BWW Review: BLADE RUNNER LIVE, Royal Albert Hall
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die" might be one of the most well-known speeches in film history, whether you're a Blade Runner fan or not.
Ridley Scott's 1982 science fiction masterpiece was a divisive film upon its initial release, with critics either fiercely defending it or shooting it down for its pace and looks. Since then, it's grown to become a cult classic and trendsetter for filmmakers - even with its multiple circulating versions offering different takes.
Harrison Ford stars as detective Rick Deckard, who wearily accepts a mission to hunt down a group of replicants who've escaped the off-world colonies where they were employed as slaves and have come back to Earth. His assignment complicates further when he starts having feelings for Rachel, one of the synthetic humans who work for their maker. The latest instalment in the Royal Albert Hall's Films in Concert series is definitely another hit.
The Avex Ensemble takes on Vangelis' iconic synthesizer-led score among red neons, adding to Scott's chiaroscuro and curiously assimilating as human elements into the experience. The dark melodies mirror the thematic lines with their use of futuristic sounds incorporated with classical orchestrations that touch the more tender points of the plot.
It was compelling to notice, in such a setting as the Hall, that Vangelis used strings and more traditional instruments to mark the budding love story, while decisively electronic tones drastically take over the rest of the soundtrack. The evening was bewildering as a whole: as the introductory titles began to roll, placing the action in Los Angeles in November 2019, the crowd slowly exploded in applause.
Scott's retrofitted culture might make us smirk on this day, a mere week from the events taking place, but remains a sort of moniker across generations. As scenes of brutal hate and acceptance played while the musicians were accompanying them, the uncertainty of mortal existence and corporate power loomed large in the auditorium.
Now that the rise of AI technologies has becoming a solid subject in our society and the idea of potentially colonising other planets is seeping into our lives, a Blade Runner-esque future doesn't seem too far-fetched. What's certain is that Deckard - whether a human or a replicant depending on who you ask - is still able to feel empathy, and perhaps that's all we need to know.