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Not Cycling, but Cinema – Blade Runner and The Wild Bunch

Submitted by on August 19, 2011 – 10:48 pm11 Comments

Nothing to do with cycling but it’s still pretty cool. I hardly ever pay attention to movies that are being made these days but two recent major announcements in the world of cinema caught my attention.

Blade Runner

Ridley Scott will return to direct the next Blade Runner installment. Blade Runner was an anti-utopian tale set in a dark and moody LA in the year 2019 where engineered, organic, humanoid robots called “replicants” were manufactured by evil corporations to do work that humans loathed.  Replicants go bad and must be “retired” by “Blade Runners”, who are usually former cops and act a lot like assassins.

Harrison Ford as Blade Runner, Rick Deckard

The film  starred Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, Daryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer.  Based on the Philip K Dick novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”, Blade Runner initially received mixed reviews and marginal box office success.  Years later the film garnered a huge cult following and many critics today consider to be one of the defining examples of neo-noir science fiction.

Without giving too much away, one of the most well known scenes was where the leader of the remaining replicants, Roy Batty (played by Rutger Hauer), experiences what might be described as an epiphany of sorts, and delivered a monolog that more Blade Runner geeks than would care to admit have probably memorized by heart:

“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 Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain…Time to die.”

Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty

Rumor has the next Blade Runner installment will be a prequell and not a sequel, which is fine by me.  The film is planned for a 2013 release.

The Wild Bunch

If you like that news you’ll probably love this – Tony Scott, Ridley’s brother, will be directing a remake of the 1969 Sam Peckinpah film The Wild Bunch.  This was another movie that initially saw marginal box office success and very little critical acclaim.  Years later The Wild Bunch would be considered a classic western tale of greed, betrayal, redemption, honor and sacrifice.  I’ve probably watched it 20 times and all you have to do is ask and I’ll watch it again with you.

The story is set in South Texas in the year 1913 where an outlaw gang is caught in between the old and new worlds, as the leader Pike Bishop, played by William Holden, tells his men, “We’ve got to start thinking beyond our guns. Those days are closing fast“.

The opening scene shows a group of children gleefully throwing scorpions onto an ant bed and then layering that with hay that they set on fire, which foreshadows the violence and cruelty to come.

Starring William Holden, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Ryan, Edmond O’Brien, Warren Oates, Jaime Sánchez, and Ben Johnson.  With a cast like that it’s pretty much what you would expect – testosterone to spare.

Sam Peckinpah and William Holden on the set of The Wild Bunch

Controversial in its day for it’s use of gratuitous violence and bloodshed yet compared to modern films like 300 or even Saving Private Ryan the movie seems almost tame. This was a visually stunning movie back in 1969 and there were many scenes where  Peckinpah purposefully left out dialogue because he felt the visual imagery would be far more compelling and dramatic. The use of slow motion sequences and various camera angles and depth of perception was cutting edge back then. “The walk” is one such example, where the gang walks through a Mexican garrison where they will ultimately confront the Mexican General and his army who holds one of their gang hostage.  As they walk through the garrison the viewer watches the drama unfold from numerous perspectives and ranges which superimposes the suspense and anticipation.

The final scene has been described as an “ballet of violence” and many of the  film techniques that Peckinpah introduced would ultimately serve as a blue print for countless future film makers.

"the walk"

If you liked the The Wild Bunch you’ll enjoy the documentary The Wild Bunch: An Album in Montage. Let’s hope Tony Scott creates a respectable remake.

I haven’t been this excited about upcoming movies in a decade.

-Chris

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Chris started riding a bike again when he noticed the Preston Ridge Trail being constructed across the street from his house. Since then he co-founded Biking in Dallas, has gone through countless Craigslist bike projects (some better than others) and can be found pedaling around town on a Electra Ticino with a camera in tow.

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