Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Movies Go to the Movies: Blade Runner

What made Blade Runner such a revolutionary visual feat, and one of the most pardon the pun, replicated films in recent cinema, was that the vision of the future displayed by director Ridley Scott, cinematographer Jordan Cronenweth and the art and production design team not only contained your typical sci-fi future conventions (IE flying cars and artificial intelligence), but accounted for the how the present and past would integrate over time, as well as being cognizant of the impending multiculturalism of our cities. Gone are the antiseptic nearly exclusively interior sets of THX-1138 and Logan's Run, replaced with a film noir dark palette.

Part of this aesthetic includes incorporating classic architecture amid the futuristic developments, including the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Hollyhock House which serves as Deckard's home and Downtown Los Angeles' historic Bradbury Building, home of Replicant designer J.F. Sebastian. Across the street from the Bradbury Building is the Million Dollar Theatre, which you can see in a few shots:

The Million Dollar Theatre was built in 1918 as part of Sid Grauman's chain, and was serving as a live venue for musical performances by 1945. Beginning in the 1970's, as the beautiful downtown Los Angeles theatres were experiencing their last years of full time operation, it catered to the vast Mexican population with Spanish language films and musical performances, which is evident in the marquee during the filming of Blade Runner (the multicultural thread of the film probably lead Scott to leave the marquee as it was). After a recent renovation, the Million Dollar was reopened for speciality showings of classic films (I visited it a few years back as part of the Last Remaining Seats series), and live performances, but has recently lost it's lease and has returned to a dormant state. Hopefully, the future will be kinder to this treasure of a theatre.

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