And it’s a “liable to be a sequel” according to Scott himself, who was recently interviewed by the Wall Street Journal‘s Speakeasy blog.
When I first heard about this project, back in the summer, it was unclear whether the movie would be a prequel or a sequel. But saying I was intrigued would be falling short. Blade Runner wasn’t much of a hit when it was released in theaters back in 1982, but I could never get my eyes off it — without fail — every single time I rented it (Yes. On VHS). And I rented it several times between the age of 14 and 19. How many, I can’t recall. Like Scott’s prior work Alien, I just can’t get it out of my mind.
I didn’t see Blade Runner on the big screen till 1990 or so (awfully scratched print). And when the Director’s Cut was released in theaters in ’92, I actually drove 2 hours to see it (and it’s not that I’m a sci-fi geek. I drove 3 hours to see Robert Altman’s The Player — I was living in a small Texas bordertown at the time). In 2007, Warner Bros. celebrated Blade Runner‘s 25th Anniversary with another theatrical release (digitally remastered under Scott’s supervision as a so-called “Final Cut”). I drove about 40 minutes to see that one on the big screen, mostly because of L.A. traffic. That’s how much I enjoy the film. And I know I’m not alone in this. The truth is, it’s a strong film. And despite it’s sci-fi/neo-Noir wrapping, I believe it has plenty to recommend it to mainstream audiences.
The visuals and sound design in Blade Runner are simply arresting. And the narrative — based on a short story by the prolific Phillip K. Dick — ain’t bad either, focused as it is not only on a multiple manhunt (synthetic manhunt?) but also on the existential angst of the characters, grappling from their own particular points of view with the sadness of the human condition. But not in that annoying French New Wave way. This is an American movie. A Hollywood movie. It just happens to come across as artsy because it is beautiful to watch and hear.
If Blade Runner is unfamiliar to you, I’m probably coming across as too mysterious. But I don’t want to spoil it for you, not even with a plot summary. But a little background wouldn’t hurt: suffice it to say the movie is set in a future in which synthetic humans — called Replicants — are mass produced to be used as labor. But they’re not seen as human, nor considered human at law. They’re simply genetically engineered lifeforms designed to be “more human than human”. And, as you might expect — especially if you are a fan of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica — they’re just deemed to be too dangerous to mix with naturally-born folks. So they’re illegal on Earth. The job of a blade runner is in fact to locate illegal Replicants and kill them on the spot.
In sum, the movie does force the viewer to ask what the meaning of “being human” actually is, while exploring the themes of identity crisis that so obsess Phillip K. Dick. But watching it is far from being a mere exercise in philosophy. It’s exciting; and beautiful to both watch and listen (the soundtrack by Vangelis is also an old favorite). It’s best appreciated in a theater, but a nice big screen TV will do. There is no doubt that the upcoming Blade Runner sequel will be quite an event. So might as well get ready and acquaint yourself with the original movie. Make it part of your weekend. You won’t regret it. Even if you don’t like it as much as I do, you’re bound to get something worthwhile out of the experience.