The news is good. Blade Runner has been my all-time favourite movie for years, ever since I first saw it in the mid eighties. I watched it again recently and it’s still just as good. And it’s going to get better.
Original Blade Runner Movie poster
Ridley Scott, director of the movie, has put together Blade Runner – The Final Cut, a version of the movie “really as it was intended to be”. It screened at the Venice Film Festival and is due for a DVD release soon (sometime in the Northern Hemisphere winter).
The movie was originally released in 1982 and was soundly slammed by critics. “I was a new kid on the block in Hollywood, so driving to those studios every day was a magical mystery tour. But it was hard, the whole process of making the movie became quite difficult,” Scott told reporters at the Venice film festival.
“I wasn’t used at that point in my career to having too many cooks in the kitchen, and I think there were many people who started to get involved.
“So out of it came a hybrid version of what I’d originally intended. Consequently … we had a bad opening, bad previews, confused previews. I was killed by some critics … then I thought it would be gone away for ever.”
That hybrid version included a studio enforced voice-over from Deckard (Harrison Ford) telling everyone the story as it was about to happen, perhaps in case you needed a quick cup of tea and were going to miss a bit. Scott called the voice over technique “the antithesis of a good movie making process”. They also tacked on a nice, new, shiny happy ending, to save the sensibilities of the dumb. But I lapped it up along with everyone else that could recognise a quality science fiction movie when they saw one. It was still brilliant even with the studio meddling. But the critics were idiots and the reviews harsh, so the film was pulled early from theatres. At the same time, Spielberg’s ET went on to become one of the most successful movies of all time. There ain’t no justice. But Blade Runner soon became a cult classic through TV and home video releases.
The subsequent Director’s Cut, released in 1992, with the voice-over removed and the ending de-happified was a gift from heaven, enormously improving on the original version that the studio had forced Scott to push out. It turned out that Blade Runner was an even better movie than we thought.
And a previously cut dream sequence had been re-inserted that opened a whole new vista of possibilities, adding great depth to the film. Could Deckard be a replicant? There are hours of reading on the internet to help you decide if you want to start searching. Let me warn you now, though – if you go searching for theories about Blade Runner, you may not see sunshine or breathe fresh air for several days. Unless your computer is in the garden. And, if it is, you should really think about wearing rubber shoes. But I digress.
Is he a replicant? Could YOU hold on with one hand like that?
In the Director’s Cut we also learn how the replicants find out about J F Sebastian, in one of the best scenes in the movie. This scene (you know, the one with the eyes) never made it to the original theatre release, proving that studios really should leave Ridley Scott alone and let him do his thing. This scene also includes one of Roy Batty’s best lines – “If only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes.” I’m excited to think about what new snippets might come to light in the The Final Cut.
So look out for the DVD release of the greatest film ever made. Blade Runner – The Final Cut will include updated effects and new extended scenes. We have to trust that Scott hasn’t become a born again Christian and inserted loads of Catholic iconography into the film or anything like that, but here’s hoping that we can trust him. You never know, look what happened to Mad Max. He used to be really cool.