I watched Blade Runner today for my Awesome Saturday Night Movie. If you weren’t already aware, it’s one of my favourite films. You’ll probably be even less aware that it’s a fair few years since I last watched it.
Well, folks, it was absolutely incredible. The sound. The imagery. The design. The performances. I just fell in love with the film all over again.
And that got me thinking: for me, Blade Runner is a special experience; for many cinephiles, Blade Runner is a critically important movie; for others, it’s meh. So I began to wonder: how much of my personal experience, and my memories of the movie, is tied up in my appreciation for Blade Runner?
The first time I watched it was with my Dad. He rented it on VHS and we watched it one Saturday afternoon. I would have been around 13 years of age. I knew the film well enough, but certainly not to the intimate detail that the internet today allows you immerse yourself in movies that you’ve never seen. I knew the music (my Dad had the old not-Vangelis soundtrack album); I’d seen plenty of magazine coverage of the film during my pilgrimages to Forbidden Planet; I knew it was by the director of my favourite film; I knew it starred Indiana Solo. That was probably about it. My first viewing was like completing a puzzle: finally getting to watch the movie because it having not seen it was a gaping hole in my cinephilia.
At some point over the ensuing years I acquired my own copy: either recorded from TV, or copied from a rental release. I would invite friends around specifically to watch Blade Runner. On my own, I would watch it endlessly until its moment were seared into my brain. I would discuss it tirelessly with my other movie-loving friends. I remember the first retail VHS copy being released, with its piss-ugly sleeve. I remember my Dad being able to get us tickets to the first London screening of the Director’s Cut, which was hugely exciting. I remember the first, very lacking, DVD edition (a non-anamorphic, zero extras, release of the Director’s Cut).
Eventually The Final Cut was released. I preordered a beautiful tin-box edition on DVD and watched everything: all the different versions, and the awesome making of documentary. Mere weeks later, I saw a bluray edition of the same for silly money, so I snapped that up as well.
Watching The Final Cut tonight brought back many of these memories. The movie was filled with tiny moments that I’d forgotten about, but felt like old friends. It was familiar, but also long enough since my last viewing that I was able to watch it with fresh eyes. Had I (somehow) never seen Blade Runner before, I suspect I would have come away feeling that I’d discovered a new friend–much as my recent Tarantino first-viewings have left me. However, my deep love for the movie is unavoidably entwined with my memories of it, and the role it has played across the lion’s share of my life. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Blade Runner has defined me, but I am as much defined by being ‘someone who loves Blade Runner‘ as I am defined by being ‘someone who loves red wine’ or ‘someone who likes horror movies’.
And, of course, if you’ve ever seen Blade Runner and given its themes more than a passing thought, you should appreciate the irony of all that.