Blade Runner (1982): a cyberpunk aesthetic

Blade Runner is a pioneer of the cyberpunk genre, with huge cities raining in the dark, neon lights flashing, large Japanese beauty ads playing repeatedly on skyscrapers, people crowding and hustling like rats in the ragged streets, many of the episodes violent and bloody, and the setting, plot and characters perfectly forming a plausible world.

The replicants in the film are produced as slaves, their functions, personalities and uses are set by humans and their life expectancy is only four years, but they have minds that can evolve. As the replicants’ minds develop, they gradually have thoughts of survival and of escaping their slavery and wanting to take control of their own destiny, so how could they not rebel?

Dekka, the hero, meets Rachel as she tracks down the renegade replicants. Step by step Rachel emerges from the shadows, her sparkling eyes, bright red lips, tall and slim figure and the way she sits down to smoke made me throb with Dekka.

That’s what this film is all about, the music, the images and the atmosphere work together with beauty everywhere, the fast paced bloody fight scenes take on a brutal painful beauty; the pace slows down and every slow shot is not just waiting and articulated, wouldn’t you sink seeing Rachel’s side face with her hair loose down playing the piano?

The film is also terrifying, as the replicant Priest, dressed as a doll, attacks Dekka, and after knocking him to the ground, Priest backs up, heels over and builds up strength, leaps onto Dekka’s shoulders, and with his legs clamped around his head, tries to break his neck with his hands, all in one swift, powerful motion. The second time Prius backed up to build up his strength he was hit by Dekka with a gun and his torso lay in a pool of blood, his limbs still struggling and constantly slapping the ground at the same high speed and power as before, a terrifying scene with a sense of mechanical power, explosiveness that would strike fear into every fleshly human being.

The replicant warrior, finding his love, Pris, dead at the hands of Dekka, howls in agony like a wolf and begins to hunt Dekka through the dark building. The warrior, himself designed to be the perfect killer, has an absolute advantage. He lets Dekka go for a few seconds, returns to his lover and kisses her lightly on the lips, Dekka flees in disarray, and the warrior suddenly and unnoticeably appears next to the hero. The fear of greater power, the fear that he might die at any moment. As Dekka struggles on the edge of the skyscraper, threatening to fall at any moment, the warrior looks down at Dekka and says, “It’s a good experience to live in fear, isn’t it? That’s what it’s like to be a slave.

The warrior did not kill Dekka, he sat down in the rain and said: I have seen beauty beyond human imagination, I have seen space battleships blazing by the constellation Orion, watched ten thousand lights shining in the darkness of the gates of heaven, and all that has passed will vanish in time as tears vanish in the rain …… Time to die, it is time. The warrior bows his head and ushers in the death that comes at the end of his four years of life as promised.

It’s a beautiful passage, you wouldn’t expect such romantic words from a violent, brutal, muscle covered replicant. When you see it you can understand that the warrior has taken on a mind of his own, a soul.

I can’t say that the film has any deeper meaning than the beauty and horror that it shows, and I highly recommend it.