Movie Night – Blade Runner
This week I wanted to go back a few years to talk about a true Science Fiction classic, Blade Runner, from 1982 starring Harrison Ford and directed by Ridley Scott. The film is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick and is a defining movie of the Science Fiction genre that is still relevant almost 30 years after it’s release. It’s also one of my top 5 movies.
Here’s the plot summary from IMDB. “In a cyberpunk vision of the future, man has developed the technology to create replicants, human clones used to serve in the colonies outside Earth but with fixed lifespans. In Los Angeles, 2019, Deckard is a Blade Runner, a cop who specialises in terminating replicants. Originally in retirement, he is forced to re-enter the force when six replicants escape from an offworld colony to Earth.”
Blade Runner takes place in Los Angeles, 2019, a crowded, busy metropolis that seems to only be lit by neon signs and yellow light spilling from the windows of massive skyscrapers. The world that’s presented to us isn’t the squeaky clean vision of the future from 2001 A Space Odyssey, nor is it post apocalyptic. Rather, it’s an amazing mix of bustling, grimy streets and futuristic flying cars. It’s lived in, it feels real. Many of the scenes, and the dryly delivered narration in the theatrical release, lend a film noir feel, like an old Bogart detective film.
Deckard (Ford) is convinced to come out of retirement to track down and retire four replicants who have come back to earth to quite literally meet their maker, Eldon Tyrell the man who designed them. Roy (Rutger Hauer) is the de facto leader of the group and he wants answers from Tyrell. More importantly, he wants Tyrell to extend his four year lifespan.
On it’s surface, Blade Runner is an action cop drama with its fair share of chases, fight scenes and CSI style detective work. The soul of the film, however, is the exploration of what it means to be human. Later versions of the film imply that Deckard himself is a replicant.
Blade Runner has been released in several different versions. There’s the original theatrical release that features a dry, almost monotone narration delivered by Harrison Ford. In 1992, the Director’s Cut was released with the narration removed and with a slightly less upbeat ending. It also added a few scenes that lent credence to the idea that Deckard is a replicant. The most current release is the Ultimate Collector’s Edition. This boxed set contains the theatrical, Director’s Cut and a new Ultimate version. The Final Cut has no narration and has even more deleted scenes added back in and has several other scenes extended. It also gets a slight update to some of the visual effects.
If you haven’t seen Blade Runner, or it’s been a while, add it to your NetFlix queue. Personally, I prefer the theatrical release. Some critics don’t like the narration, but I love it, maybe it’s just the nostalgia speaking. If you’re only going to watch one version, go for the 2007 Final Cut, it comes the closest to Scott’s original vision for the film and digs the deepest into the exploration of humanity. If you have the interest and time, watch the theatrical release and then the Final Cut.
Enjoy the film!