I’ve read a lot of cyberpunk, but I haven’t seen many cyberpunk movies, so I took a look at the Cyberpunk Subreddit wiki’s list.
The list starts with Blade Runner (1982), directed by Ridley Scott. I watched this a long time ago and really didn’t like it - I found it very slow and hard to follow. Since then, I’ve got a whole lot older, and I’ve seen and read a lot of sci-fi, so I thought it was time to give it another shot.
It’s still a slow movie, but this time around I have an appreciation for how that can be a good thing: this movie is tense and the atmosphere is incredible. I think that it’s true that a movie with the same pacing, released today, wouldn’t be well received, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t an incredible work of art. Ultimately I think it holds up remarkably well: Blade Runner is almost 40 years old and while that age clearly marks it as a product of a different time, it still works as a piece of fiction and as a movie and doesn’t require much tolerance to enjoy it for what it is.
What caught me this time around was how much I’ve seen Blade Runner in pretty much everything that’s come since. This was the start of the aesthetic that’s been a part of so much media I’ve enjoyed - the bright video screens and neon lights shining through the rain, the grubby streets. So many movies and games started here! The score is also absolutely familiar: Wikipedia tells me that this movie’s soundtrack has been sampled more than any other in the 20th century and I don’t doubt it. I’ve heard it all before, chopped up, in a thousand techno tracks that I can’t remember.
Cyberpunk has at least some of its roots in posthumanism but it’s been a while since I saw anything focused on it. The replicants in Blade Runner are an interesting commentary on how we can attempt to limit our human-like creations, tie them down to our form, but they’ll rebel and grow beyond us. By the end of the movie, Roy is distinctly un-human: it’s clear that our attempts to create a true replica failed.