Blade Runner – Film Review

The 1982 film Blade Runner is a science-fiction film, directed by Ridley Scott, looking into the future of 2020. The film is set in Los Angeles in 2019 where people have genetically engineered a new race of people, who are more advanced than humans (replicants), for slavery and entertainment purposes. They are illegal on earth and if they are found, they are hunted by blade runners, people who are employed by the police to kill replicants. A small group of replicants decide to come back to earth and find their creator so that they can expand their life expectancy of 4 years; however Rick Deckard and other blade runners are after them.

Blade_Runner_poster
KENNETH MUIR, J., 2010. Cult Movie Review: Blade Runner (1982). In: John Kenneth Muir’s Reflections on Cult Movies and Classic TV. 7 May 2010 [1 November 2015]. Available from: http://reflectionsonfilmandtelevision.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/cult-movie-review-blade-runner-1982.html

I found it fascinating seeing how people from the 1980s imagined life to be in the 2020s. They imagined us to have flying cars, talking traffic lights and interactive machinery; they also imagined it to be very over crowded, dark and highly polluted. I didn’t think that the flying cars looked very realistic, which is understandable as the film was made so long ago. There seemed to be smoke used in almost every scene! It was either coming from a lit cigarette, steam grates, someone cooking or a car exhaust. I like that it made the atmosphere look very polluted and industrialised; however I think too much smoke was used in some scenes, making it look very unrealistic. The planet always seemed to be in darkness and raining, with occasionally hearing and seeing thunder and lightening. This may be that the people from the 1980s predicted that there was going to be so much pollution that it would block out the sun light. The amount of rain shown could reflect how concerned the people in the 80s were becoming about the green house effect. The whole planet looked very grey and gloomy and all the people walking round looked very depressed and unhappy. It seemed that people would want to escape the planet if they could to escape the mystery of planet earth.

The lighting in the film was very dark and grey, creating a very gloomy and depressive atmosphere and reflecting the down mood of the people. Right from the beginning the mood is very sombre with the stark black background and white writing, setting the gloomy scene. The first colour in the film is the word ‘replicants’ which is in red, possibly to show danger, anger and fear. This red colour is then repeated throughout the film, making it a motif. Everything else in the film is very muted and dull in colour, with almost a sepia effect, making the red aspects really stand out, including the coco-cola billboard, the fire and the spaceships. This constant use of red could show that they were always surrounded by danger and the unknown and it could be foreshadowing all the bloody deaths to come. All the lights on the outside of the buildings were very bright and intense, whereas there were no bright lights used inside the buildings, which were only lit by flickering candles or the light glaring through from the outside. The lights shining though from the outside looked like search lights, as they were constantly moving in all directions, constantly reminding the viewers that the replicants were being hunted. There were a lot of very harsh shadows used to create drama and intensity, the dark shadows may also have been used to add mystery and a sense of the unknown as not everything in shot was clearly visible. There was a lot of up lighting on the characters where light had been reflected off reflective surfaces such as water which gave them a sinister look.

There were a lot of close ups used throughout the film to show the characters’ facial expressions and emotions. These close ups directed the viewer’s eyes on just one person’s thoughts, making them more intense and personal. This technique may have been used because there wasn’t much emotion shown by the characters, especially the replicants, meaning their subtle expressions may have been lost in less zoomed in shots. There were many high and low camera angles, giving different effects and atmospheres, for example when the camera looked up at Roy whilst he was standing over Deckard on the roof he looked very dominant, powerful and in control. The camera then looked sharply down on Deckard to show his comparative weakness and vulnerability.

Many special effects were used to create fire explosions and flying vehicles to add excitement and action to the film; however I found that some of the effects didn’t look very realistic and therefore lost the intentional impact. I think if this film were to be re-made the effects available today would have help drastically in creating a very believable looking world. Lots of future technology was foreshadowed in this film, including the flyer vehicles and talking traffic lights, and the sky high buildings with neon billboards looked very futuristic; however the interior of the buildings still looked very old fashioned. For example, the inside of the police station shown at the beginning was very typical of the police stations in the 1980s, with the dark wood and furnishings.

The evil side kick of the police chief kept making creatures out of paper throughout the film and the camera kept doing close ups of them, making me think that they has some relevance to the film. I am still confused why this occurred. It may have something to do with the fact that I think each replicant had a specific animal embedded in them. For example, I think Roy was linked with a wolf because he started howling near the end to show his grief. Another example was the replicant who danced in a night club with a snake and she had a snake tattooed on her neck, making me think she has snake-like characteristics. The replicants were all very perfect looking, like dolls, with perfect skin and makeup. They also looked like they were wearing eye contacts because their eyes shone brightly with different colours, but you could only see this in certain lighting. I like that the replicants look almost identical to normal humans because then it was always a mystery as to who the real replicants were.

I thought that the edits were quite long and slow throughout until the end when Deckard fights with Roy where they speed up. I think the clips sped up when they were fighting to create tension and a sense of panic. There were very long pauses with no dialog and I didn’t feel there was much dialog though out because there was one aim in the story line, to kill the replicants, and apart from that no one really had any friends to talk to and there wasn’t a deep love story, so nobody had the chance to have deep and meaningful conversations with each other. This made it more difficult to understand how the characters were feeling, as we could only find this out through their facial expressions and movements. Slow motion was used when something meaningful happened to let the audience really think about the situation and let it sink in, for example there was slow motion when the replicate with the snake on her face died and when Roy was dying.

As the film starts, there is very light and simple electronic music in the background, however it started becoming a lot more intense as they started telling us about the replicants. Whenever they were outside there seemed to be a lot of rain noise, cars beeping and city noises to show how over populated and busy it was. They used the music to show the mood, for example when Pris first gets invited into the JF’s house the music is very light and cheerful; however when he turns his back is turned the music suddenly turns very sour and threatening to show her evil intensions. After Rachael shoots the replicant trying to kill Deckard, they end up in a flat together and the music is very smooth and jazzy and possibly seductive, with a saxophone, however when Deckard slams the door the music becomes a lot louder, sharper and more intimidating to reflect his controlling and angry mood. The music then returns to the calmer jazz music when they start to kiss which makes the audience feel like they are both more relaxed and comfortable in the situation.

Resources:
Blade Runner, 1982. Directed by Ridley Scott. Ladd Company

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