Architecture in the Movies | Blade Runner

Blade Runner was released in 1982. It was directed by Ridley Scott and Produced by Michael Deeley. The movie stars Harrison Ford as Deckard – a Blade Runner also known as replicant hunter. Ford was then riding high off the success of the Star Wars films and just finishing up Raiders of the Lost Ark. Although Blade Runner wasn’t initially a critical success it’s taken on a life of its own as a cult classic. It remains popular for it’s forward-looking visual aesthetics and prophetic cultural parallels. The America of today isn’t quite where Blade Runner has gone, but the point is, we could be. And it’s the architecture that Scott uses as a kind of parallel universe to tell his story. This film is massive by virtue of its cinematography, visual energy, expansive cityscapes, oversized architecture, dramatic visuals and attention to detail.

In Blade Runner Ridley Scott constantly shifts his actors and our focus from humanly scaled places to futuristic views, titanic buildings and places like our world, but not. The aesthetics of the film are at times colorful and bright and yet it’s mostly dark, particularly at the edges. The architecture is a labyrinthine technological maze of advertising, futurist dreamscapes and places similar to our cities and yet more sinister. The buildings of the metropolis are eclectic sometimes familiar and other times the stuff of pure science fiction. We see architecture that is informed by famous buildings of the last century juxtaposed with sculptural form that until recently was only the stuff of science fiction.

The cityscape in blade runner seems somewhat familiar with its neon signs and street side vendors. But the science fiction of the film comes alive with the machines of the sky. Ands it’s the buildings that are designed with these machines in mind that set this movie in its futurist trajectory. But the film also keeps the viewer rooted in a real past. The exterior of Deckard’ skyscraper apartment turns out to be Frank Lloyd Wrights Ennis Brown House in Los Angeles. And the cramped and spaceship like interiors were not only based on the house but the repetitive tiles were molded directly from Wright’s original design. Some other real buildings that we see in an incredibly altered state is Union Station and the Bradbury building, both in downtown Los Angeles as well. And that’s architecture in the Movies – Blade Runner. I’m Doug Patt, we’ll see you next time.


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