Just think, Blade Runner (1982) predicted that by 2019 we’d have flying cars, replicants, and offshore colonies. We’ve got just over a year to go and your average human, i.e. me, still thinks doodling a cock on a steamed-up bus window is an act of comedic genius.
What did that seminal movie get right about the world we live in today? Rick Deckard’s hover car – No; Synthetic humans – No; Private-sector space exploration – No.
The movie does anticipate Skype, if only with the added surrealism of an interaction occurring in a bar. Skype in public? I’m too scared to answer my phone on the bus. There are exceptions in my neck of the woods. Only last week, for example, I listened with great curiousity to a bloke who appeared to be on methadone scream down the proverbial dog & bone at his girlfriend for a good five minutes, instructing her in meticulous detail to purchase chicken (“Any fuckin’ kind”) for din-dins.
The movie nails a few things, though. The late 20th century question and present-day conundrum that’s still a wee bit off being ‘hot topic’ – the moral and ethical consequences of creating intelligent life forms and how we can treat ‘them’ considering the consciousness on display. We’ve had Dolly the sheep, and that appears to be the apotheosis as of writing.
From a purely cinematic standpoint, the movie still holds up. It’s more dense and packed with breathtaking imagery than a thousand motion pictures since. I find parallels with Taxi Driver (1976). Someone (I don’t know who) once said that big cities breed loneliness, and I agree with such a sentiment. Deckard is one sad individual with not an ounce of self-awareness who ends up falling in love with a robot. There’s a lot to be said about that – the modern male’s fear of isolation and introspection. It’s easier to put your energies into someone else than figure out what you are or wish to be.
Blade Runner 2049 (2017) is released next month. It’s been 35 years since Rutger Hauer chased Harrison Ford around those teary rooftops. I fully expect the real-life denizens of Earth circa 2049 to be driving cars using their eyelids and I also predict a gram of cocaine being a compulsory 50p breakfast choice (no more Weetabix). That’s my vision of the future.