There is nothing new.
When I heard there was going to be a second Blade Runner movie I ran the gamut of emotions that is likely familiar to sci-fi fans of my generation, a mixture of excitement, hope, and fear, all of which could be best summarised by the following statement:
Please don’t be Jar Jar.
I admit, this is a little harsh given the history and background of each of these sci-fi worlds, but given that Blade Runner was released just ahead of Return of the Jedi it’s worth nothing that we’ve waited a LONG TIME for these movies and that time has only further served to cement the ‘original’ movies deeper in our hearts.
With all of this in mind, and well aware I may be setting myself up for a fall, I re-watched Blade Runner last night, as I am planning on seeing the new movie later tonight.
I’ll happily confess that I’ve only ever seen Blade Runner 2 or 3 times – Blade Runner exists more in popular culture references than in my recent viewing history – and I’d chosen to watch (for the first time I think) the Final Cut version. Whilst I’d be hard pushed to pull out differences between that and the Directors Cut, and putting pacing issues aside, it felt much more taut and bleak than I’d previously remembered.
Equally with a more mature eye, the performances really stood out and whilst that dystopian world gets a lot of the plaudits there are some subtleties I hadn’t previously appreciated. The long tracking shots as you approach the Tyrell building, and the scene where Roy and Pris convince J.F. Sebastian to take them to see Tyrell stands out. Those lingering closeups could suggest the two replicants are communicating telepathically? Or are those little muscle twitches, half smiles and eye movements, just them processing new emotions and memories?
Of course this movie has had a LONG time for people to pour over it, and all the different versions, to pull it apart and bed in their own world views, their own dreams, their own emotions and experiences. Far longer than any of the replicants had. Watching the movie now pulls a lot of those points into the light, even if it is a dark, sodden, dirty light that is cast. Perhaps that is why this movie is so loved, precisely because it remains an emotional blank canvas and pushes us to see the world through different eyes.
Whilst watching I realised at one point that I was viewing the movie through the lens of Sicario and Arrival, both movies I rate highly and which are directed by the man at the helm of Blade Runner 2049. The jarring pace changes in Sicario, and the gorgeous slow build of Arrival would not be lost in this original movie (and may actually have improved it). Dare I suggest that the return of the genre-defining sci-fi movie could be a success?
So regardless of previous disappointments, and after hearing good things from people I know who have already seen it, I will be entering the cinema with a new hope and a sincere desire to embrace whatever this new movie offers up, and I look forward to what it will bring us 35 years from now.