I’ve been trying to remember how I first came to watch Blade Runner. I doubt I would have seen it at the cinema, despite the fact I saw a lot of films at an early age. I have a dim recollection that it could have been part of the Alex Cox Videodrome series, so it may have been around the first time I saw Brazil (and Jabberwocky). Blade Runner and Brazil do seem to together in my head, so maybe that’s it.
I also can’t distinctly remember which version it was, but as I have a weird soft spot for the narration on the cinematic release I’m going to guess it was that.
Whatever way I stumbled across the movie it has stuck with me and gets dragged out for viewing on a regular basis. I have watched both the cinematic release and the Final Cut in the last few months before the release of Blade Runner 2049 and that wasn’t even in preparation for the sequel!
Bizarrely it was only recently that I decided to read Do Androids Dream Of Electric, the book by Phillip K Dick that the film takes its basic ideas from. It was interesting to compare the two and the book is really a good read, but you need to leave the imagery of the film behind when you start it. There’s a lot of differences but the essence of the book is distilled into the film.
The imagery of Blade Runner is striking. The lasting image I carried from day one was that it rained in the film. Pretty much until then my sci-fi movie and TV experiences had led me to believe that we would have eradicated such troublesome weather in the future. However, Blade Runner was bleak and dreary and not that far from reality at all.
While it’s likely that I watched the film because of Harrison Ford, it’s the characterisations of the Replicants that have always stood out the most, particularly Pris and Batty. I doubt I fully understood the film on my first watch, in fact, I doubt I fully understand it now as each viewing still adds layers of perception.
Apparently, it has come as a surprise to a few long-standing friends just how much the film is a part of my regular viewing list. I wonder if this stems from being a sci-fi fan at a time when we were considered a bit too weird. Mind you, replicants don’t often come up in casual conversation either, so it could just be that.
Fast forward to the sequel.
I don’t think I’ve ever so excited about a movie in recent years. I’d say it surpassed how eager I was to see Star Wars The Force Awakens and I was pretty bloody giddy about that!
There’s always the underlying worry that a sequel will be a pale companion piece to a classic film, especially so many years on from the original, but the teasers and trailers for Blade Runner 2049 went a long way to allay those fears. I thought I was going to explode with anticipation on the tram journey to the cinema.
I can safely say that from the moment the film started my jaw was on the floor. While there’s probably plenty to pick at plot-wise if you are so inclined, the sheer scale of this film is breathtaking. The look, the feel and the sound are so perfectly other-worldly. Ryan Gosling as K plays it all so understated but conveys much more non-verbally. I still don’t want to give too much away plot-wise for those who haven’t seen it. I was lucky enough to go into completely unspoiled and never want to take that away from someone else, even those who have to wait for a home release.
Even now, weeks on, my response to thinking about 2049 produces a rush of thoughts too fast to jot down or even verbalise adequately. I like that it still overwhelms me. That sort of thing doesn’t happen often in the current climate of films needing to make it big at the box office to be considered any good.
I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing the first film on the big screen, but I’m glad I got to see the sequel that way first. I have since seen it on the biggest TV I could find and it’s still breath-taking but there’s something about the total immersion experience of the cinema.