Now declared a masterpiece, back in 1982 Ridley Scott’s futuristic film noir was badly received by the critics. Set in 2019, this meditation on what it means to be human was misunderstood by audiences due to the film’s ambivalent tone. The film was declared a flop, but thankfully the film has garnered a cult following over the years and is now considered one of the best science-fiction films of all time, especially with the 2007 edition of the film which is considered to be the definitive cut.
Based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the film focusses on Harrison Ford’s bounty hunter (or Blade Runner), Rick Deckard, who has been hired to hunt down and kill four replicants (genetically engineered androids) who have landed on Earth in a search for their creator. With an already short lifespan, these replicants question their mortality and seek to prolong their existence. Created to do menial work on off-world colonies, the replicants, including Daryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer, question the roles they play and yearn for something better.
Influenced by Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, Syd Mead provided the futuristic cyberpunk vision of the future Los Angeles. He created a dark, rain-swept landscape, where the rich and wealthy tower over the poor and flying cars populate the sky. Vangelis provided a haunting, melancholic soundtrack which added to the neo-noir atmosphere displayed on the screen. The design of the film went on to inspire Manga with Ghosts In the Shell, films such as Strange Days and Dark City, and video games, including Syndicate and Deus Ex.
Film buffs and budding filmmakers should check out the 2007 documentary Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner which details the production and legacy of the film.
Harrison and Scott are now working on a sequel to the film which is set for release in 2017 and is directed by Denis Villeneuve. It is set to answer one of the film’s biggest questions: is Rick Deckard himself a replicant?