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Opening Arguments

At the movies

Happy 25th to "Blade Runner," one of the best science fiction movies ever. Sometimes you like a movie and you don't know enough to say why, except that the special effects were outrageously good and still hold up. It's nice to have an expert come along and explain it to you:

Watch this opening pan across the Los Angeles skyline --  there's nearly nothing else like it. This is something I think Ridley Scott does better than almost any other director. Whether he's shooting a fantastical movie like Alien (1979), or a realistic one like Black Hawk Down (2001), you always know where you are in the movie's physical space. Blade Runner is unmatched by any other sci-fi film in terms of feeling like you're in an environment you understand. This isn't the kind of sci-fi where everyone wears silver suits.

I love movies, and every time I learn something about what goes into making them, I wish I knew more. I saw an interview with Billy  Wilder the other day, filmed back in the 1980s, in which he explained how you have to pace comedies. He was using a short scene from "Some Like it Hot" to illustrate the point and said that the one page of dialogue had to be shot as if it were three pages (or maybe even five), because you have to leave some space for the audience to laugh so they don't miss the next piece of dialogue. But you can't just have the characters standing around -- you have to have them doing something logical that makes the scene flow without dead spots in case the audience doesn't laugh where you expect it to.

You may now pause to reflect upon the brilliance of this post.

You may now resume reading. Oops, I'm done.

Posted in: Popular culture


Bob G.
Tue, 06/26/2007 - 8:46am

Blade Runner is an often passed over sci-fi movie, and yet as you say, it hits home on so many more levels, special efects not withstanding.

I believe it was Philip K. Dick who wrote the original story (Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sleep?) that the movie is based on.

A marvelous claustrophobic view of a possible future....all that was missing was the downtown ballpark...LOL!

A good read AND a good flick.