6th November 2023
“…Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”
Flames erupt from towers above a cityscape shrouded in smoke, as flying automobiles glide past, accompanied by a synthesised Vangelis score; this is the introduction to the world of Blade Runner, and it’s Los Angeles, November 2019.
The 1982 cult classic is a loose adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, envisioning a dystopian future where Replicants – synthetic humans – exist. Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a blade runner, hired to ‘retire’ rogue Replicants, and the film centres on him tracking down a group of fugitive Nexus-6 Replicants led by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). Blade Runner presents the gritty reality of a future society, a prospect where morality is questioned – what makes us human; what makes us ‘more human than human’?
The future envisaged by the film shows corporations taking power, a clear class structure where the rich can live in ‘Off-World Colonies’, and everyone else resides in the polluted darkness of the claustrophobic city, where it appears to be perpetually raining. The echoes of film noir permeate throughout the film, within the music, sets and costume, constructing a future that also feels a reflection of the past. It’s, as Ivor Powell explained, a ‘visual poem.’
Watch the trailer for Blade Runner here.
I attended the Blade Runner Night at Static Trading on 9th November, where there was a screening of the 2007 Final Cut of the film, followed by a Q&A with the film’s associate producer Ivor Powell and Paul M. Sammon (author of Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner which you can purchase here). The night finished with an avant-garde short film Death of an Android (Equal Rights for Replicants) inspired by, and including clips from, Blade Runner, directed by Paul Sullivan.
The viewing was in an industrial space, which felt so relevant for the film. When looking from the venue, seeing neon lights in the distance accompanied with drizzling rain, felt located within the film itself. Ivor Powell and Paul M. Sammon were both enthusiastic to engage with fans and sign books before sitting down for the Q&A session. Within this Q&A, they were asked to recount experiences in the making of Blade Runner, including the politics that were present on set. They discussed the artistic choices of Ridley Scott for the film, how a small budget at the time led to various scenes from the film being cut, and how he, as a visual director, had decided to craft the aesthetic of Blade Runner differently from other science-fiction films, before finally debating the question: is Deckard a Replicant?
Overall, the Blade Runner Night at The Static offered me an insight into the world of the film – both on-screen and behind-the-scenes – and this was a great experience.