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Blade Runner

Thank you Camo for unintentionally reminding me to post this via the controversial film opinions thread! Anyway, this is a film I hugely adore now; Ridley Scott's Blade Runner.

The world is developed with such intricacy, to an extent I have never seen matched. Everything to the last detail has been altered in some way to create a futuristic environment that is credible and probable (even if they overestimated how long that would take). But it made the experience all the more compelling, you can't help but pay attention to the lavish set pieces, the elaborate clothing, the sleek hairstyles, and the gorgeous make up without thinking that this is what the not too far away future will look like. Even owning real animals as a sign of advanced social status appears like a trend the modern world would probably employ in such a circumstance. So on this level alone, the film was nothing short of fantastic.

Yet every additional layer is just as provoking. I found the writing to be impeccable, it didn't solely focus on action and cheesy one liners like many similar films produced in the 80s did, a possibility that could have been all too real regarding the simplicity of the basic plot. A man is instructed to hunt down and kill 4 outlaws is what the film is about at the most basic level. Yet instead of characterising the main character as infallible, and the hunted as antagonists, the film mixes it up a little by developing everyone involved to make everything they all do questionable, and not so easy to definitively define. The replicants only want to live as long as their human counterparts do and to be as developed as they are, okay they do some lurid things in order to achieve this goal, but not everyone they eliminate is undeserving of criticism either, Dr Tyrell being the most striking example to come to mind.

It also tackles many themes. At first, I thought it was just about what it means to be human, but the longer it went on, I gradually found myself believing it to be about what it is to belong. All of the characters are isolated in some way, and the ones that prevail are the ones that have something to fight for (Deckard for Rachael) and seems to raise the point that we aren't complete until we find the missing part, as reflected by Rachael's inexperience and naivety humbling the somewhat impulsive and eruptive Deckard. I admittedly could be talking out my arse here, though

Onto the acting, and this isn't as clear as other aspects of the film, because not everyone shines, but those that do, do so brightly. I loved Sean Young in this, she occupied such little time in this film, but she made the very most of every second. I felt she possessed such an alluring presence in the film, and something was missing when her character was dismissed, for example, from the Voight-Kampf test scene. The reason I loved her so much in this as well is because she provides validity to the motto of the Tyrell corporation "more human than human" and she makes this apparent due to the transitions she implements in her performance to convey Rachael's emotional development. At first, Rachael's face is extremely stiff and makes very little movement regardless of what state she is in; her voice always deploys the same monotonous, husky tone. Even when she finds out she is a replicant and she bursts into tears, her face remains almost paralytic. But then during the "love" scene her corporate and robotic image is removed as she begins untying her hair and removing her make up to reveal a far more naturalistic persona that manages to convey emotion through both her voice and mannerisms. Despite its almost rape like imagery, this has to be my favourite scene in the entire film, and I'll explain a little while later! But notably, this singular scene shows how complex the film is, because it means something far more sinister when taken out of context, and that context changes everything in regards to film to make us view certain imagery a bit more differently.

Aside from Ms Young, the other outstanding performance was delivered by the leader of the replicants, portrayed by Rutger Hauer. He was intriguing for reasons vastly different to Ms Young. He's sinister, yet always sympathetic, and I couldn't help but think that he was intended to allude to Satan from Paradise Lost, with both of them being rejected by their creators and therefore seeking vengeance on them through any means necessary. I'm not going to lie, I didn't find him anywhere near as magnetising as Ms Young, but it doesn't remove the fact that he was outstanding on his own.

Their performances were guided by Scott, who insisted on casting Young over the more popular choice of Barbara Hershey, and as usual, Scott was incredible in his work here. Coming from the same region as him, I've always had a soft spot for he and his brother, Tony. But his work was magnificent as it usually is. The lighting, the camera angles especially (that made the metallic layer in the replicants eyes visible) just made it all the more entrancing. In any film I've ever seen, I think the image of Rachael standing with her hand on her hip, with light illuminating her figure as she looks into Deckard's apartment with the hypnotic sounds of Vangelis' saxophone playing away in the background is my favourite shot in any film. I'll leave it here for you lovely people to see

Finally, to conclude all of this, there was the soundtrack! Vangelis is a genius, and his work here made many scenes haunting and impacting. It matched every scene with such precision, I'd even say it tops Goblin's work on Suspiria... but not quite However, he, like Goblin were in 1977, was robbed of an Oscar.

There is a huge disparity regarding the intention of Deckard's character. The writer of the script intended it to be ambiguous, Scott affirmed that he was absolutely a replicant, whilst Ford believed it too was ambiguous. This lack of cohesion and clarity manifests itself into Ford's performance here. At times, Deckard is too cold to possibly be perceived to be human, but too emotional during other occasions during circumstances that are far beyond the capabilities of other replicants. There was little consistency, and therefore little authenticity to his performance. On top of this, Harrison Ford, despite his impressive list of credits, is an actor I've never been massively impressed by, and performing with the likes of Rutger Hauer and Sean Young, who delivered extremely considerate and masterful performances here, his confusion and lack of understanding becomes all the more apparent. To me, Ford was a mess in this film, and did little to contribute to the film's many merits.

I also disagree with Scott hugely on Deckard's status, and I don't like the fact that he stated that he is 100% a replicant... when he wasn't intended to be by the writer anyway. I've already said why I believe Deckard is human, it's that pivotal scene shown above. I just think Rachael and Deckard complete each other, and they develop by learning from one another. But it is open to interpretation, even though Scott doesn't want it to be.

He has the most screen time, yet Harrison Ford is the weakest actor in the mix. Nevertheless, this is more than made up for everyone else in every department. It's a film I just don't think I'll ever forget!