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.


le0pard13 said...

Welcome back, Colonel! We've missed you, man.

Wonderful post on the 'Blade Runner' locations, but it is disconcerting to learn the Million Dollar Theatre has gone dormant once more. I hope it's only temporary.


EFC said...

My parents used to the Million Dollar to catch those Spanish-language flicks, but I somehow managed to never go. Damn. Hope they open up again soon. Until then, I can at least catch a glimpse in that beautifully composed shot by Scott & Cronenweth.

Colonel Mortimer said...

Thanks for the feedback guys. I actually didn't realize that there was a cool UCLA Preservation series going on biweekly as recently as July of this year until I started this article. What a bummer, I am not sure if it was under publicized (it was the first I heard of it, but having a kid in February, I am not able to keep up with the goings on in cinema stuff as much as I'd like to be right now) or it speaks to the difficulty of operating a theatre downtown (attendance was sometimes as low as 50 people...for goddamn Paths of Glory, according to what I read at Cinema Treasures). I hope with the renovations already in place, someone else takes a chance on it.

EFC, that's really cool that your parents went there.

Mummbles said...

It is quite the amazing looking film, I havent seen it for a while and this blog made me want to watch it again. Glad to see you writing again!

Related Posts with Thumbnails