Los Angeles plays itself in the Movies: Blade Runner

April 14, 2010 at 10:21 am in Uncategorized

Future Noir in an Overpopulated City of Angels


Several years ago, when I lived in Hollywood, my apartment was on the fifth floor. It was a twenties era place, very Art Deco.

I had a view of the Hollywood sign, and could see the giant billboard and digital marque of the then-new Hollywood and Highland mall from my window, looming over the neon waitress of Mel’s Diner.

One evening, and I remember this very clearly, the Police Helicopters were particularly loud, invading my room along with the heat and neon though the mini blinds. I was jarred from the Anime program I was watching, giving me a distinctly creepy feeling as I typed messages to a friend half a world away on my computer. It took me a few moments to comprehend what was causing this uneasy feeling, as the flying police vehicle circled its spotlight over my building once again.

It had happened.

I had entered the Dystopian Future. I was living in it.

I was practically a Nexus 6 Model away from living in Blade Runner.

That’s a true story. Freaked me out a little bit. I can’t help but think of Police Helicopters as Flying Cop Cars now, (which they are) and I half expect them to be piloted by a young Edward James Olmos in a futuristic Zoot Suit.

My tendency to have distinctly personal experiences in regard to Philip K Dick aside, this series is focused on Los Angeles playing herself in the movies. Not where she’s a background player, but where she practically has lines.

And she does here. It may not be immediately apparent to many, especially if you haven’t lived here very long. It may be like the first time I saw “Batman Begins” and said, “Holy Crap! Is that Gary Oldman?!?” But that’s L.A. It’s very L.A.

Obviously it says in giant letters at the start of the film, “Los Angeles, 2019,” and there’s amazing shots of L.A. architecture and downtown landmarks. I could simply rattle them off and consider this post handled. No one would blame me, and it’d be entirely valid. L.A. is well represented in the film in that way alone.

(Speaking of which, anyone want to meet me downtown and check out the Bradbury Building? I’m not even kidding. I’m thinking of going next week, and if anyone wants to join me lemme know in the comments and I’ll put a little meetup and outing type thing together.)

But it’s more than all that. L.A. shows herself in more ways than that in this movie, to me. Not the beach, and shopping at the grove, and all of that, but more like eating in Chinatown or wandering into a flea market on Western, or a workday in the Wilshire area of K-Town, Marty and Elaine at the Dresden. And the rain. L.A. in the rain. The L.A. you don’t see until you’ve been here awhile. It’s the L.A. you sometimes glimpse in Noir movies, sure, but with the overpopulation crush oh-so-popular in distopian future sci-fi added in to amazing effect.

No matter how overpopulated or how many skyscrapers blot out the sky, L.A. will still be L.A., not some other city. She shows us this in her performance here.

All serving to tell a story about “fake people” who are in reality as human as anyone. More Human than Human, in fact. Where else could that story be told?

This post is part of the L.A. Plays Itself in the Movies series. For a listing of posts in this series, click here.

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