Roxy Cinema Presents Blade Runner: A Spectacle In Neo-Noir
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 introduced HAL as Artificial Intelligence that was incorporeal, with godlike omnipresence and a ruthless will to dominate. Before HBO’s Westworld posed the imminent quandaries of an AI true-to-life, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner set the course with a remarkable cinematic style and a startling penetration into empathy, technology, and metaphysics.
The stage is 2019 Los Angeles: a looming metropolis with manifold geishas glittering from panoramic skyscraper screens, and a starless skyline streaked with levitating headlights and hieroglyphic neon. Interiors with Babylonian columns and marble parquets are pierced with golden rays of the evening sun. The dark intimacy of every corridor is intruded by pulsing streams of helicopter searchlights through slatted shutters, and the population retro-fitted to a 1940’s Hollywood studded with punk nihilism.
Though Robert Mitchum and Dustin Hoffman were originally considered, Harrison Ford was cast in the role of Blade Runner Rick Decker, reluctantly assigned to hunt four rebel “Replicants” – androids identical to humans who have been outlawed on earth as their intelligence sparked existential longings for liberty and meaning. Rutger Hauer gives a formidable performance as their leader, but it’s the female leads who are the most memorable. Sean Young stars as the porcelain Rachael, a Replicant struggling with the revelation of her artificiality with a shattering disaffected elegance. Daryl Hannah is iconic as Pris, a murderous pleasure android with eyes airbrushed black.
The film marks the first screen adaptation of science fiction virtuoso Philip K. Dick, adapted from his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, that spawned future productions including Total Recall, Minority Report, and The Man in the High Castle.
Set only two years from now, the film breaches a host of questions surrounding AI with which society still grapples through its inevitable development. What exploitative moral impulses would AI make permissible? Through its own creative accomplishment, would human life become obsolete? If technology can manufacture consciousness and sentience – from what does the phenomenon of authentic life derive?
Blade Runner thematically enfolds these mysteries in one of the most highly regarded films of the sci-fi genre. The Oscar-nominated set design and special effects brand the film as a visual tour de force, and history has deemed it a perpetual inspiration.
Screening Saturday, February 19th at 8:00pm
Words by M.Pellerano