Los Angeles, 2019. Bursts of flame erupt over a city bathed in perpetual twilight. From the pyramidal offices of the Tyrell Corporation, we see an eye in the foreground, the lights of the city reflected in it. It is not yet known if this eye is human. But ultimately, in Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi masterpiece, the eye of the beholder is irrelevant. In the world of Blade Runner , the future is a hellscape with no way out. Is it any wonder, then, that Rutger Hauer’s band of rogue replicants – humanoid worker robots designed to blend in with the flesh-and-blood population – have decided to revolt, seeking a moment of freedom during the last days of their pre-programmed lives?

Based on Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep , Scott’s film created a world so rich, so dirty and damp and worn, so visually stunning, that imitation was inevitable. Less gymnastic than Terminator , less wacky than Terry Gilliam’s Brazil , and less apocalyptic than Mad Max , Blade Runner arguably defined not only 1980s sci-fi, but sci-fi cinema in general, in the forty years since its inception. premiere. From Ghost In The Shell , through Total Recall and Minority Report , to Black Panther ,Blade Runner owes a debt of gratitude.

Building on the formula he perfected in Alien (1979), Scott moved his world of dirty industries and neon-lit shadows, evil androids and marooned protagonists to California, trading Alien ‘s body horror for police procedural. Deckard is certainly not Ellen Ripley, but in its portrayal of the battered and bruised detective fighting the system, Blade Runner is a Chinatown from the future. The fact that this was only Scott’s third film as a director makes it all the more impressive. (As a note, has Harrison Ford’s three-film streak ever been surpassed: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), andBlade Runner (1982)?

The film was a critical and commercial failure in the United States, but VHS sales and endless reissues made it a cult film. (In 2004, it was even voted the best science fiction movie of all time by a group of scientists from around the world.) Today, it’s hard to imagine a sci-fi movie that isn’t an homage. Would HBO’s Westworld have updated its 1973 film version with such success and style without Blade Runner having paved the way both visually and in terms of its musings on free will? And, decades before Elon Musk seemed set to take over the world, Blade Runner ‘s Tyrell Corporation (and, indeed, the Weyland-Yutani ofAlien ) was inspiring evil empires, from Resident Evil ‘s Umbrella Corporation to RoboCop ‘s Omni Consumer Products and Terminator ‘s Cyberdyne Systems .

Even Ridley Scott’s own work has been inspired by Blade Runner . Its Alien prequels blend the DNA of the two franchises so well that fans have speculated about a shared Blade Runner Alien universe . Scott’s 1989 police action film Black Rain is arguably a less successful remake, sending the detectives into a nocturnal, neon-lit, rain-soaked Japan (the world of Blade Runner was partially inspired by in Kyoto).

Vangelis’s Golden Globe-nominated synth score is often imitated but never equaled. Recorded on a Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer, these ambient textures were as vital to creating the film’s universe as the scenery (which drew inspiration from Edward Hopper’s paintings and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis ), costumes, lighting, and the Orwellian language “Cityspeak” invented for the film.

In terms of performances, it can be argued that Harrison Ford always plays Harrison Ford, but here he loses the swagger of Han Solo and the self-assurance of Indy to become a man beaten by the world (replicant?) than in Actually I’d rather be at home drinking whiskey from beautiful futuristic glasses. As both the replicant and Rachael’s love interest, Sean Young has little to do, but manages to make the character live and breathe.

But like any Blade Runner fanYou know, it’s the replicant anti-hero Roy Batty, played by Rutger Hauer, who takes the cake. Batty not only shows how great bleached hair, a gray T-shirt and a leather trench coat can look, but that he is a synthetic being of dualities. One moment he’s driving nails into his diseased robot hands, and the next he’s cradling a dove while delivering a heartfelt monologue about the fleeting nature of existence. Like the replicant who has seen things we wouldn’t believe, Batty delivers one of the best speeches in movie history in his “Tears in Rain” soliloquy. Hauer himself was in charge of writing the speech, modifying and cutting the original words of screenwriter David People. Apparently, after the first take,

Visually and sonically confident, smart and moody, there’s a lot to admire in Blade Runner . But why has her legacy endured so long? Perhaps because in his grim portrayal of environmental catastrophe, social division, and oppressive authority, we recognize our own world. Or maybe because, despite all its foreshadowing, Blade Runner offers a chance at hope. The hope of a love between two people who are not destined to love each other. The hope of freedom, even if it is impossible. A hope as fragile as an origami unicorn, perhaps. A hope as beautiful as C-rays shining in the dark, and as fleeting as tears in the rain. Blade RunnerIt’s not a movie with easy answers. And perhaps for this reason, forty years later, we continue to redo it, explore it, dismantle it and bring it to light.