2019 is the year of Blade Runner. At least… this is the year it was set in. So, if you know the film, get ready for non-stop rain and flying cars. It’s a visionary film, which some say has influenced many a sci fi film that has followed. No one took much notice of it on its first release, which is often the case with visionary things that are ahead of their time. But now it’s reckoned to be a classic, and replicant Roy Batty’s final monologue is considered one of the great improvised speeches of moviedom.
This film is a dark visionary tale. Cop Deckard chases androids through a future littered with violence, wet weather, crime, mistrust and isolation. It’s not a happy picture. Not at all. We can sometimes become pessimistic about what lies ahead, especially as we grow older and experience more difficulties; as we start to feel a little more nervous and vulnerable about life. The Bible is full of visionary tales too, whether it’s Noah seeing rain before a drop has fallen, or Joseph imagining himself to be a superpower ruler, or Isaiah startlingly seeing the coming Messiah as a slaughtered, wrong-righting, world-saving servant.
But Isaiah saw something else too. He comes along in chapter 65 of his hopeful epic, refusing to believe it will all end in smoke and cynicism. Have a look at verses 17-25. He imagined a time when wild animals would blissfully chill together, when raiders would no longer terrify and oppress, children would grow up to have long, happy, healthy lives and adults would live to be – shock horror – as old as 100! To Isaiah, living in the times he did, this must have seemed like paradise indeed. John took this vison and enlarged it. Made it endless. No sell-by date. Days were coming when tears would be forever banished, death would find itself annihilated, and pain would be a very distant memory, no more than a tiny dot on the horizon. These old burdens would be no more. There would be a new day, and it would look nothing like the days of Blade Runner. Perhaps this is the heart of hope. To trust that, in spite of the headlines and the gossip, the rumours and the worries, a day is coming when all of this will be gone forever. And compassion and laughter and peace will rule the day. And there won’t be any night, so for those of us afraid of the dark, that will be sorted too. A renewed earth. A kingdom come. Not an escapist vision for somehow avoiding the realities of this life, but a reason to keep going in this world, to get up in the morning, to believe, to laugh, to smile, to care, to notice, to help. In the smallest of ways.