‘humane’, as she answers short but steadily, thinking of her answers carefully almost from the back of her mind. At one question she even remarks “is this testing whether I’m a replicant or a lesbian “.
There is a great short chase scene with a stripped snake charming dancer that turns out to be Zhora, who flees upon being discovered by Decker. As she runs through the busy crowd, Decker shoots at her several times as she smashes through the shop glass with every stagger, spraying blood with the swipe of her transparent coat which is stylishly framed as if it was an artwork and the synthesizer music throughout the film adds to the feel of this neo dystopian world they live in.
When i first watched this movie, i was young and felt empathy for the replicants who try their best to manage living in such a grisly society where they cannot understand why they can’t survive. When i re watched this, i felt a stronger sense of sadness and pain with experiences changing in my own life, that it gave me a different perspective to viewing it again.
To see the replicants in such a dire situation was more heartfelt, especially towards Rachael and Roy. Scott himself, regards this as one of his most personal films and in an interview he explained that he “liked the idea of exploring pain“. At the time he would visit his brother in hospital which he said was traumatic and painful for him that he reflected through the characters own struggles to survive in the movie.
In a scene with Decker and Rachael, she visits his apartment and shares ‘memories’ of her childhood with photos to show she is real. Tears silently rolling down her face as she begins to realise they are memories from a random human child. However Decker later swayed by some form of attachment embraces her forcefully saying ” say kiss me”.. to which she responds “kiss me”.
It is that very moment Decker seems to open up to the possibility of looking beyond a replicant, something he never gave much consideration as it was merely his way to hunt them and kill as a job, ” replicants are just like any other machines, their either a benefit or a hazard”, not accounting for any form of lifestyle or social one for that matter, why it is but what it could be, portraying an emotion from both of them ‘feeling’ lonely in different circumstances.
Roy also with stored images describes his feelings as if it were his own, ” i’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe..” despite me knowing it can’t be true, it is a touching moment to behold and emphasises the bittersweet tragedy of exsisting . ” quite an experience to live In fear isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave”.
Their appreciation for life goes beyond being an engineered creation, even with stored memories, you see the sadness and emotions in their eyes, (or are they programmed to feel this way on command), which reflects the newer nexus model being ‘more ‘human than human’ as Tyrell states ” the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long”.
It is a remarkable script that author Phillp K. Dick should be praised for, coming up with the original idea in 1968 – Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. I love his novels on such topics that were also later made into movies such as A Scanner Darkly , Minority Report and Total Recall of a few that I enjoyed reading.
The movie is rich in knowledge of creating a nostalgic neo sci-fi movie that goes beyond the laser works. It is not a future with beaming energy and shining gadgets, but rather focuses on the gritty aspects of labour, decaying and corruption.
It is the context on which this movie is based that define this to be such an influential classic throughout movies in history. So much that it has been brought back to life in the future movie Blade Runner 2049 which will be directed by Denis Villeneuve.
” it’s a shame they won’t live but who really does?” which displays the message throughout Blade Runner of what it means to be human.
Credits: Directed by Ridley Scott. ( based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep).
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah, Joanna Cassidy and others.
Music by : Vangelis
Other honourable mentions from 1982 that I love:
The Thing by John Carpenter
The Secret of NIMH by Don Bluth