Harrison Ford and Sean Young in Blade Runner.
(Photo from the Final Cut version.)
To me, Blade Runner (1982) will always be a perfect movie. I saw
it at the theatre back when it came out, and was transported into a
future world that was not only incredibly bleak, but one that I almost
instinctively believed would happen. It's a classic noir movie in spite
of being sci-fi. It was photographically dark and beautiful. And the
story was top-notch, a true shamus tale for a new era.
It came rather as a disappointment to me, then, that there has been so
much made of what the original version of this movie lacks. And a lot of
that has come from director Ridley Scott himself. Scott felt he had been
pressured (that's the polite term) into making certain changes to the
movie that he didn't want — the voice-over narration and the ending to
the movie, to name just a few things. As such he issued a Director's Cut
version back in 1992. At that time he took out the voice-over narration,
changed the ending, and put a couple of sequences back in that had
formerly been edited out. Finally — supposedly — we had the version
of Blade Runner that Scott really had envisioned.
But not quite. It seems Scott had been a little busy when the Director's
Cut was edited, and there was also some footage from the movie that was
missing at that point that has only recently been found.
Enter Blade Runner: The Final Cut, or what you might call BR 2007.
This edition includes essentially what was seen in the 1992 version,
plus some lost and filled out footage, some special effects tweaks,
and a new surround-sound score. It is being issued packaged with
the original 1982 version, the 1992 version, plus a lot of interviews,
photos, all sorts of crap.
BR 2007, then, is the version Scott really wanted all along.
It is the version he wanted, right? At least until 2017? By then I suppose
we'll have yet one more version on 20 DVDs and including edited-out shots
of Sean Young's ankles and an interview with a caterer informing us about
what Scott had for lunch during each day of the filming.
Call me a heretic, and you can talk about the auteur theory of film-
making and all of that, but I think that the studio was right in pushing
the film the direction that they did. Ridley Scott may consider the movie
"his" movie — but it was Phillip K. Dick's story in the first place, and
as such Blade Runner isn't Scott's movie in the same way as (for example)
Breathless was Jean-Luc Godard's movie.
I never had any problem whatsoever with the voice-over narration that
Scott apparently detested. To me, the voice-over seems like the text of
an old, first-person narrative private-eye story or novel. And I never
had any problem with the "absurdly cheery" ending, either. The ending to
me works just fine. It never had any cheering effect on me at all given
that at the end it isn't known what Rachel's life-span as a Replicant
will be (or even if she actually has one). That doubt kind of eliminated
the traditional happy ending as far as I was concerned.
And as for Harrison Ford being a Replicant himself, I always though it
better that they left that one kind of open for debate. It was part of
the style of the movie that there was some mystery left at the end of
the mystery. After all, couldn't we all be Replicants, sitting in our
chairs at the movie theater, eating our popcorn, watching the latest
private detective movie (or sci-fi movie) up on the screen?
Well, I'm not so much of a Replicant that I will be going out and buying
BR 2007. Not when I can get the original — and perfect — version at a
pawn shop for six bucks. In fact the only way I would go out and buy a
new release of Blade Runner is if they really did put out one that included
out-takes of Sean Young's ankles. Now that, that one might be kinda