Blade Runner 2049
I think the Blade Runner series fits quite well in the canon of fiction inspired by Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, even if Philip K. Dick’s mind wandered elsewhere.
Human beings with god complexes creating biological, artificial lives and being horrible parents? Alienated and angry offspring suffering and murdering for their parents’ sins? It was all there when Rutger Hauer’s Roy kissed his creator on the lips.I can be counted as a fan of Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to the transcendent 1983 film. It had the tough task of cueing the original in style and theme while trying to make something original on its own. It did the job.
I watched the film during its theatrical release in the city of San Francisco, in the midst of raging California wildfires. 2049‘s smoggy, polluted and desolate landscapes were perversely beautiful. Walking out into the streets after the movie ended and peering at massive tech company-owned megastructures through a dirty orange haze, while finding it slightly hard to breathe comfortably, was so bizarre. I walked out into the fiction I was viewing – and it could have well killed me.
Amazing score. Terrific performances. Striking cinematography and effects. All worth experiencing.
No secrets about who is or isn’t a flesh android. Ryan Gosling was never an actor I thought much about but what a character he brought to life. K, the titular Blade Runner, has a journey that’s incredibly moving and cathartic. Gosling superbly served the role, always keeping K’s loneliness and vulnerabilities front and center instead of action-hero hogging.
Jared Leto as Niander Wallace gave us a vision of Victor Frankenstein completely stripped of empathy or capacity for regret. He is cold and vicious, and everything about him is ugly, despite his handsome demeanor and the soothingly elegant Egyptian formalism in which he houses himself and his empire of biological constructs, constructs that he abuses and uses at a moment’s whim. Unlike Victor he didn’t abandon his creations, but don’t you wish he had? Who needs an abusive father? At least Dr. Tyrell showed some love and sympathy towards his children. But behind Wallace’s dreams of a star-spanning empire through slavery, there exists an even nastier impulse: toxic womb envy.
As the replicant henchwoman Luv, actress Silvia Hoeks had a tough job but she killed it. She was elegant, fearsome, robotic when she needed to be. But in all the right moments and in the subtlest of ways, she showed you Luv’s rage and sorrow underneath her conditioning to do Wallace’s bidding. And then there’s her fashion style!
I understood what Blade Runner was about thematically, but I’m still trying to unspool 2049. And the biggest difficulties I had doing so were these: does your humanity and sentience really depend on whether you can make viable offspring (isn’t this what Frankenstein’s monster also wanted)? And what about life that is purely 100% electronic, if such a thing exists?
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