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The Beauty of Blade Runner

“The difference between false memories and true ones is the same as for jewels: It is always the false ones that look the most real, the most brilliant.” Salvador Dali 


Deckard: She’s a replicant, isn’t she?
Tyrell: I’m impressed. How many questions does it usually take to spot them?
Deckard: I don’t get it, Tyrell.
Tyrell: How many questions?
Deckard: Twenty, thirty, cross-referenced.
Tyrell: It took more than a hundred for Rachael, didn’t it?
Deckard: [realizing Rachael believes she’s human] She doesn’t know.
Tyrell: She’s beginning to suspect, I think.
Deckard: Suspect? How can it not know what it is?

In his 1982 masterpiece Blade Runner, Ridley Scott creates an atmospheric dystopia that has never been matched. There are visual references to Fritz Lang’s Metropolis as well as Citizen Kane, where the story goes that Rachael’s physical persona was based on the style and walk of the clerk in the bank scene, clickety-clack, heels-on-marble and all.

Below at Tyrell Corporation headquarters.The visuals alone make this film worth watching. The smoke, the rain, Rachael’s pitch-perfect 40′s wardrobe plus meticulously lit, triumphant sets are all scene-stealing and create one of the greatest cinematic backdrops for the film’s morally ambiguous, lone hero Rick Deckard and his no-go Femme Fatale.

There is no mistaking Blade Runner as an homage to film noir (Screenwriter Hampton Fancher had Robert Mitchum in mind when writing Deckard’s dialogue).

Made 30 years after the 1940′s era of film noir, Blade Runner is technically speaking, neo- noir.
Based on Phillip K Dick‘s novel ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?‘, the film is set in 2019, humans have created genetically engineered ‘replicants’- bio-engineered, organic clones of humans designed exclusively for slave labour, menial jobs and ‘entertainment’ purposes (Zhora, left).

They are illegal on earth, and if they make it to our planet they are to be hunted down and killed.

Harrison Ford’s plays Rick Deckard, an ex LAPD, ‘special police unit’ called a Blade Runner, employed to investigate, test and ultimately ‘retire’ escaped replicants, often near their expiry date of 4 years.

*Deckard’s apartment scenes were shot at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House in LA. Built in 1924 for Charles and Mabel Ennis, the house is sometimes referred to as an example of ‘Mayan Revival’ architecture. It’s prominent detail is the relief ornamentation on it’s textile blocks, inspired by the asymetrical reliefs of Mayan buildings in Uxmal.*

 

 

 

 


The longer the replicants live, and as more life experiences are gained, the more unstable their personalities become. Tyrell, their ‘maker’ added a fail-safe device to ‘Nexus 6′ models (right, Rutger Hauer) to prevent them from developing emotional responses, especially necessary with the latest ‘Mental-A’ models whose intellectual capacity was superior to their designers.

Like a Generation X Wizard of Oz, the intelligent being longs to meet his maker (as Roy does with violent consequences) but only finds the end of the road.

No answers, just mortality and a guy with a god complex. If we lived forever, would we lust for life so?

“Memory is a beautiful thing, it’s almost a desire that you miss.” Gustave Flaubert

Rachel get’s questioned by Deckard

Rachael, played by a 21 year old Sean Young, is Tyrell’s assistant, a replicant who’s ‘self’ was developed from a selection of memories that belonged to Tyrell’s niece.

The Voight Kampff ‘polygraph’ Machine, used to test emotional response in replicants.

“Many a man fails as an original thinker simply because his memory is too good.” Friedrich Neitzsche

One of Rachael’s fabulous outfits

Just beneath this basic storyline lies a depth of running themes, raising questions of what it is to be human that are similar to Kant’s assertion that you cannot use a person as means to an end,  thus exploring the concept of empathy. Magnificently shot by cinematographer Jordan Cronenworth, the film is heavily enveloped in a beautiful score by Vangelis, which, along with Harrison Ford’s 80′s tough guy swagger gives the film yet another neo angle.

Make-Up artist Marvin Westmore was nominated for a Bafta, of course I think he should have won for this is my all time favourite make-up of any movie ever. As a make-up artist I can truly believe that this post modern make-up could be a make-up worn in the future as it mixes up so many beautiful, historic make-up references, combining many iconic trends at once, from painted Rennaissance, to Biba, to the 1940s, 1980′s and even a little punk. Daryl Hannah as ‘Pris

                       “I think Sebastian, therefore I am” Pris.

Blade Runner made a big impact of my teenage imagination, it’s release just happened to collide with existential adolescent angst.

Being a literal sum of her parts, perhaps I related to Rachael’s unformed being, a one

dimensional incarnation, all highly considered exterior and no sense of self.

Rachael, coming to terms with what she is, below
Deckard’s patriarchal/saviour-fantasy male however, probably created male prototype folly for (now) forty-something women everywhere.

 

WATCH the scene where Deckard meet Rachael for the first time here

 

Faulty male prototypes aside, I truly love this film, it is as near to perfect movie making that I know. The fact that films of this kind (hinting at big questions, encouraging imaginative interpretation) will never again be given any budget, make it’s melancholy even more so.

“What we’d done was kind of a dark novel. I didn’t really realise that that eventually became the true longevity of the whole film-you revisit it constantly like re-reading one of your favourite books. You always find you get sucked in again.” Ridley Scott

Roy Batty’s (played by Rutgaur Hauer) famous ‘Tears in the rain’ monologue.
A collage of Rachael’s scenes to ‘The Love Theme’ by Vangelis

      One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine… C A S T

Harrison Ford. Rick Deckard  
Rutger Hauer. Roy Batty
Sean Young. Rachael
Edward James Olmos. Gaff
M. Emmet Walsh. Bryant
Daryl Hannah. Pris
William Sanderson. Sebastian
Brion James. Leon
Joseph Turkel. Tyrell
Joanna Cassidy. Zhora
James Hong. Chew
Morgan Paull. Holden
Robert Okazaki. Sushi Master
Director. Ridley Scott
Cinematographer. Jordan Cronenweth
Editor. Terry Rawlings
Score. Vangelis
Art director.  David L. Snyder
Costume Design. Michael Kaplan, Charles Knode
Make-Up Artist Marvin Westmore 
Hairdresser. Shirley Padgett
Screenwriter. Hampton Fancher
Set designer. Lawrence G. Paul
Special effects. Douglas Trumbull
Producer. Michael Deeley

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2 Comments

  1. Brilliant post. I love Blade Runner, what a hairstyle!!

  2. Andrea

    Fantastic article. I’m a huge fan of the movie and a self taught make up junkie. Would love to find out more about the character Rachael’s make up. So if you have any ideas on it, would be much appreciated.

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