Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Let Me Tell You About My Mother.

OK, I watched this one ages ago and forgot to put it on my list, and so have only just remembered it. Still have to put something in for it, though!

I think I'm going to need to watch Blade Runner again. It's another film that's been on my list for years - I studied film noir back in uni and as part of that looked at neo-noir and its presence through the last fifty or sixty years of filmmaking, which of course featured Ridley Scott's 1982 film. But I never got around to watching it (like so many of the films that I wrote about... seriously, I wrote essays on any number of films that I have never seen, and got good marks for them too. The power of the online journal. But now I'm trying to make amends.)

But yes, Blade Runner. I finished it and wondered what all of the fuss is about. Which is why I think I have to watch it again. Because, I must be honest, I watched it in two parts. I started watching it when utterly exhausted and part way through I realised I had no idea what was going on and just needed to sleep. So the next day I started it from where I could remember what was happening, but in retrospect I'm not entirely sure I did remember all that had come before my break. I think I should have started from the beginning. But I didn't. So this is what I have to play with.

It is 2019 and Los Angeles is a dank megalopolis, a dirty grey hulking mass of city dominated by the headquarters for the Tyrell Corporation, a company who manufacture 'replicants', humanoid robots used to replace humans in dangerous or less desirable areas. These replicants are not allowed on Earth, but for the occasions where they manage to find their way back there exist 'blade runners', cops tasked with tracking them down and retiring them. Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, presumably one of the better blade runners out there, who is brought back in from semi-retirement with one last job to do.

The latest version of replicant is so advanced that they are developing emotion - this ain't good. However, the Tyrell Corporation foresaw the possibility of this occurring and as such installed a fail-safe device in all replicants - a four year lifespan. But these newest versions, they're developing emotions pretty damned fast, and three of them (Roy [Rutger Hauer], Zhora [Joanna Cassidy] and Pris [Daryl Hannah]) have escaped back to Earth intent on forcing Tyrell to extend their lifespans so that they can truly discover the humanity within themselves.

Tyrell is also continuing to develop more advanced replicants, and Deckard discovers one of these at the Corporation - Rachael (Sean Young) is so advanced it takes four or five times longer to determine the truth about her because she has actually had young memories implanted within her. She is so advanced she is virtually undetectable, and in fact has no idea that she is not human. This poses a problem for Deckard, who is attracted to her and troubled by the ethics of the situation.

So, the usual hijinks occur - Deckard chases around bad guys, who are maybe not so bad after all, simply wanting the truth to their lives and the possibility to see them develop to their full potential. Of course, they can't, and being slightly less than human that gives them no qualms about killing those they feel are responsible.

I like the idea of it. I generally liked the look of it, taking away from the perfect futuristic idea and instead embedding a particular brand of eighties dirt and dinginess. It just... didn't really do anything for me. And I didn't go in with incredible hopes - yes, I've seen it praised as one of the greatest films ever made, but because it had never really appealed to me I was always skeptical about the claim. So I can't say it was disappointing due to expectations. In fact, I expected to go in there and feel the way I came out of it feeling, which is that it was a reasonably average film with elements that I can see could cause people to adore it, but more in a retro-memory kind of way. And this is what makes me think that I need to watch it again, awake, appropriately caffeinated and with a clear mind.

I was about to go through the elements of the film and talk about what I did and didn't like, but I think I should withhold judgement for the time being, not only because I think it needs another viewing but also because it was so long ago. The truth is, I just started to write about the performances and then deleted it to write the complete opposite - I'm too conflicted. The more I think about Blade Runner the more I need to understand it better. The more I need to see it again. So until I get around to it, I'm not even going to give it a rating. It will be a while before I see it again, but hopefully soon we'll see this through to the end.

(Ok, so I just went searching for images from the film, and yeah, the production design is actually phenomenal. Sci-fi films of today try and achieve the texture of this but with all of the CGI it doesn't have the same depth. Yeah, Blade Runner went for dirty, but you could really, really feel it. Modern films, regardless of the level of filth, just don't quite feel the same. I mean, yeah, Gandhi's art direction was good, but seriously, better than this? Which do you think really deserved the Oscar?)

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