In horror and sci-fi films, female characters are too often the victim of the male gaze. Some might offer Ripley’s disrobing scene in Alien as a classic example. However, the mise-en-scene and cinematography of the scene disrupt the sexualizing possibility of the male gaze, and instead highlight the vulnerability of the human form.
Tag: Ridley Scott
Pop culture is currently enjoying a thriving fascination with the potential humanity of artificial intelligence and androids. Spike Jonze’s Her (2013) and Alex Garland’s Ex-Machina (2014) both explored the capacity for romance between humans and human-made creations. Even TV shows like Black Mirror and HBO’s Westworld meditate on potential humanity of AI. Although technological advancement has certainly fueled this current interest, we should also recognize the lasting influence of a film that was truly ahead of its time: Blade Runner (1982).
A corporate computer named Mother, operated from a control room that suggests a mechanical womb; an android from the same company named Ash, whose sweat resembles something between milk and semen; a wage slave astronaut named Gilbert Kane writhing in agony as a phallic head bursts from his chest, like a horrific pregnancy coming to term…throughout Alien (1979), Ridley Scott imposes human reproductive imagery upon the vessels of an amoral corporation as well as a series of space monsters, neither of which possess any humanity of their own. The result is a Freudian nightmare wherein a business’s greed is equated to an alien’s desire to procreate, culminating in either case with the consumption of human life. Whether it’s a company abusing its employees for profit or a cosmic beast using their bodies as a breeding ground, the inhumane imperative that drives both antagonists is one and the same.
That Blade Runner has appeared in multiple forms since its release in 1982 is no secret. In fact, it’s become part of the legend. Picking apart the differences and discerning new meanings has kept people occupied for years and spawned a misleading debate that obsesses over the wrong things.
In particular, the perennial Rick Deckard question tends to dominate. Is Harrison Ford’s replicant-hunting police officer – a Blade Runner as they are more commonly known – one of the very creations he dedicates his life to destroying? It’s certainly an intriguing idea and, thanks to the ambiguity clouding so much of Blade Runner, one that has sparked furious argument for decades. It’s also a little beside the point.
So: is Deckard a replicant? This is the question that most everyone comes to after seeing BLADE RUNNER, especially if the version in question is Ridley Scott’s 2007 FINAL CUT. There are seven distinct version of the film – including the U.S. and International Theatrical Cuts (both 1982) and the Director’s Cut (1992) – each of which is evidence of a continued preoccupation with this dystopian vision of our future. Granted, the broad strokes of all seven versions are more or less the same. Harrison Ford plays Rick Deckard, an android-hunting policeman quite different than most other Ford heroes. Regardless of which version you’re watching, BLADE RUNNER is about Deckard’s brush with dehumanization after he’s assigned to track down a band of escaped androids (“replicants”) and terminate them before they discover a way to extend their own lifespans.
By Kris Tronerud
Blade Runner – 1982- dir. Ridley Scott – Official Trailer
All these moments will be lost… in time… like tears in the rain…
— Rutger Hauer to Harrison Ford in Blade Runner
When Blade Runner was finally released in 1982, after a long, arduous and grueling production history, marked by equal measures of technical difficulty and personal turmoil, it met with a decisively lukewarm reception from a confused and disappointed public. In the wake of Harrison’s Ford’s sudden rise to stardom in Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark, adoring new fans expected to see ‘Indiana’ in another riproaring, uplifting sci-fi epic. What they got was a dark and dystopian dreamscape of a movie, a violent futurist nightmare with the heart of a classic private eye noir, and a lot more on its mind than explosions and derring-do. Additionally saddled with a lugubrious studio endorsed faux Raymond Chandler narration (which Ford purposely read in as expressionless a manner as possible, hoping the studio would drop it) and a mawkish ‘happy’ ending based on unused footage from, of all things, The Shining, Blade Runner was doomed in its initial run; but over the years, a number of different cuts of the film appeared on tape, laser disc, and in festival showings (a total of seven discrete versions, according to Paul Sammon’s terrific essay “The Seven Faces of Blade Runner“) provoking continued fan interest and debate, and with the release in 1992 of the Official Director’s Cut, this emotionally charged, visually resplendent film was, finally, properly acknowledged as Ridley Scott’s masterwork, and quite arguably, the best science fiction film of all time.