Vangelis – Blade Runner [Soundtrack]

Blade Runner

There are few films that have left such an impression on me like Blade Runner. One part neo-noir science-fiction adventure, one part deeply felt existential drama; Ridley Scott’s 1982 masterpiece did what any good science fiction film should do: it used an unfamiliar setting to make a relevant commentary on the experience of being a human being. The flashy visuals and moody atmosphere aside, Blade Runner remained a meditation on love, death and uncertainty. It would be unfair to say Vangelis’ score for the film didn’t have something to do with making the film such a memorable experience. To the point where I cannot dissociate Scott’s vision of a perpetually rainy metropolis without thinking of the soundtrack, Vangelis’ fusion of space-age synthesizers with world and new age music is an essential part of the film. Though many scores tend to fare poorly when robbed of their cinematic context, the 1994 release of Vangelis’ score proves that the best soundtracks can still function beautifully on their own.

Blade Runner (the film) might be best described as a fusion of the science fiction and film noir genres. If anything, it’s the noir aspect that influences the film’s mood most overall. Though it may not be set in the 1940′s, all of the central aspects are there: a gruff anti-hero, a femme fatale, and enough rain to drown a fish. Aware of the film’s conscious fusion of cinematic styles, Vangelis’ musical direction on this soundtrack tends to make more sense. Though there is a predominant focus on synthesizers and spacey ambiance, there are timbres here that more closely resemble a tenor saxophone than anything out of the electronic handbook. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it ‘jazz’, but there is indeed a bluesy, jazzy tinge to some of the movements here, particularly the “Main Titles” and the aptly titled “Blade Runner Blues”. To further engage the ‘film noir’ atmosphere, there’s also a real saxophone here, performed by Dick Morrisey. “Wait for Me” finds a perfect fusion of these two aesthetics. It would be an interesting enough mashup of styles to hear on this album alone, but I think it needs the context of the film to really make sense.

Favourites on the album include the heartachingly lonesome-sounding “Memories of Green”, and the urgent climax and title track. There are a few tracks here that include pieces of dialogue from the film, and while I would have often found that to be distracting from the music itself, the pieces of dialogue chosen are some of the most thought provoking in the film. Beyond any doubt, I think it was a great decision to have included Rutger Hauer’s “Tears in Rain” speech for the track of the same name. Music aside, it’s one of the most emotionally devastating and poignant monologues ever recorded on film, and it has a conveys a similar degree of feeling on the album. Some people have expressed doubts whether the brief piece of old-timey vocal jazz “One More Kiss, Dear” really works for the album, and though it certainly stands out stylistically from the rest of the music here, it’s a pleasant departure from the soundtrack’s signature style.

Ultimately, the only way to experience the music as it was intended to be, is to witness it along with the rest of the film. Blade Runner is one of the greatest films ever made, and even if you’re not usually a science-fiction fan, you would be doing yourself no disservice to check it out if you haven’t already. For fellow fans of the film, the soundtrack deserves to be experienced on its own. It still tells the story of Blade Runner, but it does so much more abstractly. On its own, the soundtrack becomes distanced from the science fiction visuals, but the same heartfelt emotions remain. It’s arguably Vangelis’ best work, and it’s one of my favourite film soundtracks ever.


1. Main Titles (3:42)
2. Blush Response (5:47)
3. Wait for Me (5:27)
4. Rachel’s Song (4:46)
5. Love Theme (4:56)
6. One More Kiss, Dear (3:58)
7. Blade Runner Blues (8:53)
8. Memories of Green (5:05)
9. Tales of the Future (4:46)
10. Damask Rose (2:32)
11. Blade Runner (End Titles) (4:40)
12. Tears in Rain (3:00)


* Vangelis – synthesizers, keyboards, composing, arranging, production
* Mary Hopkins – vocals on “Rachel’s Song”
* Don Percival – vocals on “One More Kiss, Dear”
* Demis Roussos – vocals on “Tales of the Future”
* Dick Morrisey – saxophone
* Peter Skellern – lyrics on “One More Kiss, Dear”

Written by Conor Fynes

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