PRINT March 2003


1982: Blade Runner

Ridley Scott, Blade Runner, 1982, still from a color film in 35 mm, 117 minutes.

BLADE RUNNER WAS A PRODUCT deeply of its time, but its singularity has sustained our attraction far beyond that moment. Much of the avalanche of commentary the film provoked in the decade of its release is increasingly irrelevant to its status now and longer term. Few viewers today will be preoccupied with how vividly it supposedly maps out the “unmappable” shape of the de-centered city or, now that the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union itself have vanished, how acutely it delineates the contours of late capitalism in the bipolar days of the cold war. Likewise, the movie’s retrospective links to the now hopelessly elastic category of film noir and its anticipations of cyberpunk are no longer essential screens through which to view it. Blade Runner’s fate may be more analogous to the trajectory of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), which has transcended the extravagant surfaces of its

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