Blade Runner is one of those quintessential movies of the 80’s, and nobody realized it until now. It was a commercial and critical bust upon its release in 1982, but later critics praised it for its dark imagery and director Ridley Scott’s painstaking attention to detail. This is largely because a couple new cuts of the movie were released since then with new material.
Blade Runner is an important movie with an important message. Its obscurity is off-putting to most people, but it raises some of the most important philosophical questions we can ask. It forces us to think about our own mortality.
Harrison Ford plays a blade runner, one who is in charge of finding and ‘retiring’ cybernetic humanoids called replicants. Replicants look just like humans and are superior in strength but are programmed with a four-year lifespan.
The movie takes place in Los Angeles in 2019. Rain perpetually pours in the sodden, overcrowded, polluted city. It is here that Ford attempts to track down 4 missing replicants who have returned to Earth.
As Ford hunts the replicants down, he meets a friendly female replicant separate from the renegades, and a romance quickly blossoms. As the female replicant argues for her humanity, we are forced to ask: what makes us human?
Ford catches up with the replicants later in the film and we find out the true reason for their return to Earth. They are seeking their maker so that they can be reprogrammed to survive longer than 4 years.
Harisson Ford, tired and broken down after his long years as a blade runner, has trouble keeping up with the leader of the renegade replicants. The leader, called Batty, is full of vigor and is desperately clinging on to what life he has left.
By the end, Batty realizes he is engaged in a fruitless endeavor and prepares to die in his prime. Before he draws his last breath, he says something profound about the nature of death:
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those …moments will be lost in time, like tears… in rain… Time to die.”
And then he does so. The quote is referring to the futility of life. Whether we live 4 years or 70, we meet the same fate. All our sights, memories, and feelings fade with us when we die.
Why it’s amazing
It’s pretty pessimistic, but I appreciate that it makes us think about these important life issues. We’re all heading full speed towards the end of our lives, but what does that mean? Should we enjoy the time we have? Should we try and build something that will outlast us (and eventually fade too?)
These questions are hard to answer, but they’re worth coming back to from time to time. That’s why movies like Blade Runner are important for us to see. It deepens our thinking.
The action sequences, artistic cinematography, and acting also contribute to make this movie great. Harrison Ford was at his acting prime with the release of this movie, and it shows. Contrast this to his lackluster performance in Cowboys and Aliens, and you can learn to appreciate an expertly crafted sci-fi adventure.