Alright! So what got me into making movies or even wanting to pursue making movies?! Star Wars!...ok I won't pick Star Wars. For real though, Blade Runner was the film that really awakened and made me feel like movie making might just be my career. The visuals, the soundtrack, the subtle story beats, the themes of the movie. Everyone's written about Blade Runner already, so this is just my thoughts and rambles about one of my favorite movies. Let's get into it!
I was already a fan of sci-fi, and now getting into movie making, I kept hearing about this movie that "this game" or "this comic" was based on. I got into Battlestar Galactica (2003) and watched some of the behind the scenes where James Edward Olmos even made a few references to Blade Runner, little did I know about his connection to the movie. I saw the poster, thought "So Han Solo in a dark city? Let's give it a watch." My first impression was astonishment yet disappointment. "Was that it?" I thought. Neat visuals, but I think I missed something. I watched it again a few weeks later, the movie was stuck in my head. Odd. I watched it again, and again and again, noticing new things every time. Finally I watched the BTS for the movie, then rewatched the film and loved it.
Cool story bro, but was that it? NO!
I love cyberpunk! I love robots and neon lights, I love dark cities in the rain with fod and smoke, I love dream-like towering buildings above me. The art direction for this movie is one of my favorites. Hell, I made a jacket in the popped up collar in the style of Blade Runner! The costumes have a vintage aesthetic, even for the 1980s, yet combines it with its "modern 2019" appeal, making it a timeless classic. The city felt alive and lived in. It was gross and dingy. Star Trek was always clean and Star Wars was too fantastic; Blade Runner felt grounded.
The filmmaking for the film is as good as any classic movie out there. I love how the camera work swaps styles. While Deckard visits the Tyrell building, everything is lit gorgeously, each shot a perfect static image. When Deckard chases after Zhora, the camera is a little more chaotic, as if we're right there with the hunter and Replicant during this chase. The lighting is harsh, random, dark. It maintains its contrast style throughout the film, but this isn't Tyrells palace of a home. The sound design is incredible. I definitely noticed a few 80s sci-fi tropes (one I'm a fan of), there's a hum in Deckards apartment that elevates and then disappears. It's the same sound you hear in Star Wars and Alien. This sound, along with many others, has a classic tone to it. Similar to the analogue technology the movie uses, it feels nostalgic, yet futuristic. It would be considered lo-fi sound effects, if that's not already a thing. The music by Vangelis I consider to be a classic. It's synth instruments match the tech world of the "future" while feeling distant with reverb. It almost emulates diegetic sound.
(You can't have a Blade Runner post without this shot!)
Let's talk about more invisible things: story, themes, characters. Ok, characters aren't too invisible, but the identity of one might be. The year is 2019, a not-so distant future (I'm ignoring my Oct 2020 post date) where we have flying cars, the planet rains with acid, and corporations rule the world. I suppose we're half way there; we don't have flying cars, but the world rains with forest ash and corporations do some-what rule the world. While Star Trek is a goal we should strive for, and Star Wars is a fun adventure, Blade Runner was always a warning of what could come. Themes of hell-on-Earth, saving the planet, the lower class "citizens" being thrown under the bus, all appear in this movie. But the movie also makes you question what it means to be human, considering that our main protagonist seems more dead and cold inside than the antagonists trying to save their own lives. Who's really the bad guy? Are we not so different?
The story telling can be a little hard to appreciate however. Its pacing is slow, and audiences today may loose interest. Deckard isn't the most interesting character without the "Is he a replicant?" question. But no movie is perfect.
Blade Runner is a classic movie for many including myself. It's an incredible movie with one of my fave aesthetics in film with incredible visuals and sound design, with timeless themes and story elements that are still relevant today. It also inspired some of my favorite stories of all time, from Battlestar Galactica to Mass Effect. I'll probably write about Mass Effect soon actually. And while it took a long time to make, I'm happy that it finally got a sequel, Blade Runner 2049. But for now, this is Matt signing off.