The future is now with 1982’s ‘Blade Runner’

Darryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer in 1982’s “Blade Runner.” (imdb.com)

NEW ULM — You’re walking through the desert and see a tortoise on its back, but you don’t help it. Why?

Be careful how you answer this question. A wrong response is how replicants are identified and retired in November 2019. At least, this is how it happens in the world of sci-fi noir “Blade Runner.”

The New Ulm Film Society is screening the 1982 film “Blade Runner” as the next installment in the Film Noir Series. The screening starts at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12 at the New Ulm Public Library.

When “Blade Runner” was first released in June of 1982, the film was set nearly four decades to the far off future of November 2019. That means the Film Society’s screening of “Blade Runner” will be among the first times an audience views it in the period it is set.

Most of the future predicted by “Blade Runner” did not come to pass. We do not have flying cars, outer space travel or replicants. That does not make the film any less powerful.

The film, based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” was more of a warning for a possible future than an attempt to predict it.

In the film, Deckard (Harrison Ford) is a retired Blade Runner who is brought out of retirement by his former boss to hunt four violent replicants that are loose on earth.

A Blade Runner is a type of cop specifically charged with hunting down and eliminating human replicants. A replicant is an artificial intelligent animal designed to look like a natural animal. In the alternative version of 2019, it is illegal for human replicants to be on earth because they are viewed as dangerous.

Blade Runner agents are hired to destroy human replicants that immigrate to earth.

Decker does not want to be a Blade Runner anymore. He quit the force because the job made him feel like a killer.

Decker is forced out of retirement through threats. In a world where telling who is human is hard, it is easy for corrupt Blade Runners to kill a human and falsely claim it is a replicant. As Decker searches for the replicants, he begins to empathize with their struggle and even falls for a female replicant named Rachel (Sean Young).

Rachel did not know she was a replicant because she was implanted with the memories of a real human woman.

The film is about what it means to be human and what type of lives we value. The theme was important in 1982, but it might be more important in 2019.

This is a film about a special police force with little to no oversight hunting down illegals. Writer and Director Ridley Scott did not predict the conflict between ICE agents and illegal immigration, but the metaphor still fits.

“Blade Runner” is classified as a science-fiction film, but it fits in the noir category too. Director Ridley Scott created the film with film noir in mind. He included aesthetic references, such as characters dressed in 1940s era clothing and hairstyles to match.

Like the classic noir films, “Blade Runner” centers on crime and morally questionable characters. Is the hero a hero?

Other noir tropes include the classic femme fatal with Young and Daryl Hannah, expressive lighting reflecting off a piece of futuristic technology.

The climate of future L.A. seems to be monsoon and the sun is either rising or setting at all times. Deckard is forced to navigate a corrupt future L.A. and its seedy underworld to complete his mission.

“Blade Runner” is a hybrid film in the genre and theme. It is science-fiction and noir and the characters are struggling to determine where the human ends and technology begins. Are people truly free or are they slaves to a system?

“Blade Runner” poses a lot of questions, but like most noirs, it lets the audience decide the truth.