All Time Classics: Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner 1982

Cast: Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Rutgar Hauer

Writers: Hampton Fancher, David Webb Peoples(Screenplay). Phillip K Dick(Novel: “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep)

Director: Ridley Scott.

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The landscape of Los Angeles in 2019 is a very desolate place.  There’s hardly any sunlight, it rains and it’s extremely overcrowed.  However the architecture of the buildings and the fact there is now flying cars and robots made me want to live there.  The future that director Ridley Scott and his team have assembled are both extremely alien and at the same time almost relevant.  We have billboards that feature moving images and we are able to converse with each other over computer screens.  We may not have robots just yet, but artificial intelligent is becoming so vast. The idea of machines that can copy our every move but not our emotions is not that far-fetched.  When released,”Blade Runner” was a box office failure but fans of it claimed that it was ahead of its times.  Now that we are less than 10 years away from its actual date in the story.  We can now see that it’s become a part of our times.    This is by far one of my favorite science fiction films because it presents ideas rather than just entertainment.  For me a good movie is one that I can watch over and over again and discover new things as I watch it .

The story centers around an ex cop named Rick Deckard(Harrison Ford) who is on the hunt for six escaped cyborgs called Replicants.  While on the search he meets one named Rachel(Sean Young) and falls in love.  That is the basic run of the mill description about this movie because as I said before this movie evokes new ideas each time it’s viewed.

blade-runner-cityscape

The replicants in this are the obvious antagonists for our hero.  But they don’t behave like ones you see in other sci-fi movies.  Yes, they do some pretty horrible things but they do them in order to survive.  After all they were only giving a four-year life span, and if I discovered that myself.  I would do whatever it took to find the answers to get more. It’s also refreshing to have the hero of the story have some major flaws about himself as well.  Just like the androids he’s hunting.  Deckard does some pretty bad things himself in order to stay alive.

When I first saw this, it was in 1992 and the Director’s cut has been released on VHS.  I’ve never seen it before, but I kept seeing images of it everywhere.  There was a video game and a cartoon I liked a lot,and I remember my dad saying that it looked a lot like “Blade Runner“.   Being a big fan of the visuals in that and finding out that this was made by Ridley Scott who also did “Alien“.  I was thrilled to watch it.   The visuals were astounding and as I watched the scenes of the spinners moving through the city.  I recall wishing that I could have seen this in theatres.   I have never seen a future that had so many great achievements but still looked somewhat rundown in some sections.  It reminded me of old worn down malls that added contemporary architecture to just one section but not all.  As years go by those “sections” become just as aged as the rest of the building.  As the movie went on I found myself becoming kind of bored with the plot.  Maybe this was due to the fact that I was watching the director’s cut and have not seen any of the other versions(There are five in case you were wondering. I’ll explain those versions later).  It could also be that I was expecting like many others who first viewed this in 1982 to be asci-fi action picture more than a romance/mystery.   That could very well be ,because any scene that had Deckard and Rachel getting close, I tuned out.  The moments when he hunts Zhora(Joanna Cassidy,) Pris( Daryl Hannah), and Roy Batty(Rutger Hauer). I got invigorated again.  I  was not familiar with the other genres this movie was playing homage too.   The style of film noir was very foreign to me at that age.  Now whenever I think of that genre.  I automatically think of that image of Rachel smoking a cigarette when she is being interrogated by Deckard.

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As I grew older I found a used copy of the theatrical version  on VHS and put it in.  I might have been spoiled by having the Director’s cut in letterbox fromat and this version was in Pan and Scan(I’m betting that only a few of you will know about this process or VHS for that matter).    But I did not fully hate the narration and I found in certain scenes  it helped explain Deckard’s motives more.  It soon becomes an over kill in many sections and ruins many moments.  When Roy gives his moving “Tears in The Rain” monologue. I was annoyed afterward by having narration explain to me what was happening.   It was just explained to me not only a minute ago, and now your going to give me this dumbed down reaction.  The happy ending that showed both Rachel and Deckard driving off into a beautiful landscape was very much out-of-place and did not match the tone of the picture.  It literary looked like it came from another movie.  Which is true because the overhead shots of the landscape where outtakes of “The Shining” from its opening credits.

The other versions of “Blade Runner” that have been released are an international cut, a  final cut, and a workprint version.  The International version is the same as the theatrical, except it shows a few more scenes of violence that were originally cut.  The final cut is the same as the director’s cut, but a  few key moments were reshot.  One of those being the iconic section when Zhora is shot by Deckard.  In the theatrical version it’s very clear that it is a stuntman and not Joanna Cassidy.  So for this new version they made it look like it was her the entire time.  The workprint cut features a different opening credits and text that explains the replicants.  The famous Vangelis score is replaced with scores from other movies.  The only use of narration is at the end of Batty’s speech, but I found Deckard’s narration in that to be much better then what was eventually used.

Blade Runner” belongs on this list of all time classics because it inspired a whole new crop of filmmakers and without it.  I don’t think we would have gotten  movies like “Gattaca” or “Paprika“.   Movies that can be a lot of fun, but also make us think about where we are now, and where we will eventually be heading towards.

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About The Vern

I love movies and I enjoy writing about them too. They both go pretty much hand in hand with each other and it's fun to discover new classics. I co host the podcast The Film Pasture and As You Watch. While also contributing reviews and articles to other great sites when I can.
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12 Responses to All Time Classics: Blade Runner (1982)

  1. Pingback: Episode XXV: Blade Runner | The As You Watch Podcast

  2. Thanks for tweeting this! I’m so bad at catching up with people’s earlier posts as I there’s so much new coming out all the time. I’ve never been that much into sci-fi but I’ve heard so much great stuff about Blade Runner that I think I have to see this.

    I also listened to the As You Watch podcast on Blade Runner and you managed to pique my interest to the point that this will be my next dvd purchase.

    Your video vortex seems to be just the blog I need to catch up on my film knowledge. Thank you for that!

  3. My aunt’s husband has the director’s cut so I thought I’d watch it first. I’m not a big fan of watching the same film over and over again in different versions but I’ll surely see all of them if it blows my mind.

    Oh, I forgot to mention you had great choices for the sexiest cyborgs in film!

  4. Pingback: Blade Runner « THAT MOMENT IN

  5. Great review. I liked mine to yours!

  6. Pingback: Poster Picks: Film Versus Marketing with Blade Runner | That Moment In.com

  7. Film Geeky says:

    I completely agree – it (Director’s cut) is a classic. I first saw it in 1996 and was taken in by not only all of the visual settings, but the Vangelis score that adds so much to the effect of the movie. I’ve listened to it as a standalone album a number of times. Many a conversation has been had over the movie with friends over the years about its messages and setting. Very deserving addition to your list.

    • The Vern says:

      Thank you very much for the nice comment. I recently got a chance to see it in theaters. Hopefully a 70mm print will come my way, but that’s just wishful thinking. I do need to re listen to just the soundtrack again. It’s perfect for a lazy relaxing Sunday afternoon.

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