Here we are, with the companion piece to the 10 Albums meme that I discussed yesterday. This time, it’s movies, and I’m starting with what is, on more days than not, my favourite movie.
10 Movies: Blade Runner
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”. Is there a more eloquent and ambiguous death soliloquy in modern movies? certainly, I don’t believe there is one that spins an entire movie around on its axis the way Roy Batty’s final speech does. Blade Runner has such a harsh, utilitarian beauty running throughout it– splashes of neon glinting on rain-soaked concrete, beams of light through decades of dust– that this sudden revelation of a beautiful soul, destined to die by uncaring, scientific hands, hits you like grief, and never really, fully, departs.
I’ve loved science fiction since I was a child. At first, like all children, i loved the simple and hopeful iconography– space flight, new planets, alien life. I bypassed the formative children’s texts of my time– my first book was a collection of adult stories, and I pretty much went straight to the Masters and stayed there for many years. Star Wars, a simplistic 1930s story that was already obsolete by the time it encompassed my ages of 6-11, never really took. Doctor Who did, because at its best, it reached for adult answers to questions I didn’t quite understand, as a young teen. The science fiction I loved as a child– and still do– had consequences, and death and pain and loss weren’t pretty.
Blade Runner was something else again. Grey areas folded back upon each other until the moral ambiguity itself became something fascinating– an entity in its own right, where I could watch the movie again and again, from any number of different angles, and always find a new sympathy, and new belief. And this was coupled to a story that rollicked along, with death and danger and very cool things. On top of that, the iconography and imagery spoke to something urban and decaying in my own world view, right at the point where I was maturing into a thinking adult creature, in the concrete-and-steel-and-nukes-for-all 1980s.
Blade Runner struck me at the right time in my personal and cultural development, and posed questions that I can revisit and unpack again and again. The action is tone-perfect, the music drills right through me, and the visuals still give me a shiver. It’s a narrative, visual, and thematic experience that has leached into my bones, and I love it deeply.
So, there’s my first movie. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss another album, and then we’ll go back and forth until both lists are exhausted, and we will be, too.