—every time I come to think to write about I can never seem to do it justice. Just yesterday, I was talking about it again, and it all came flooding back in waves of carefully constructed nostalgia. “—Write about it,” they said, even though there’s something strangely precious about me not wanting to ruin anything more of Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 (2017), and that sits somewhere rather uncomfortably between private shame and arrant stupefaction. I was so very, very wrong, and so very, very happy, to be so very, very wrong.
I feel in a lot of ways I should apologise. I have never felt that way about a film before. Probably because I have never seen a sequel that had half the self-reflexive balls as this. To acknowledge, let alone interrogate, itself as a sequel, as well as examine the somewhat self-righteous relationship between the same nostalgia that reveres Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982), but won’t entertain the notion of another. That. That’s something else. That’s a horse of a different colour.
And, honestly, what’s there to be precious about, really? The whole Blade Runner phenomenon is, was, and always will be, a syzygy of genius, a lovechild of luck, a missappreciated Moses of a movie, that attracts an untidy cult of philistinism. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, author Philip K. Dick’s befittingly pulpy fucking epitaph for the whole of the human race, is just as unapproachable. An identity crisis about a morose (and married) Deckard trying to Run enough credits together to get a really real sheep. There’s also a monologue in there about “kipple” that I’ll never forget; or the day I finished reading that book, which, in the words of my father, truly, truly did feel “—like saying goodbye to an old friend.”
That they ever managed to—quote—adapt—unquote—Electric Sheep? into Blade Runner isn’t a mystery. Dick had some hand in it, but one ultimately gave birth to the other. That’s the true marvel of Blade Runner, and now, Blade Runner 2049. It almost goes without saying that a lot of reboots and remakes disgrace themselves and disrespect their own material for a quick buck, but this isn’t one of those.
Blade Runner 2049 knows all of this. It’s almost uncanny, the sub/conscious reception, the opening weekend, the sense of history repeating itself like a practical joke in a geometry of synchronicity. There’s a majesty to all of this the film more than deserves, and without precisely detailing. Having seen it twice, and only hours apart, there are five stand-out moments that, for lack of a better word, convinced me, two of which were unintentional, will never happen again, and I will never forget:
The first, when K (played by Ryan Gosling) is walking through the ruins of a casino, coming up the staircase, suddenly the sound of birdsong coming from outside the Palace Theatre on High Street, Westgarth. The second, the soft, subtle sound of a tram bell, while Deckard (reprised by Harrison Ford) recollects the memory of his beloved.