Loosely adapted from a novel by Phillip K. Dick, Ridley Scott’s dark, saturated vision of 2019 Los Angeles is a classic of popular science-fiction cinema.
“Blade Runner was ahead of its time and as poignant as any sci-fi film I know just because of its sense of fragile identity. It is a superb piece of future-making.”
David Thomson, Have You Seen...? 2008
One of cinema’s most vividly realised dystopias, the Los Angeles of Blade Runner is a nightmare cityscape of towering skyscrapers, vast advertising holograms and perpetual rain. Three years after the deep-space horror of Alien (1979), Ridley Scott imagined an urban future to rival Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. The ghost of Raymond Chandler’s bygone LA haunts its story of a Marlowe-like former detective (Harrison Ford) assigned to track down escaped ‘replicants’ – biologically engineered beings employed as slaves by their human masters.
Initially a critical and commercial flop, Blade Runner developed a huge cult following. Countless science-fiction blockbusters have tried to replicate it, but Scott’s original retains an unrepeatable intrigue in the central ambiguity of Deckard’s own identity.
Three years later, Terry Gilliam channelled Orwell, Lang and Blade Runner for his own pessimistic forecast of an overcrowded megacity, with Brazil (1985).