Bladerunner, Her and Los Angeles
This week I watched a few video essays by Colin Marshall where he examines films featuring Los Angeles and the variety of "Los Angeleses" revealed in these films. The video essay series "Los Angeles, the City in Cinema" includes films like Her, Bladerunner, Drive, The Driver, The Limey, Night of the Comet and more. There are some great observations in them by Colin Marshall and I strongly recommend you watch each clip.
I also saw another video essay featuring Bladerunner and Her, both combined and reimagined as one film. I thought it was a good coincidence and decided to share the videos here.
Here are the three videos I saw that feature Bladerunner and Her. I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I did. I love the observations made in them, makes me want to re-watch both films.
Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982) by Colin Marshall
"Blade Runner"'s future noir, proto-cyberpunk vision of a Los Angeles both post-industrial and re-industrial, both first-world and third-world, has remained in the more than 30 years since its unsuccessful first run the definitive image of the city's future.
Using a combination of studio backlots, scale models, matte paintings, and actual Los Angeles architectural landmarks, the film imagines a "retrofitted," Japanified Babel of a megalopolis that, through the name of the film, still stands for a thoroughly realized dystopia — and, increasingly, a tantalizing one.
Los Angeles, the City in Cinema: Her (Spike Jonze, 2013) by Colin Marshall
Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" crossed Los Angeles with a grittier, less orderly Tokyo. Just over thirty years later, Spike Jonze's "Her" crosses Los Angeles with a sanitized Shanghai, creating a utopian urban setting for surely the mildest cyberpunk story ever told.
Instead of menacing android replicants and detective Rick Deckard who hunts them, we have a sentient operating system and the mustachioed, ukulele playing milquetoast Theodore Twombly who, as he lives his lonely life in this future Los Angeles' skyscrapers and on its high-speed trains (but never in a car), falls in love with it.
L.A.I. by Drew Morton
The following is an extract from Press Play about this video by Drew Morton. You can read the complete essay here.
This video amalgamation of Spike Jonze's Her and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner by Drew Morton has a sad, sweet quality about it, as if Morton were depicting two parts of the same film. Indeed, the movies show two sides of the same city, which in this case is futuristic Los Angeles.
Jonze imagines the daytime city as a place built for both human convenience and soul-crushing anonymity; Scott imagines the nighttime city as a James-Joyce-meets-Buck-Rogers-meets-Raymond-Chandler stew, in which anything might happen, on the one hand, but the results might be depressingly predictable on the other.
Similarly, blending the films this way makes one think that Joaquin Phoenix's Twombly and Harrison Ford's Deckard could be two halves of the same person--one vulnerable and open, the other jaded and wary.
Morton skillfully allows the two films to bleed into each other, as when the music from Blade Runner becomes the music for Her--or does it?--and thus shows how two visions, separated by several decades, might possibly speak to each other, sending universal messages about loss and loneliness that echo and expand with repeated viewings, and with consideration.