In a dark future, on a planet ravaged by war, completely overrun with consumerism and damaged beyond repair, what is still valuable? This is the question that Phillip K. Dick asked in his novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and the same question Ridley Scott asked when he took on the project of filming Blade Runner, the movie based on that text. This paper looks strictly at the director's cut of Blade Runner as though this is the movie Scott intended to make (as he has said).
To say the movie is visually stunning and that it was far ahead of its time is to greatly understate. Scott is known for another groundbreaking Sci-Fi film in Alien. But, here Scott excels in a way that is astounding even now, nineteen years after the film's original release. .
In creating a San Francisco of the year 2019, post nuclear war, Scott built a more complete alternate reality than any other director in the science fiction genre. Everything on the set is believable. Decker's apartment, from the furniture to the glasses he drinks from to the architecture itself, seems perfectly plausible, perhaps even probable. The surrounding city, from the mostly Asian population to the pervasiveness of advertisements and commercialism to the strange Japanese offshoot dialect spoken by many of the inhabitants, makes perfect sense. The city is in a state of constant darkness, presumably due to the effects of nuclear weapons on the environment. But, in addition, it, and the almost constant rain add to the dark and bleak environment of the film.
While constructing this environment, however, Scott does create beauty. The lighting in the film is extraordinary. As Leon and Holden sit opposite one another during the VK test in the opening scene, the lighting is harsh and stunning. The tense mode of the interview is complimented by this lighting. When Deckard performs his VK test on Rachel, the lighting is much softer and more subdued.