Saturday, February 26, 2011

Blade Runner- Two thumbs up

Blade Runner is my favorite film of the semester. I appreciated the spin taken on what I would think a typical film noir. The futuristic elements that composed the setting created the ideal dark, mechanical, and futuristic world. I enjoyed Rachel's part, and how her questionable mortality affected her role as the film noir femme fatale. Because her character was ambiguous and in danger of being killed, she was not quite the devious stereotype of her character, like Patricia Arquette was in The Lost Highway. She seemed quite sensitive and compassionate, which made her title as the femme fatale only fitting because Harrison Ford quite literally risked his life and job to keep her alive and run away with her. I feel that her character served to exhibit the differences between the various replicates, further explaining their capabilities to be completely different from one another.

I also thought the movie to comment upon the question of what it really meant to be human. We as viewers never really know if Harrison Ford is a replicate or a human, and he seems not to have many advantages at all, if he is human, other than the fact that he isn't being hunted. I feel that the movie serves to question whether humans really are the most dominant life forms. The replicates made by the humans come back to Earth, prepared to take any pains to have their lifespans increased. They seem, all in all, to be more intelligent, clever, and much more cunning than the humans are, which could symbolize that humans aren't even fully aware of the consequences and capabilities of things they create.


  1. Kasey- I particularly enjoyed your comparison between Rachel as femme fetale to Alice/Renee's role in Lost Highway. Quite a different take on women in this version of film noir, isn't it? Rachel does not use sex to get what she wants; Deckard is mesmerized by her nonetheless. She does not want money or power; she wants Deckard to understand her.

    I will also apologize because I couldn't resist posting about a completely different character and really wanted to blog about it:

    Edward James Olmos

    I thought I’d redirect the focus of the class from Deckard, Rachel, and Roy to a more obscure, mysterious character: Gaff. Edward James Olmos, who for those who do not know, is considered an institution in the sci-fi realm. He was Captain (later Admiral) Adama of the Battlestar Galactica. (I am not a nerd, just well-read ;). It might be safe to say that when you see him in a movie or show you know instantly, A) this is going to be good and B) this is going to be weird. His inclusion in the film for many makes Blade Runner that much more awesome.

    And now on to discussing the character of Gaff himself. Gaff’s role in the film is at once minute as it is great. The amount of dialogue and scenes in the film with him in it are minimal, yet he plays a central role in how the audience orients itself around Deckard in his blade runner position. His almost invasive presence in Deckard’s life reminds us of the pressures Deckard faces from the police. “Remember if you’re not cop, you’re little people,” Bryant remarks. Gaff is like a hound, pushing Deckard to do his job, a minion of Bryant. In the theatrical version, Deckard tells us that Gaff is fishing for a promotion so he does Bryant’s bidding.

    In addition, I think it is noteworthy to look at the lines Gaff has in the film. Two lines or so in Cityspeak and only 2 lines more at the end in English. Why does Gaff speak English to Deckard at the end and not at the beginning? Surely as a seasoned cop, Gaff would have done his homework to know Deckard did not understand Cityspeak. Gaff’s only lines are to make Deckard come with him to see Bryant and then after Roy’s death, he poignantly remarks, “It’s a shame she won’t live. But then again who does?” For a character who has the most minimal lines in the film, this quote leaves a mark upon the audience- no one knows when their time is up, human or replicant. The video I’m posting below shows how much work Olmos put into his role, a role which many who watch this film may take for granted. He spent a great deal of time working on configuring his Cityspeak lines; he wanted them used in the film (also demonstrating, the power of an actor to change the direction a movie). Gaff is the only character in the film that we see uses Cityspeak. If not for his lines, we might not know that the language of the day had changed. His wardrobe is also greasily neat; we do not trust such a dirty-looking, brown-nosing cop.

    The origami creatures created by Gaff seem strange, perhaps pointless until the final unicorn left outside Deckard’s apartment. In the theatrical version, we are led to believe with the unicorn that Gaff had been there- he was letting Rachel live, and perhaps giving Deckard and Rachel a head start before the police started coming after her. However in the final cut of the film the unicorn serves a more abstract, ambiguous and important purpose: we are left questioning whether Gaff knows that Deckard is a replicant or if he simply “messing with his head.” Gaff makes figures of a bird/chicken, a human form, and a unicorn: I’m sure with some deeper analysis we might argue that the figures represent the different forms of Deckard, however, at the moment I can’t quite put my finger on what those may be. Or they could simply be cute shapes or a nostalgia for real creatures and not genetically-engineered ones (except the unicorn).

  2. Okay it would not let me post the video in the comments section, so I'll just add it to the main blog page. grrrr