Science-fiction movies are pretty goddamn awesome because it goes beyond the restrictions of realism and predicts what can or cannot happen in the future. Netflix’s Black Mirror is likely everyone’s hot favourite now because it’s showing us the deranged situation we’ll be in 15-20 years from now. But what if I say that we are already living in a future that was foreseen by a movie from the 80’s? What if I say that the predictions made in it were pretty accurate and that we need to pull our socks up and start making amends? Yes, I am talking about Blade Runner.
Blade Runner is a 1982 sci-fi film directed by Ridley Scott, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. It is loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The movie is set in a dystopian (Well, not dystopian any more) future Los Angeles of 2019 in which synthetic humans (replicants) are revolting against the people who are building them and using them as slaves. That’s where Ford’s Rick Deckard comes in who’s tasked with hunting down replicants and it is through his eyes we get to see what Scott (And Dick) thinks November 2019 will look like.
Now, while we watch something like Black Mirror and see people witnessing a country’s Prime Minister rape a pig, we automatically think that we won’t go that far. I am sure the people who were watching Blade Runner in 1982 would’ve thought the same thing. However, the sad (Or happy, however you like to see it) reality is that, despite our best efforts, we are kind of living in the November 2019 shown in the movie.
1. Harsh climatic conditions
The entire movie is set in Los Angeles but we get an idea of how bad the climatic conditions are in the rest of the world. It’s raining 24×7 and due to the encroachment of industries into the main city (Because industries = more money), there’s a constant layer of soot, smog, and ashes hovering in the atmosphere. And, without getting too scientific, just take a look at what’s happening in Mumbai and Delhi. While Delhi has little-to-no visibility and its air has been rendered unbreathable, Mumbai is witnessing rains in October. If that’s not an indicator of how badly we have f*cked our environment, I don’t know what is.
2. Overdependence on technology
Blade Runner shows that the people have stopped doing manual labour. There is a device for literally everything. Food’s not being made but being processed. People aren’t even typing and are instead talking into the devices and those devices are automatically taking in the information. Now, tell me, aren’t we doing all of that. Aren’t we constantly trying to minimise our physical effort and then wasting some more time to become healthy because we aren’t getting enough exercise? So, yeah, at the risk of sounding cliche, we are living in the future!
3. A new form of slavery
Blade Runner’s iteration of slavery and misogyny was hard to digest then and for people watching now, it’s still hard to digest. It depicted women (both replicants and humans) being used for nothing but sex by humans and many others being created to replace naturally-born people under the impression that they don’t have a soul. Guess what we are doing? We are creating this new form of slavery through capitalism and replacing people with robots and giving them Artificial Intelligence without thinking about the fact that what will happen the day they realise that they are our slaves. Oh yes, and we’re also making realistic sex robots!
4. In-your-face advertising
Some of the most memorable images from Blade Runner are that of the gigantic video advertisements of Coca-Cola, Atari, and so many other products. And the first time I had seen that, I thought that we are definitely not going to go this far with our obsession over advertising. However, every time I step outside my house and take a ride through the streets, all I see are advertisements. Advertisements of products, TV shows, astrologers, and basically anything that can be purchased with money. So, if you ask me, we have exceeded the level of advertising that production designer Lawrence G. Paull thought we’d be at.
5. Colonising planets
The first time I heard the term ‘off-world planets’ in Blade Runner, I thought that what kind of drugs were they on? Are they really saying that in 2019, humans will be making factories in other planets?! But given how scientists are actually researching ways to move to different planets, instead of uhhh saving the one we are in right now, that prediction doesn’t seem very far-fetched. I am pretty sure that if Elon Musk gets his hands on some more money, he’ll fast-track the whole process and start building stuff on Mars (Because he loves Mars!)
6. Flying cars
This is another prediction by Blade Runner that hasn’t quite come true. We are still stuck in traffic for hours and cribbing about population and whatnot. However, that doesn’t mean we aren’t trying. A few days ago, Porsche and Boeing has teamed up for a flying car research project. So, wait and watch and maybe you’ll be flying in a car in the next few years.
In my opinion, Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 are two of the best movies of all time because it not only has great themes, visuals, performances, score, but also because it is a beautiful cautionary tale about us. Its grand presentation might make viewers ponder about how our world might look like. However, as you dig deeper into it, you’ll realise that it’s more about how we will devolve as a society if we continue to shirk every or any moral boundaries that are set around us. And since we’ve become a lot like the people in Blade Runner, let’s try our best to not become those in Blade Runner 2049.