Reality finally caught up to the futuristic world of 2019 presented in Blade Runner, more than 30 years ago. The film showed a fantastical vision of the future, both enthralling and repulsing. While we are behind on the technology of flying cars, the cyberpunk classic managed to get many things right about our times.
First look at LA of 2019 in Blade Runner seems like a hyperbolic version of our times. Only instead of fires, rain is a constant presence in this world. Not one outdoor scene in the film doesn’t feature some type of rainfall. The sun is basically non-existent and the skies are almost entirely dark, except for one moment when Deckard visits the Tyrell corporations and catches the sun setting.
Divide between the rich and poor
Cyberpunk, the subgenre which was made popular largely thanks to this film, is often described as “high tech, low life”. Blade Runner is a prime example as the class divide portrayed is enormous. There is virtually no middle class and people either live in the dirty, overcrowded streets of the city or lead God-like lives at the very top.
Corporations hold unlimited power
When talking about living God-like, you have to mention the seemingly all-powerful Tyrell Corporation and its leader Dr. Eldon Tyrell, living in the pyramid. Throughout Blade Runner, he gives the police orders to get rid of rogue Replicants, which were his creation in the first place. The police, and Deckard with it, work under his instructions. No form of government is ever mentioned in the film and it seems that organs such as garbage men and police officers are not state-funded. When looking at present-day Silicon Valley, it is uncomfortable to see with what ease we can draw parallels between the Tyrell Corp. and tech giants like Google or Facebook.
Early on in the film, Roy Batty visits a workshop making eyes for replicants. While we may not be on a level where a synthetic eye is indistinguishable from the real one, advancements in bionics have been impressive. We possess the technology to make functional limbs, as well as replacements of a few internal structures, like the trachea.
Robotics slowly taking over
Not only in the medical fields or in the lives of millionaires, robots are affecting all of us daily. Your car has one to help you park, another one builds that car and a different one cleans your house in the form of a vacuum. With the rise of Alexa, Siri and other AI assistants, we even started talking to our robotic companions, something lifted straight out of this Blade Runner scene.
Omnipresent large-scale digital advertising.
I mean, just take a look at modern-day Times Square.
Struggle for individual connection
In both versions of 2019, despite the advanced technology, humans can’t seem to find meaningful, long-lasting connections on a personal level. Cities are overcrowded. Physically, the human race has never been closer to each other; emotionally, we couldn’t be further apart. We feel alone despite gaining a way to always stay in touch with our friends through social media. Replicants may not be an exact copy of humans, but in their desire for a meaningful life and connection they really became more human than human.