Top 250 Tuesday #070 – Blade Runner (1982)

Continuing to wend my way through the Sight and Sound Top 250 Greatest Movies of All Time. This week, it’s #070 on the list, Ridley Scotts Blade Runner. For a longer introduction to this series and a look at the full list, just click here. And if you want a heads-up on what I’ll be watching for next week in case you want to watch along, just head on over to the Facebook page or follow me on Twitter (both of those links are in the sidebar) where I’ll generally be posting that info later in the day.

br1Is Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner the best science fiction film ever? Hmm… I don’t think I’m going to go quite that far.

Is it my favorite science fiction film ever? I don’t even know that I’m going to go that far.

What I will say is this: if I were stuck on a desert island and could only have one science fiction film with me, it is definitely the one that I would choose.

Why? Simply put, because this is one of those movies that I can watch over and over again and not only never lose interest, but seemingly always find something new to enjoy about it.

I actually first encountered this movie during its first theatrical run, back before it became such a controversial movie because of the changes made to it by the studio. Or at least before we (and by we, I mean most of us movie-goers who at the time just showed up at the cinema to take in whatever was out without knowing all the behind-the-scenes information that id today so readily available because of this here thang-a-mabob called the interwebs) found out about it all because of the so-called “Director’s Cut” (which it seems really wasn’t) that was released to home video in  1992.

Actually, according to Wikipedia, there have been seven different cuts of this movie made available over the years since its first release.

br2But that’s really not the point of this little essay, and I’m not going to go into all of the differences and minutiae of the changes that have been made over the years. Nor am I going to go into any kind of detailed plot synopsis. Information on all of that, is available readily elsewhere, including the Wikipedia article that I noted above, which has a nicely detailed outline of the different cuts and releases that have seen the light of day since that initial release.

Instead, I’m simply going to say this: this is a movie that I fell in love with upon that first theatrical viewing in 1982. and one that I have remained enchanted by and enamored of ever since.

br4It is, in my eyes, perhaps the most perfect blending of science fiction and film noir tropes that we have seen on the screen yet, and that we are ever likely to see.

Plus, you have a standout performance by Harrison Ford who, despite being such a fresh face in Star Wars only five years prior, does a wonderful job of translating the world-weariness of his bounty-hunter character Rick Deckard (a role originally written and envisioned for the much older Robert Mitchum), you have William Sanderson, who practically steals every scene he’s in as the reclusive inventor J.F. Sebastian, and you have a quite young and relatively at the time unknown Sean Young as the femme fatale Rachael. Even the supporting cast is filled with familiar faces and outstanding character actors such as Daryl Hannah, M.Emmet Walsh, Brion James (whose performance as Leon at the opening of the film perfectly sets the tone for what is to come), Edward James Olmos, and others, all of whom seem to bring everything they have to the movie and in some cases step up their game in ways we had not seen from them before as if inspired by Scott and his vision to really shine in their roles.


And then you also have Rutger Hauer. Actually, what I suppose I should say there is: And then you have Rutger Hauer and the “Tears in rain” soliloquy. There’s a reason this is one of the most noted and most quoted scenes in all of science fiction, and that reason is Rutger Hauer. Hauer’s casting as the replicant Roy Batty is one of the most perfect choices ever made.

Obviously, this is a movie I absolutely love, would recommend to anyone who is a fan of either the sci-fi or film noir genres (and especially those who are fans of both), and which I think definitely deserves its high ranking on this list. If you’ve never seen it, I’d say you owe it to yourself to give it a watch. And if you have seen it, or at least some version of it, I’d say you should give it yet another go.

And, of course, if you ever find yourself stranded on that proverbial desert island… well, I suppose you’d have a few other concerns first, but once you’ve gotten them worked out (and once you’ve managed, like the professor on Gilligan’s Island, to figure out how to make a Blu-ray player and flat-screen TV out of bamboo and coconuts and devised a way to power it, you might just want to make sure that you have this flick on hand. Because until the rescue ship comes along, you’ve got a lot of time to pass, and there are not many better ways you could be doing it.

Here’s the original trailer:

So what are your thoughts on Bade Runner? Is it a movie that you’ve seen or would like to? If you have seen it, is it one that would make your own Top 10 list? Or would it not even crack your Top 250? Also, I’m curious about what you think about my argument that some movies simply have to be seen on the big screen before one can even really judge them. And if you agree with it, what films you would put into that category. Let me know in the comments below.

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