Blade Runner: LDN

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So what did you think of Blade Runner 2049? I loved the original but am still not sure about the sequel. To save you from spoilers, I’ve put my thoughts under the photos… 🙂

I love most end of the world type films- you have to go out into the desert for a Mad Max immersion experience but cyberpunk dystopia is definitely the most accessible- you just have to go to London! (Or downtown LA, or Berlin…) Neon signs and dark back streets exist everywhere and though I always noticed the places in London, I hadn’t stopped to film, until now.
cyberpunk london adventurer badass faith roswell

Here are five of the best Blade Runner-esque spots in London:

1) Lloyds Bank (Lime Street)
To do: Stand with your mouth flapping open while watching lifts go up and down.
It’s really cool, especially at dusk and night when the lights get turned on! Right next to it is an old Victorian arcade full of shops and food places- this is worth a look- especially as they look so bizarre together!
lloyds bank london cyberpunk blade runner

2) Southbank Vaults (South Bank) 
To do: Watch whatever show is on at the time, look at the skateboarders in the underground skate park or go on your way to the aquarium or London Eye. There’s a great view across the water too.
london southbank blade runner adventure vaults faith roswell
Photo by Arrow Photography London

3) Gods Own Junkyard (Walthamshow Central)
To do:
Eat ENORMOUS slices of cake, listen to 80s music and get mesmerised by shiny stuff.
To say it’s a neon sign museum does it a disservice- it’s a warehouse full of, yes, neon signs, but also has vintage and retro memorabilia (Biggles books, biker jackets, taxidermy, and a beautiful little shrine with an irreverent statue I am sure I’ve seen in Romeo and Juliet). Follow my instagram to see my video of this place.
There’s a lovely little garden with statues and and a cosy den too!
neon cyberpunk london badass
jesus with guns statue neon london cyberpunk
Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet- am I right?

4) Camden Stables market
To do: Eat everything in sight, look at street art and peoplewatch
Camden is the old goth, punk and cybergoth hangout spot. It’s a had a few -cough- “accidental” fires and is slowly getting ‘redeveloped’ but the stables market is still dark, neon-lit and perfect to spend time in, especially curled up in a food nook drinking hot apple cider. There are so many food barrows and interesting people visiting, and more murals are springing up all the time. Go down side streets as well as the main areas!
camden town london blade runner badass guide
 faith roswell camden london big boots badass women with red hair post apocalyptic cyberpunk
“A tortoise? On its back? Well, let me explain…”
Photo by Engdahl Photography

5) Chinatown and Soho
To do: Try new things!
They’re technically separate areas of London but I’ve put the two together as they are right next to each other. Chinatown is lined with interesting food spots and bubble tea vendors (I’m addicted- ChaBoba is my haunt*) and char sui buns are yummy! Soho is the old sex shop district and still has more seedy back alleys than you could possibly want (so go and buy something… :P) as well as fascinating book stores packed with interesting and specialist books- there’s one whole store dedicated to the history of drag!
chinatown london blade runner cyberpunk
soho london sex shop cyberpunk blade runner neon

What’s your city like? Any cyberpunk haunts? Tell me in the comments!

So… Blade Runner 2049.
I loved it visually. The scene with the bees. The scene where Ryan Gosling was looking at the advert for his robot girlfriend template. The no-sex scene with peach hair and robo-gf. The scene with the bees. The young woman in the plastic bubble. The snow scene echoing the Blade Runner ‘tears in rain’ speech (though nothing comes close to the original for impact). The SCENE with the BEES!!!
There are certain films that I just want to screenshot for my walls. (When I have a house, I’ll do just that. Boats don’t have much wall space.) Blade Runner 2049 is one, Ex Machina is another. I mention that film because firstly I think it’s one of the best films of the past few years and secondly because it is so similar to Blade Runner (original)- both ask what makes us human and question whether a robot can achieve humanity. Rachel doesn’t know she’s synthetic, Ava does. Rachel doesn’t get the chance to prove her potential or endear herself to the audience, Ava does- she’s capable of some of the less attractive traits of humanity but you care about her, unlike the merely symbolic Rachel- or any of the main characters from Blade Runner 2049.

I’d love to get Peach, Robo and Bubbles into a bar and hear them talk:
What’s it like to not have a body, Robo? You appear to be designed as an emotional companion rather than a physical one- do you feel that makes you more human? Are you programmed to fall in love? How do you understand love?
Peach, is prostitution your main job? Do you offer a girlfriend type connection and if so, how do you see the ‘robo-gf’ as a business model compared to your own? Is this how you are programmed or do you get a degree of free will?
Weren’t you offered a ‘robo-bf’, Bubbles? Didn’t you want one? Your life must be the polar opposite to Peach; you two should compare notes- did you make any of her memories? Does Robo have memories too? Do all replicants have memories? If so, is a replicant more human than a person with amnesia? How do you define ‘person’?
And so on and so forth…

I’ve given the women above code names as I honestly couldn’t even remember their names despite finding them the most interesting of all the people featured! Ryan Gosling comes across as a lovely person in real life but in films he has the most slappable face in the history of slaps and faces! Normally, I’d expect to give this dubious honour to Jared Leto but surprisingly he didn’t play ‘Jared Leto’ this time! Did you know those contacts made him blind and he had to be led around set while wearing them?

I loved the confrontation he and Deckard had over Rachel, and I was waiting to see if the big question Blade Runner suggested had an answer or not- I liked that they kept things ambiguous (though I still think he’s a replicant too- yes Deckard was aging but what if he was a prototype?) Did you notice he never actually claimed to be the father or acknowledged his humanity?

I have friends who loved it and acknowledge that you need a few viewings to see all of the tiny details, who agreed that yes it’s long but it’s not a ‘Hollywood’ film; it’s an existential question. I agree. But the thing is, I can take you somewhere beautiful or striking and ask you what you think it means to be human, and achieve the connection that is missing from Blade Runner 2049. I’ll watch it again- it’s a beautiful creation but while you can be as existential and visually stunning as you like, without focusing on interesting characters the audience cares about, you are left with an empty, pretty shell. Like Rachel.

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I’ve started a YouTube channel where I’ll be posting weekly (I hope) videos- you can get a better look at some of these places, behind the scenes, extra news and Q+A sessions. It’s here is you want to subscribe (and I hope you will).

* I can give it up any time I want… 😛
Skull ring by Forage Designs

alternative girl drinking bubble tea in london

Comments 4

  1. Emily

    How cool! I haven’t seen the movie yet, but now I want to. and don’t worry, I didn’t read the spoilers part haha. I’ll come back to that!

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  2. Lien

    I love to look for the settings of movies when I visit a new city. I was in London not so long ago but I didn’t realize Blade runner was filmed there :O

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      Faith

      Heya!
      Sadly it wasn’t. 🙁 The first film was shot in LA and 2049 was shot all over the place (but in Hungary for a lot of the time- which I didn’t know). London’s hosted a few films though. Bond, Snatch, Harry Potter and the latest Mummy films off the top of my head. 🙂

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