Blade Runner 2049: It's What You Don't See That Counts
It is the biggest reason I wanted to see it in the theater. It is what I have been waiting for since I was a kid. And I knew, I knew that with today's technology, it had to be worth seeing on the big screen. That is, the environments and cityscapes of course.
I mean, three hours is quite a haul and I had to work the next day and yet I found myself there with my wife, both in the reclining love-seat, waiting with bated breath for what I knew had to be something. Don't get me wrong, I anticipated a great story but I did not go with the mind of one who would follow a narrative, but instead I went as a writer; and a writer of dark fantasy at that. And as the first scenes of the darkened, Los Angeles cityscape came into view sometime into the movie alongside a haunting score that gives a nod to Vangelis' original score, I was immediately put into the same headspace and mood-texture I had experienced watching the original Blade Runner movie for the first time so long ago.
There is this quality to it that few have been able to get right in my opinion. It is a form of solitude that hangs thick even among droves of people. It is an introspective darkness that begs for connection to some bit of light, but not too much; not too much. It is the kind of darkness that exists just beyond the borders of the beam of light that comes from the cell phone of a thoughtful person who is trying to find their clothes in the dark of morning so as not to wake up their sleeping spouse. There is comfort in it, and safety even.
So is the cityscape on that screen, a vast network of shadows and dimly lit surfaces illuminating only the parts of that imagined reality that are front of mind and lead us through storyline. But in those shadows is everything and nothing, like some sort of Schrödinger's void. In those shadows is the waiting flux of the unconscious mind that shows each of us our own piece of the human condition and beyond into what we know we'll see if we'd dare look. In those shadows is what the world is made of and what it has been through. We, as the observer, create it.
But it wasn't just the cityscapes. Everything about this movie followed that lead. As a writer, I could not have been more edified by the visual impact of this film. The lingering mood is just what I needed in order to confidently write about a city in my imagined world. And while the Blade Runner movies are science fiction, the mood it invokes is definitely a boon to writing dark fantasy of any kind. I would highly recommend it for that very reason.