The very first time I saw Blade Runner it turned out to be a whole drag. Nevertheless, maybe because Harrison Ford was starring or just because I expected lightsabers to appear from those unconventional umbrella sticks, I resisted until the irresistible ending to discover inside me a dispairing feeling of having failed to appreciate a work of art and a philosophical answer to many of my deep questions.Perhaps I was too young to reckon the film in its entire value. It was the year 1982 when the movie was released, therefore I must have watched it on TV by 1984 or so. Eleven years old is not, I’m afraid, the best age to see and understand such a complex narrative.
In any case, being much older now, I still think Blade Runner is a descriptive work where almost nothing happens –with the exception of brief action scenes– whose aesthetics is inherited from Metropolis to Star Wars through Star Trek and all the big hits of the science-fiction genre. It lacks the narrative rhythm one would expect from a great futuristic swashbuckling soap opera –and don’t get me wrong, I love Once upon a time in the West, the paradigm of slow motion spaghetti– or the plain dichotomy between good and evil.
In a sense, Blade Runner is a perverted version of Star Wars. Just from the title the audience has a vague notion of the pure heroic main character from George Lucas’s masterpiece, Luke Skywalker. Unlike the Jedi knight, who walks through the big starred black, Blade Runner’s Rick Deckard rushes next to the precipice instead. The last hope Ford represents is covered with a mantle of antiheroism, and brilliant lights and neons appear in Ridley Scott’s film with a layer of filth while the acid rain pervades everything. Characters are ambiguous to death and the pace slows down to film noir detail. Blade Runner is not a sci-fi movie; it’s a hard-boiled detective plot with a voice-over, lights all around and Vangelis soundtrack to add some solemnity.
But it’s not the huge reminiscences of a distorted galaxy far, far away, or the distopian reminder of an Earth phagocyted by its human inhabitants what trapped me forever. It was, like to the average spectator, the ultimate verses from a superb Rutger Hauer / Roy Batty, a soliloquy worthy of the best Shakespeare, an epitaph of a mysterious eternity just scarcely glimpsed.
Any half devotee of Blade Runner would recited the quote parrot-fashion, but for those not so freak so as to remember every single comma, let’s copy and paste them from wikipedia:
“I've... seen things... you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate... All those... moments... will be lost, in time, like tears... in... rain. Time... to die.”
These words were not genuine from Hauer; at least, not entirely. He adapted the original script cutting off some redundant and not very related-to-the-topic depictions. The result is, anyway, incontestable. Maybe because of the things they avoid to say rather than what they evoke.
I don’t know you, but I, when hearing those definite regrets, thought of an unseen world of wonder, of pieces to fit in a personal puzzle, of philosophical questions and their impossible answers solved right before me. I had heard of Tannhauser before. It was a blatant double-headed long-tusked imitation of Alien, the eighth passenger on the windowsill of a god-knows-what in the inside of a picture card album. The info was clumpsily developed from Ridley Scott’s film’s Roy Batty’s allusion, but to a child it proved to be imagination-inspiring.
I have sought Tannhauser in many other occasions, reaching nowhere. I have heard of Wagner’s opera but I resist to admit there’s nothing else but a powerful knight or a German poet. If we recall our ancient dreams and desires up to the point of believing them true above the real thing, Tannhauser must be a sort of sacred guardian, whatever extraterrestrial it may be, who prevents mortals to discover the truth beyond the eternal questions of the human existence: Is there anything else? Are we alone in the universe? Is death the end or just a deceiving starting point to infinite worlds, strange beings, wonders we never dare to dream of? Is life a motorway to disappointment? Can imagination prove stronger than sore truth?
Showing more than some verses of an unbound unreality could have been disastrous por the success of the film as a cult movie, since it didn’t earn much in the ticket office, but every fan of Blade Runner is still waiting for something going far beyond Rutger Hauer chant to impossible galaxies, unbelievable creatures and mystic adventures where philosophy would meet for sure the limits of mankind’s plenitude.