Blade Runner

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Two of the more socially conscious of cinematic genres — science fiction and the detective story — have been mated to produce a future-generation Los Angeles (A.D. 2019) that looks like Tokyo or Hong Kong gone to seed. The detective work is somewhat scamped, except for a good scene (echoing Antonioni's Blow-Up) involving a computerized photo scanner and enlarger. And several nostalgic throwbacks to Bogart’s heyday simply misfire: the hard-boiled, first-person narration (eliminated in the re-released “director's cut”); the Venetian-blind shadows; the Joan Crawford hairdo and fashions on the female lead. The sci-fi elements are more fully elaborated, but aren't always sure-fire either: the topography of the cityscapes often seems as flat and jumbled as a Cubist painting, and even the tightest of shots is apt to be busied up with reflections, moving lights, colored mist. With Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young; directed by Ridley Scott. (1982) — Duncan Shepherd

Rated R | 1 hour, 57 minutes
"Casting Katy Perry's Blade Runner sequel the right way." <em>"Blade Runner</em> and more at Landmark's Ken Cinema" "Perfect movie, perfect soundtrack"


This movie is not currently in theaters.


For an early 80s effort so steeped in (Hollywood's version of) punk rock culture, this has aged surprisingly well. I recently rewatched for the first time since Reagan was President (the version with Harrison Ford voiceovers), and was surprised at how quickly it demanded all my attention. Even the tinny electronic soundtrack music sounds better here than on any ten spacerock albums by eerie era contemporaries like Tangerine Dream/Kraftwerk/Kitaro/Goblin/Philip Glass ---

Surprised that Mr. Shepherd cites a Joan Crawford 'do, as everything about the look and attitude of that character screams Bettie Page to me, right down to the archly painted brows. And our esteemed reviewer seems to have utterly missed (or at least found too unremarkable to mention --- or perhaps above capsule was shortened from a lengthier writeup?) the film's dreary sogginess, and the aura of decay and "perfect storm" damages that seems to infect everything on screen, from the epic backgrounds to the lighting, hardware, framing, tinting, right down to the characters' clothing and even their very complexions.

There aren't many films anything like Blade Runner (and the few with any similarity are from the same era - Liquid Sky, Class of 84, Metropolis as re-envisioned and soundtracked by Giorgio Moroder, maybe Dead End Drive-In) This is a future that looks to be particularly soul-sucking, where life itself no longer has much tangible worth, now that replicants have forever muddied up how humans perceive themselves ---- ie a nice place to visit (on DVD), but I admit I'm grateful Hollywood didn't live there long ----

Aug. 13, 2010

Wow, I haven't seen this film since it came out in the cinema. Jay, I like your observations quite a bit, at least from what I can remember of this film. I was left wondering why it rained in future Los Angeles so constantly. But I think you're right, when you're free to speculate it can add quite a lot to the cinematography. I need to see this again, I would likely find even more appreciation for it now than I did then.

Aug. 14, 2010

The cinematography - for a futuristic film - is surprising fifties-flavored, albeit reflective of that era as it unfolded in the pulp sci-fi and men's detective/true crime magazines. I think this sort of boomer underground subcultural texture was purposeful, as the increasingly amoral story does indeed leave you feeling like you've been slumming in a 21st century red light district --

Aug. 14, 2010

One of my favorite movies, hands down. I recently got the DVD collection that has 4 versions... the Directors cut is the best of them.

Aug. 16, 2010

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