Tuesday, 20 December 2016

On 20.12.16 by KieronMoore in , ,    No comments

The combination of Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival and yesterday’s release of the trailer to his Blade Runner 2049 got my hopes up that maybe the sequel to my favourite film isn’t going to be such a disastrous idea after all. And then I rewatched Blade Runner and am once again flummoxed as to how it can be matched.

I’m getting ever more convinced that Deckard is the villain and Batty the hero, despite Rutger’s terrifying pecs. Batty’s the persecuted minority fighting for his right to live, while Deckard the persecutor and paid killer. Much is made of the film's use of sci-fi and noir tropes, but from Batty's perspective, there's an element of horror (no, not the pecs again) - the lead group of characters being taken down one by one by a determined killer.

In fact, Batty’s not just fighting for his own rights, but those of his family. His relationships may not be conventional (he seems to be both lover and father figure to the wild and childish Pris), perhaps as a consequence of them being cast out from society, but he clearly cares for them all deeply.

Deckard, meanwhile, rapes Rachael. He clearly does, it’s played as even nastier than the usual Hollywood trope of the hero aggressively seducing the woman. On previous viewings, that scene was the one bit of the film I didn’t like, and it’s still an uncomfortable watch, but this time I thought – if it was deliberately nasty, what’s it trying to say? Is Deckard trying to assert superiority over woman or over replicant? Is he trying to prove his masculinity, or his humanity?

Like much bigotry, it all comes down to his own insecurity. The fear that maybe he’s not so dissimilar to them, that his days are numbered too. It’s a morbid film, with everyone in fear of death – “It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?” – and this fear drives people to do horrible things.

It seems that with each watch, Blade Runner becomes more relevant and provocative. Sure, these interpretations may not be what anyone intended, but as much as I love it for the colourful cyberpunk aesthetics and the synthy Vangelis score, I love the way this film always makes me think.

Your move, Denis Villeneuve.


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