Vangelis Blade Runner Review

Soundtrack. Released 2007.  

BBC Review

Blade Runner is still one of the best soundtracks to one of the best films of all time.

Chris Jones 2007

In 1982, director Ridley Scott released one of the greatest science fiction films of all time: Blade Runner, based on Philip K Dick's dystopian novel of humanoid robots (replicants) and a Chandleresque hero (the 'blade runner' of the title) whose job was to hunt them down and eradicate them. As much as Scott's film relied on its rain-drenched nightscapes and neon-glazed city sprawl to reflect the existential angst of Harrison Ford, it also succeeded due in no small part to the score by the former Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou. Besides his work on the score for Chariots Of Fire, Vangelis' most lauded film work resides here.

For 12 years following the film's release, a dispute between the composer and auteur kept the synth-drenched score off the shelves. Much joy heralded its original release, yet it was incomplete, missing many cues and extras. Now, with Scott's painstaking ten-year overhaul of his 25th anniversary print now complete, we get the whole thing and more.

This 3 cd set is both a delight for fans of the Greek keyboard meister’s work and for anyone who wants a primer on how exactly to make cinematic music evocative, emotive and above all still stand up on its own. Long a feature on many a late night groover’s chill-out playlist, Vangelis' work here resides on just the right side of the line marked 'new age'. The synthesizers at once convey icy alienation and also, strangely, the entire dilemma of a human in a world inhabited by machines with emotions. This is especially true on the fantastic ''Blade Runner Blues'', and on the album’s most famous track, ''Love Theme'', where Harrison Ford and Sean Young overcome the man/machine divide to the strains of a wailing saxophone.

The masterstroke is to include the dialogue that fits each key scene. For instance we get ''Tears In The Rain'' we get Rutger Hauer's finest moment ('Attack ships on fire…' etc) as he slides into non-existence on the roof of a crumbling downtown hotel. And then there's all the stuff we missed out on the first time around. It’s every bit as good.

The only slightly strange note is struck on the somewhat extraneous third disc, where the bearded one gives us 'music inspired by the film'. It’s not that it's bad, it just jars with the completeness of the other two discs. But Blade Runner is still one of the best soundtracks to one of the best films of all time. Vangelis' proto-electronica remains beguiling and essential. It's every bit as important as that new DVD…

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