A personal essay on 'BLADE RUNNER - The Director's Cut'

A Ridley Scott film based on the novel by Philip K Dick 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?'



This film, I believe, deserves a higher status than that of cult, and is much more than just an acceptable homage to Philip K
Dick, author of many original science-fiction novels, often laced with philosophical perspectives on the human condition. The
film is multi-layered; thrilling and unsettling, part dark science fiction and detective film noir, realistic and dream-like, intelligent,
mature, artistic and powerful. Purely on the surface, it has a visual richness which is wonderfully atmospheric (enhanced by the
soundtrack of Vangelis), drawing one into a vision of the future which is not only a sprawling, technological metropolis, but an
empty, soulless place. It is a film, which not only incorporates the strong themes presented by Dick but also adds its own
mood, more aloof and tragic, which includes through its characters a sense of life's quiet desperation. They are withdrawn
almost, living in a mellow dream which when disrupted, is painful and struggling. The characters seem random, everyday people
of the city, but through the story are united by a will to survive because there is nothing else, nothing but fear. Death to the
replicants is represented by their own mortality and the outside embodiment of the Blade Runners; stalkers such as Deckard.

Throughout the film, life and death are displayed in ways that illuminate their surrealness; life in the case of a radically imposing
world - large, expansive, beautifully decadent, grown strange even to the hero Deckard - and death, especially in the example
of Zorra's death sequence, as a sprawling, slow-motion operatic and disjointed event. Survival is a weary task amongst such
decadence, but it is a prominent theme; the replicants are not human yet they want life, Deckard scrambles extensively on the
rooftops and at one classic point, is moments from certain death. The film itself is called 'Blade Runner' suggestive of the
confrontation with danger that hunting replicants for a living invites. 'Quite a thing to live in fear isn't it?' Towards the climax the
film attempts to bring the viewers as close to the ledge of death as possible. '4,5 - how to stay alive' shouts Batty chasing
Deckard with a nail plunged through his hand, an attempt to retain his failing sense of sensation by an infliction of harsh pain.
This is all artistic nerve touching, and with the roles reversed to Deckard as the prey, the viewer senses the hopelessness of
Deckard's situation.

This highlights another interesting factor which distinguishes Blade Runner from being a conventional sci-fi thriller to a
surprisingly relevant and resonant work; the mix of the traditional with the untraditional. We have the typical cop hero in the
character Deckard, found in a downtown bar at the beginning, wanted for an assignment by the chief. There is the usual love
interest in Rachel, the main villain Batty and his boys heading for a showdown, a few minor characters of interest and behind it,
the clever scientist whose plans backfire. Before long however, all is out of joint; the baddies are not evil, but confused
creatures of Frankenstein seeking like us all, extended life and answers for the pain and suffering caused by grief and heightened
doses of emotion. Rachel, one of them also, complicates Deckard's task and in general there is a sense of confusion, horror in
Zorra's realistic death scene and complexity in man's modern creations and lack of control. Technology, it seems has surpassed
our ability to control and relate to it. This futuristic city is forlorn, lonely and lost. The characters are world-weary; they have
seen and done it all, and are none the wiser. Instead of a great showdown with the enemy where the viewer witnesses good
triumph over evil, we have a prolonged, desperate fight. Our hero is disarmed, forced to flee and is saved by the enemy who is
dying anyway. It is a scene where we wait to see if Deckard will survive and return to salvage all that he now cares about - his
strange love for Rachel. After this case, we may discern that Deckard 'won't work in this town again'.

It has been suggested that the film suffers from an identity crisis through not knowing whether it is a science fiction thriller or a
clever detective film noir. This was never the case. Like in the book,