BFI Classics: Blade Runner

Author: Scott Bukatman  

Although far from perfect, Blade Runner continues to be the grandmamma of all 1980s sci-fi films. Bukatman does much to reposition Blade Runner as a film that’s not so much about a fantastical future as it is about the modern city – a place where nature has been pushed out, where seeing is not always believing and where it is possible to feel all alone even while in the middle of a crowd.

To this end, Bukatman comes close to defining a new genre (let’s call it “urban sci-fi”) whose obvious ancestor is Fritz Lang’s mighty Metropolis (1926). Bukatman links Metropolis and Blade Runner together directly – some of Blade Runner’s cityscape is taken directly from the earlier film – and via a family tree that takes in such disparate elements as French graphic novel Metal Hurlant and the ‘factory foundry’ aesthetic of both Moby Dick and Ridley Scott’s own Alien.


There’s also, as you’d hope, a fair chunk dedicated to the issue of what the replicants ‘really’ stand for and a long-overdue reappraisal of Rutger Hauer’s mesmering performance as the doomed Roy Batty. As to the question of Deckard’s own humanity (or not), Bukatman has his own, entirely plausible, theory that will utterly confound those for whom the question is an integral puzzle.

Bukatman has packed an astonishing amount of well-researched, critical analysis and fresh thinking into 86 short pages – and that includes the eye-watering production and technical details. No matter how many times you’ve lip-synched along to Roy’s final words, this wee beauty will make you want to watch Blade Runner again.

 Clare Moody

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