There are some movies that just matter. They might have been around for a while, but their influence and impact on cinema has been unmistakable. When looking back over the years, there is no doubt the conclusion will be reached that Blade Runner has been one of the most influential and important movies of the past 50 years.
Ridley Scott’s cult science fiction cyberpunk tale changed cinema in so many ways. And, if you have watched a modern science fiction movie, there’s a good bet that it has been influenced in some way by this neon-kissed, rained-soaked, cyberpunk magnum opus. But, what is it that makes Blade Runner such a classic movie? Well, there are a number of factors to consider, and these are some of the most important.
Okay, so the production is the big one here, and by this we mean the mise en scene. The way the movie looks is just simply stunning, and way ahead of its time. A dark, mysterious, gritty, urban landscape is created by cinematographers and set designers. This future is a hellish nightmare, and the influences on movies like Robocop are obvious. But, not only this, it’s the film’s homage to the noir style that really makes it stand out. Scott goes to great lengths to capture noir aesthetics of the ‘40s and peppers them throughout his futuristic masterpiece. Playing with light and shadow, we are treated to a visual smorgasbord of colors, ranging from black & white to sepia tones, to dull grays and browns. And on top of this, there is a generous helping of neon luminescence waiting around every corner.
But more than simply packing a visual punch, Blade Runner also has a strong moral message at its core. It really, truly, deeply wants to explore what it means to be human, as well as the themes of free will, choice, the effects of technology, genetic engineering, and the Frankenstein complex. With an ambiguous ending, and question marks hanging over its protagonist, the movie presents us with a number of questions that stay with us long after the credits have rolled. Blade Runner was way ahead of its time in terms of the story it was telling and the themes it was exploring, and this is what has made it so impressive and enduring.
All great movies need to have a great score, and this is one of the most appealing parts of Blade Runner. Vangelis’ iconic and timeless score is simply unmistakable, and its crescendo paints a stunning aural backdrop to the visual dynamism of the film, as well as the rich narrative twists and turns. The score here is almost like an extra character, lurking in the background, contributing to every scene. Without the score, it’s fair to say the movie would not have the same impact. Vangelis crafts an iconic score which will last through the ages, and has already influenced a ton of sci-fi work.
Blade Runner is a movie that has its roots deeply in neo-noir, but also, in German expressionist cinema. Taking influences from far a wide, the movie is, in many ways, a social commentary on the future, and offers a pretty depressing depiction of the metropolis’ of the future. But the movie also explore and delves into the metafictional side of things as well, with philosophy, religion, identity, and consciousness all prevalent themes in the movie.