Blade Runner is a 1982 American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos. The script was written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples. It is a loose adaptation of the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.
Set in a dystopian Los Angeles circa 2019 (just two years away) the story depicts a future in which synthetic humans known as replicants are bioengineered by the powerful Tyrell Corporation to work on off-world colonies. When a fugitive group of replicants led by Roy Batty (Hauer) escape back to Earth, burnt-out Los Angeles cop Rick Deckard(Ford) reluctantly accepts one last assignment to hunt them down. During his investigations, Deckard meets Rachael (Young), an advanced replicant who causes him to question his mission. The film questions what it means to be human and the quest for life and also thematically enfolding the philosophy of religion and moral implications of human mastery of genetic engineering in the context of classical Greek drama and hubris – and also in a way a take off from Frankenstein.
It shows humans as being less empathetic, cold and impersonal, while the replicants appear to show compassion and concern for one another – the test to find out if one is a replicant is an empathy test, with a number of its questions focused on the treatment of animals. The quest for the rebel replicants to seek out their father, Eldon Tyrell , in a quest to gain more life than the 4 years that the lifespan for their Nexus 6 has, ends in tragedy – all of the replicants die. Roy Batty, the leader of the rebels demands more life from Tyrell and the latter tells him that it is impossible; the replicant confesses his “sins” to his maker and upon getting praise for his advanced design and accomplishments, he then kisses his maker and kills him.
Then there is Rachel, a replicant who does not know that she is artificial and thinks she is human. Tyrell has her programmed with false memories so she thinks she is a human but later has suspicions and approaches Deckard, who starts to fall in love with her and she reciprocates. Deckard kills two of the rebel replicants and saved by Rachel before one can kill him. After his fight with Roy in the rain at the end of the movie, Deckard leaves to find Rachel and leaves the city apparently to hide out and live with her. I am surprised about Roy – he has no problem in killing the others but he saves Deckard though he attacks him. When the latter is about to fall from the roof, Roy catches him and pulls him up and then dies.
While a commentary on humanity, the film asks you the question : was Deckard a human or replicant? Deckard’s unicorn-dream sequence, inserted into the Director’s Cut and concomitant with Gaff’s parting gift of an origami unicorn, is seen by many as showing that Deckard is a replicant—because Gaff could have accessed Deckard’s implanted memories. The interpretation that Deckard is a replicant is challenged by others who believe the unicorn imagery shows that the characters, whether human or replicant, share the same dreams and recognize their affinity, or that the absence of a decisive answer is crucial to the film’s main theme.
The film was a critical favourite but didn’t make money at the bo – it only made $33.8 million off a $28 million budget but has since become a cult favourite and considered a scifi classic. In the year after its release, the film won the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, and in 1993 it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”. I give it an 8 outta 10!