Film 2 Essay, Research Paper
This film 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 reality and human dependencies. 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 dystopic 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 (disillusionment and control) but also adds its own sorbefacient mood, which though aloof and tragic includes through its characters a sense of life’s contained desperation. They are withdrawn, living in a mellow dream but primarily lonesome and in need of basic human love or compassion. The indication that many people have left Earth for the (deluded?) attraction of a utopian, resort-style Off-World colony increases the sense of their world as forgotten and abandoned. The characters seem random, everyday people of the city, but through the story are united by an accepting will to survive because there is nothing else, nothing but fear. Death to the replicants is represented by their own heightened sense of mortality and the outside embodiment of the Blade Runners; stalkers such as the weary 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. The role of film noir is interesting in that such stereotypical characteristics are drawn upon and then overturned so that out of cliche emerges a great originality of vision – the future is not just visually dark and pessimistic but also fundamentally old in a spiritual and physical way. 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. Rutger Hauer devised Batty’s death speech – a touching scramble for poetic words to distill the moment’s emotional(?) complexity – and he shines as one of the most three-dimensional film enemies ever. Instead of a great showdown with this enemy where the viewer witnesses good triumph over evil, we have a prolonged, desperate fight. Our everyman 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’.