Blade Runner (Director's Cut)
Director: Ridley Scott
Okay, so I did a bit more research on the whole "film-noir" thing, and this movie falls solidly into that category. If you want to read a bit more about it, here's one of the better explanations I came across in my drunken search of the web. You can look at this movie in two major ways. The original release pretty much blew out the subtlety of the film (and, in turn, the major theme behind the story), making it your basic detective story that happens to be set in the future. What was lost (and restored in the Director's Cut) is a much more philosophical look at what truly makes us "human." If you pick up the movie, the Director's Cut is the one to get. The differences are relatively minor, but makes a world of difference in how to interpret the final scene of the film.
Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a "retired" Blade Runner, having given up on the life of hunting down and killing Replicants. These are appropriately named, genetically engineered replicas of humans that have basically become society's new source of slavery as it slowly abandons earth for the colonization of space. Earth itself is a dreary place, inhabited mostly by those deemed unworthy of space travel due to some kind of defect. Deckard gets pulled in for one more job to take out 4 Replicants who have come back to Earth. Through his investigations, he finds himself questioning the validity of "retiring" them with no remorse.
This is loosely adapted from the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. While the storyline is vastly different from the film, the themes are the same. It's a familiar one to PKD, the question of what truly constitutes "humanity?" An additional note, Philip K. Dick died before the film was completed, which is utterly tragic since despite his large body of most excellent work, left us fairly unknown and financially challenged.
Last but not least is the fact that this is a beautifully done film, from the photography by Jordan Cronenweth to the somewhat haunting score by Vangelis to the performances by all the actors involved. While the effects are "old school," every shot still stands up by today's standards. But most of all is the atmosphere that is created, one of a futuristic society that is completely plausible and eerily familiar without totally alienating the audience. Even in the almost 20 years since this film was released, I think it is still one of the most "realistic" interpretations of the future I've seen on film.
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If you've already seen the film, and didn't really dig it, try this line of interpretation... It really comes down to the final scene of the film. If you've seen it before and didn't have it in mind, think about this: What differentiates humans from the Replicants? With embedded memories and emotion, how would Deckard know if he himself is not a Replicant, merely based on the experiences of the Cop played by Edward James Olmos, brought to realization through the folded piece of paper in the shape of a unicorn that Deckard has previously dreamt about.
DVD Notes: Another of the lame-ass DVDs put out in a flurry by Warner Bros. It's double-sided with both Standard and Widescreen, has subtitles, and a visual chapter breakdown. They were actually gracious enough to put the tiny logo of the film in the bottom right corner (?!?) of the menu, so as to not detract from the huge WB logo under the full screen. How chode-like of them! Not even the trailer...