There’s a sequel to the movie ‘Blade Runner’ just out, I haven’t seen it yet but it seems to be getting pretty solid reviews. The original, specifically the director’s final cut, in my not particularly humble opinion, is one of the best movies ever made, and for a variety of reasons. I won’t trouble you with them all here, but if you are a writer you need to get a copy of that version of the movie and watch it a few times. The first time through you’ll probably get too absorbed in the characters and the atmosphere, which is why you need to watch it a second time. Look for the structure, watch for the way Ridley Scott plays you. He’s like a magician, he distracts you with loud noises and shiny stuff while he conducts the real business of the movie off to the side, where you won’t notice. This is part of what elevates this movie from entertainment to art, and it’s what all of us should strive for in our work. Scott keeps you so entranced with his left hand that you don’t see the right coming until it’s too late. It’s a perfect setup, because this movie is not about dystopian futures, it’s not about jaded cops, or sex with robots, or LA getting more rain than London. It’s not even about whether or not slavery is ever justifiable, under any circumstances.
Those are the distractions.
The movie’s purpose and impact come in one scene right near the end, and Harrison Ford is not in it. Rutger Hauer’s character, half human and half machine, after much travail, finally gets to confront his creator, and he has one prayer, one very human request: ‘I want more life…’ Who doesn’t? And when he gets his inevitable answer (it isn’t gonna happen), he kills God.
As we have done.
And then he dies.
Fucking brilliant. There is nothing more relatable or more elemental than that. How do you confront your own mortality? How does anyone? Do you allow yourself to be distracted by the shiny stuff or do you buy what one of the scam artists with the tax exemption and the thousand dollar suit is selling? In lesser hands this could have been dull or preachy, but it isn’t. If you are a writer, you need to pay attention, because The Man is showing you how it’s done.