You Haven’t Seen Blade Runner until you’ve seen it on Blu-Ray
As part of Awards Season at hmv, each week we’ll be shining a spotlight on some of the award-winning films that have recently been released / re-issued on Blu-Ray, and why you there’s no better time to revisit them.
This week we kick off with a stone cold Sci-Fi classic: Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner
What is it?
For Sci-Fi fans, Blade Runner should need no introduction; Ridley Scott’s film based on the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? has, over time, become rightly considered as a classic, but it wasn’t always that way. On its release in 1982 it was met with a mixed reception from critics, some of whom felt the story had taken a back seat to the film’s groundbreaking special effects, as well as an initially disappointing performance at the box office. Perhaps Blade Runner was too ahead of its time for some, but its complexity has stood the test of time and the film has proved influential on shows such as the rebooted Battlestar Galactica.
Set in Los Angeles in the year 2019, Harrison Ford stars as retired police officer Rick Deckard who reluctantly takes on the task of ‘retiring’ four bioengineered androids, known as ‘replicants’ because of their lifelike similarity to humans. They are so similar in fact that a polygraph-type test (known as a ‘Voight-Kampff’ test) is required to determine whether someone is human or a replicant.
The four replicants Deckard is tasked to dispose of are a product of Tyrell Corporation, and their specific model type means they not only have an extended range of emotional responses but also have a lifespan of only four years. When they come to earth looking for a way to extend their lives, one of them, Leon, kills the administrator of his ‘Voight-Kampff’ test when asked personal questions about his mother. Another of the experimental replicants, Tyrell’s assistant Rachael, has been implanted with false memories that lead her to believe she is actually human.
The film, like many in the Sci-Fi genre, deals with themes such as the impact of technology on society, particularly the embryonic science of genetic engineering, as well as cautionary warnings about the environment and globalisation.
What awards did the film win?
Although Blade Runner didn’t win at the Oscars, it was nominated for Best Art Direction and Best Visual Effects. The film did win three awards at the BAFTAs however, taking home the gongs for Best Cinematography, Best Costume Design and Best Art Direction, also picking up a Special Achievement Award at the London Critics Circle Film Awards.
Why is it worth seeing on Blu-Ray?
As the range of awards above would suggest, Blade Runner was very ahead of its time in terms of special effects and the combination of this and the incredible cinematography and costume / set designs make this a visually spectacular film that still looks impressive now. That’s no mean feat considering the advancements that have been made in the last thirty years, but the digital re-masters really show the film in its best light outside of a cinema, not to mention Vangelis’ futuristic soundtrack.
Last October also saw the release of the 30th Anniversary Edition and the Blu-Ray is packed with extras, consisting of a four-discs set including the 1992 Director’s Cut version, DVD and HD Ultraviolet copies of the film's Final Cut, a 72 page hardback book, a toy ‘Spinner’ (the flying cars that appear in 2019 L.A.) and a 3D still from the film.
Even if you’ve seen the film before, the reissue does make it worth revisiting, and if you’re watching for the first time, you’re in for a treat.