Blade Runner 2049 was a vision of what the science fiction classic could be in a modern era. Built on the back of the revolutionary Blade Runner film, there may not be a more influential film in how we think of dystopian futures. (Similar to our own. To say Blade Runner is prophetic is a scary thought, but one that holds weight and truth.) It’s a big reason why I wanted to dive back into director Denis Villeneuve’s sequel another time with Titan Books’ Blade Runner 2049 – Interlinked – The Art. This is a sister art book to The Art and Soul of Blade Runner 2049, adding to the experience through the eyes of the artists who helped build this world.
The beauty of this book resides in the voices of the film artists who comment on nearly every page, giving us insights into the process, their approach, and their original goals when creating this world. Save for a short drought of commentary later on, this book is dense with detail about the production. There are notes here about what it was like to work with Villeneuve, including details on scenes that were cut, and interesting tidbits like how the entire design started with one word: “brutality”. The art ranges from early concepts to final designs, and includes some of the inspiration that led to the final product. It feels robust in its look at the production.
The art itself is quite cool. Sketches, paintings, 3D renderings, and Photoshopped imagery mixing reality with fabrication make up the art in the book. The book is organized by chapters that start with Spinners, go on to Blasters, then Los Angeles, Leaving the City, Las Vegas, LAPD, Unrealized Locations, Sea Wall, and finally the Memory Lab. It generally flows well, giving you progress shots of the art as it was seen in the film. The Spinners are the flying vehicles in the world, which I’m glad got their own chapter as they are so iconic and cool looking. There are neat details learned in this book, like how a vehicle made to be like a futuristic van ended up being a vehicle used in the Trash Mesa. The wide range of weapons is impressive; usually, you only see a glimpse of most of these, so it’s incredible to see how much thought went into what each drawing meant to the bigger story.
That’s where this book truly shines. If you had any doubts about what Blade Runner 2049 is about, this book will answer it. The artist accounts do well to capture what Villeneuve was going for, what the themes are, and what the mood was meant to convey. This is a future where things are far worse than the original film due to global warming. To see it caked with the grit and grime of humans barely hanging on is haunting, to say the least.
This book is an incredible work, with plenty of details from the artists who crafted every image in this book. It’s also quite thorough, covering every vehicle, location, blaster, and gadgetry in the film. Blade Runner 2049 is one of the most important modern science fiction works of our time and this book is a worthy exploration of it.