There are some movies in the cinema canon that everyone tells you from the moment you’re old enough to have an opinion on stories that you need to see. In the realm of sci-fi, Blade Runner is pretty much it. I’ve read more about people saying that this movie was the seminal work of speculative film, and you don’t deserve to call yourself a nerd if you haven’t seen it.
Even more than that, you have to make sure you see the right version, because there’s like a hundred of them, and they’re best categorized as the ones that are good and depressing, and the ones that are bad and less depressing.
First you have the bad ones that are based on the original theatrical cut that had Harrison Ford doing a voiceover to explain what was going on because viewers are idiots and can’t be trusted to figure out the plot of a two hour movie. Then you have the good ones that are based on Ridley Scott‘s edit that removed the voiceover and added in this one really important scene with a unicorn and–
Okay, I get it. I’ll watch the frikkin’ movie.
So I watched it a couple years ago while Rachael and I were visiting her parents. It was the Director’s Cut, which means that it was technically a good version.
I think I may have slept through the second act.
I also, inexplicably, got hung up on the fact that the lead actress’s name is Sean Young and couldn’t help wondering if she was actually a guy in drag because she has a very androgynous face (at least that’s what I was thinking the first time I watched it; I was tired, alright?).
It probably goes without saying, but I didn’t come away from the movie with a very strong impression the first time I watched it. I understood that it was slow, and it was dealing with questions of memory and emotion and the validity of a subjective personal history, but I just didn’t have much else to say about it at the time. I’d seen it, so that was good enough.
So, flash forward a handful of years to the Summer of Sci-Fi where Rachael and I are faced with the weekly conundrum of what to rent at the video store. I suggested that we rent Blade Runner because I kind of wanted to rewatch it and just see if I got more out of it this time; also, Rachael had not seen it before, continuing our summer miniseries, “Movies Jason Has Seen But Rachael Hasn’t And Jason Doesn’t Mind Seeing Again.”
Have I mentioned that I’m bad at coming up with titles?
That’s a tangent; I’m supposed to be telling you about my second viewing of Blade Runner. That’s why you clicked on this post, right?
It was good; I liked it.
TS;WM*: I was very much struck on this viewing by how much I sympathized with the replicants. Yeah, Roy’s a psychotic murderer, but he and the others seem to be motivated just by a desire to have a full length life the way that humans do. Also, this movie gets into some very interesting questions about the ethics of AI development and how this kind of technology would operate in relation to humans. The replicants are designed to be slave labor with artificially abbreviated lifespans, but they’re fully sentient and virtually indistinguishable from humans. No matter how you slice it, that’s just crap. I don’t blame them for trying to get back to their creator to get some answers. I also felt less sad about the ending where it’s implied that Deckard is also a replicant. In the original cut, he’s just a guy who’s fallen in love with a woman with a ridiculously short lifespan, and that’s pretty tragic; he’ll out live her by decades most likely. If they’re both replicants, then it’s still tragic, but you get the sense that this is more fitting. Maybe they’ll die close to the same time, so the mourning period won’t be so prolonged. Also, as a film noir this is a fantastically atmospheric movie. I’m really glad that I was fully alert when I rewatched it so I could catch all the world-building details.
All in all, I thought it was worth seeing. If you don’t feel like watching it though, you can watch this 60 second version for funzies, though it doesn’t quite have the same emotional weight to it.
* Too Short; Write More