A YouTuber has combined drone footage of San Francisco’s apocalyptically orange real-life landscape from Wednesday with music created for the 2017 movie Blade Runner 2049. And it all fits together almost too perfectly.
The entire west coast of the U.S. is experiencing devastating wildfires this week, with people in California’s Bay Area waking up on Wednesday to an eerie haze of smoke that blocked out the sun. The entire region was awash in orange, creating an atmosphere that appeared so strangely alien even smartphone cameras were trying to colour-correct.
The new video, available on YouTube, is credited to Terry Tsai using drone footage originally shot by a YouTuber called DoctorSbaitso. According to Sbaitso, the drone video was captured using a DJI Mavic Air 2 around 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday.
And while Sbaitso compared the scenes to Mars, Chernobyl, and even Blade Runner, it wasn’t until another YouTuber added the Blade Runner sequel’s music, composed by Hans Zimmer (The Dark Knight, Interstellar, Inception), that it finally felt right.
When Blade Runner 2049 came out in 2017 it seemed like a highly-stylised and exaggerated peek at the future, paying homage to the original Blade Runner film of 1982 in just the right ways. You had humanoid robots, a hunt for rogue androids, and questions about what it means to be human. But whereas the original film was dark and wet, the sequel was much more sunburnt and appropriately dry — a reminder of what climate change was already doing to our world in the 2010s.
A quick look at the trailer for Blade Runner 2049 — or some of the many comparisons on social media yesterday — give you an idea of just how appropriate it is to compare the Bay Area’s orange skies to the film.
It is LITERALLY Blade Runner 2049 in California right now. pic.twitter.com/FAggbTQeNB
— Kevin L. Lee (@Klee_FilmReview) September 9, 2020
If 2020 is any indication, all of those sci-fi predictions for the middle of the 21st century are probably too conservative in some ways and too techno-utopian in others. Climate change is already doing more damage than many people expected, and we’ve been waiting on flying cars for literally a century. Flying cars are always just two years away, somehow.
The world is upside down right now for so many reasons. We’re dealing with not only climate change, but the global rise of fascism, and a pandemic that has killed over 190,000 Americans and infected over 6.3 million people in the U.S. alone. It all feels surreal when you’re living through history.
Sorry but I feel like I’m going insane. A bright glowing advertisement truck went by my street in Oakland and it was loudly saying instructions about proper coronavirus hygiene practices. With the orange sky. pic.twitter.com/rJri7ta2aT
— Rebel without applause (@Allief0rnia) September 9, 2020
As one Twitter user pointed out yesterday, accidentally or not, many elements of the Blade Runner series have come true. There’s nothing more Blade Runner than seeing a bright electronic ad through a thick haze of airborne detritus.
Somehow, we’re living through a combination of dystopias that even Hollywood couldn’t plausibly put on screen. A climate crisis during a pandemic during an election when democracy itself hangs in the balance? Sounds too over the top to me.