Film Friday: Blade Runner 2049

We go back to the future again and, once more, it looks just a tad on the bleak side – an epically dark and dysfunctional mixture of the shining and technical, sitting snugly alongside the old and crusty.

K is a young LAPD Blade Runner, on the hunt for ‘replicants’ (robots who look human) who are a danger to society. He wanders about the technologically superior, yet emotional vacuous city, arresting or destroying the replicants. On returning home each evening, after another soul-destroying day, he is greeted by his partner Joi. She appears with a beautifully prepared meal for him, which she places carefully on the table – over the meal he has routinely prepared for himself. Because her meal is virtual, and will do nothing to feed his body. In fact everything about her is virtual, she appears when he presses the appropriate button on a remote. However, though her food does nothing for his body, her caring (if programmed) presence does his soul a world of good. She is the one person who shows him care and affection, the one person who is interested in him and his well-being. No matter how different the future appears, some things remain. People still need love and affection, affirmation and kindness. We are wired up in that way. The problem for K is that Joi, the love of his life, is virtual, and can offer him no real physical interaction. They attempt to embrace, but have to work hard to affect some kind of symmetry. And holding hands is nigh on impossible.

Ryan Gosling plays K in this movie and in a previous film, as a fame hungry jazz pianist, he sang the lines, ‘Just one thing everybody wants… in the bars… and the crowded restaurants – it’s love. Yes, all we’re looking for is love from someone else…’ When Jesus was walking around the first century streets of his world, he understood our need for kindness and contact, and often spent time with those shunned by others. And this was never truer than when it came to those suffering with leprosy. No one touched them, no one showed them affection, it was too dangerous. You might catch their illness. But Jesus bucked this trend. Not only did he offer them miraculously healing, he offered them miraculous love, never afraid to touch them and interact with their world. The tax collector Zacchaeus was considered ‘unclean’ because of his work with the enemy, the Romans. Go into his home and you were unclean, sit on his chairs, eat his food, shake his hand – everything about him made you unacceptable. And yet Jesus did all these things. He spotted Zacchaeus’s hungry heart, and nothing would stop him coming close to this rejected man. The son of man came searching for the lonely and unloved…

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