10. The soundtrack
While I’ve talked quite a bit about the visual look of the film and its writing, there’s no missing the soundtrack to Blade Runner. Composed by Vangelis, a Greek composer who won the Academy Award for the score to Chariots of Fire, it is a nearly perfect addition to the film. It’s also well-regarded as an important landmark in electronic music and even the “pinnacle of synthesizer soundtracks”.
Like the lush, menacing visuals of the film, the soundtrack is dark and full of sweeping melodies. Just look at the opening moments of the film, when you’re first introduced to the cityscape of future Los Angeles via a strange and beautiful series of chords.
Unlike many other composers, Vangelis declined to use traditional instruments. Instead, most of the soundtrack was created using a Yamaha CS-80 and Roland VP-330. It fits very well with the high-tech, artificially-illuminated landscape of the film. After all, when your story focuses on replicants and technology, a synthetic score is a natural fit.
The electronic instruments used on the soundtrack echoed earlier advanced made by science fiction film composers. Forbidden Planet, which premiered in 1956, was one of the first films to feature an entirely electronic soundtrack. Earlier efforts involved strange and beautiful instruments like the theremin (which is played without any physical contact) and the ondes martenot.