Well, here we are! We've finally reached our #1 choice for our Top Five Stand Alone Sci-Fi Films! Shaun Anderson from The Celluloid Highway and I (The Film Connoisseur) each did our top five lists separetly and we came up with the five choices you've seen all through out the week. While getting these posts ready I realized that we had chosen the same #1 movie, Blade Runner. I think a lot of you will agree Blade Runner more than deserves its #1 spot. So basically, what you'll see below is our respective comments on this science fiction classic. I want to thank Shaun from The Celluloid Highway for collaborating with me on this countdown, its been great, and we will most likely do it again soon. Be on the look out for that! But for now, enjoy our #1 choice for Top Five Stand Alone Sci-Fi Films!
The Celluloid Highway's #1 Pic - BLADE RUNNER (Ridley Scott, USA, 1982)
The resurrection of Blade Runner from misinterpreted box office flop to one of the most important films made (in any genre) of the last thirty years is a testament to the durability of director Ridley Scott’s post-modern approach. The screenplay (which went through multiple drafts) by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples was based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick. A challenging and bleak vision of a dystopian future in which artificiality and paranoia reign supreme. It wasn’t until British director Ridley Scott (fresh from the success of Alien (1979)) joined the project that the true visual scope of the production began to take shape - a scope that caused the producers nightmares and saw them desperately attempt to raise the large budget required. A budget which eventually came in at $28,000,000. Harrison Ford was cast against type as the morose and depressed Deckard, the Blade Runner (cops specializing in the retirement of replicant androids) of the title. Part of the films commercial failure is surely to do with the ambiguities and complexities of the Deckard character, who is by no means a conventional hero and by the films conclusion comes across as craven and cowardly. The acting plaudits go to the brilliant Dutchman Rutger Hauer who gives a subtle and nuanced performance as the lead replicant Roy Batty and invests in him more humanity and emotion than the human’s who seek his destruction. Batty seeks order in a chaotic universe, refuses to work as a slave on the outer planets, and seeks explanation from his ‘father’ Dr. Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel). He is a figure of radicalism whose destruction is required to maintain the status quo. The metaphysical battle between Batty and Deckard is brought to life in a polluted and overcrowded Los Angeles. An ethnic melting pot in which artificial animals are sold on the black market (an aspect of the novel which is almost entirely removed from the film.) A neon lit landscape in which adverts loom large over the populace like dominating sentinels. The film mixes the hard boiled detective element of film noir, with the iconography of science-fiction, and the result is a dark and grungy cyberpunk vision of the future which is married seamlessly to the beautiful music of Vangelis.
The Film Connoisseur's #1 pic - BLADE RUNNER (Ridley Scott, USA, 1982)
What hasn’t been said about this grand dame of a movie? I don’t know. I guess I can go a bit into the interpretations I personally give to the film and why I consider it to be one of the top science fiction films of all time. It was tough having to pick one, but I think Blade Runner more than deserves it. Blade Runner comes to us from legendary director Ridley Scott, one of the most important contemporary directors living today. What I personally love about his films is how no matter how fantastic or outlandish the setting of a film might be, Ridley Scott brings it to cinematic life in the most credible fashion possible. I mean honestly, one look at the landscape in Blade Runner and no matter how many special effects are involved, I am instantly transported to that world. The world of Blade Runner is one I constantly visit for various reasons. The first is of course that it is an excellent science fiction film! The futuristic yet decayed city landscapes. The flying cars, the murderous renegade androids! We have all the necessary elements for a satisfying sci-fi tale. And what a tale it is. I especially enjoy how the rebellious androids are after their creator, asking him to extend their lives! To me, this is the core of the film. Roy Batty, the leader of the murderous androids known as replicants is a being unwilling to accept his mortality. So what does he do? He walks right to the doorsteps of his creator and begs for more life! In this way, the film reveals to us what its really about. Life, death, and how we need to make the most of it now, while we are here. Its a film that speaks of mans frustrations with death. Why must our journey through life end? Why cant our lives continue forever? The movie commments on how life is a priceless thing we should never take for granted. The poetic words that Roy Batty says while he is disappearing (“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…”) makes me wonder if I am living my life to the fullest before I fade away as well. Deckard sums it up best for me: “All he’d wanted were the same answers the rest of us want. Where did I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got?” An interesting thing about this movie is that its based on a novel by Philip K. Dick called "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?". I read it, and the interesting part is that the movie couldn’t be any more different from the novel! They are two very different takes on the same premise. Both films have flying cars, murderous androids, but the book goes more into a religion called 'Mercerism' if you can believe it. Highly recommend you read the book, it’s a whole other trip! But kudos to Ridley Scott for creating a masterpiece that’s unique even though its very different than its source material. This is a remarkable science fiction film, addressing one of the oldest questions that has haunted humanity: why do we die?