Years later, when Scott was asked who was the ‘big­gest pain in the arse’ he’d ever worked with, he said ‘it’s got to be Har­ri­son — he’ll for­give me now be­cause we get on’

Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - FRONT PAGE -

Run­ner no favours: it per­formed poorly at the box of­fice, and only be­gan to gain a rep­u­ta­tion posthu­mously, as it were, on video and DVD.

Some crit­ics loved it, and saw ex­traor­di­nary vi­sion in its ex­is­ten­tial mus­ings on what it is that con­sti­tutes con­scious­ness, and a soul. Its fan base grew, and led to re­assess­ment, es­pe­cially af­ter Ri­d­ley Scott sanc­tioned a direc­tor’s cut (1997) and a fi­nal cut (2007), which re­stored the film to its orig­i­nal glory.

With­out that an­noy­ing voiceover, one could fi­nally ap­pre­ci­ate that here was a film way ahead of its time. For a start, its look was ut­terly orig­i­nal: when I in­ter­viewed Scott some years back and asked him about his in­spi­ra­tions for Blade Run­ner’s aes­thetic, he told me he’d based it in part on the in­dus­trial land­scape of his na­tive Durham.

Some­how, that grimy in­flu­ence chimed per­fectly with Dick’s gloomy vi­sion of hu­man­ity’s fu­ture, and Blade Run­ner’s spec­u­la­tions about global warm­ing, ex­po­nen­tial pol­lu­tion and the rise of com­put­ers and an­droids have proved wor­ry­ingly prophetic. It was oddly poetic for a sci-fi ad­ven­ture — for in­stance Rut­ger Hauer’s speech in which a dy­ing repli­cant re­calls the high­lights of its brief but ex­traor­di­nary life.

No won­der all at­tempts at writ­ing a se­quel were blocked by one or other of the orig­i­nal film’s par­tic­i­pants — un­til now. Some­how, orig­i­nal writer Hamp­ton Fancher and Vil­leneuve have man­aged to re­spect the am­biance and themes of the orig­i­nal with­out be­ing bound by, or over­whelmed by them. In fact, Blade Run­ner 2049 has man­aged to ex­pand and blow up Scott and Dick’s orig­i­nal world into some­thing vaster, more des­o­late, and grandly epic.

All the ex­is­ten­tial angst is re­tained, and some scenes would not be en­tirely out of place in a Sa­muel Beckett play. But the sweep­ing panora­mas of des­o­la­tion that Vil­leneuve and vet­eran cin­e­matog­ra­pher Roger Deakins have com­posed are breath­tak­ing, and ought only be viewed on a very large screen. Blade Run­ner 2 has def­i­nitely been worth the 35-year wait.

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