Blade Runner: The Theatrical Version


Warner Bros.

Directed by Ridley Scott

Produced by Michael Deeley

Screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples

Based on the novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” by Philip K. Dick

There’s a good reason why BLADE RUNNER is still hailed as a masterpiece of science fiction/neo-noir/detective pulp filmmaking today.  It’s just that good.  This is the movie; along with “Alien” released two years earlier defined the look and feel of science fiction movies for the next thirty years.  BLADE RUNNER is innovative in a lot of ways but most of all in the way it presented the future.  Of course, for us living in 2011 which isn’t so far away from the 2019 depicted in the movie we can get a chuckle at how far off the movie is in predicting where we would be.

But you look at the movie and what pulls you in is how lived in it looks.  This is no sterile “Logan’s Run” future where everything is clean and shiny.  This is a nasty future with dirt, grim, filth, machines that are made to be functional not pretty.  People wear real clothes with wrinkles that need to be washed.  There are billboards everywhere urging you to buy, buy, buy.  The streets are clogged with pedestrians that walk too fast who cuss at cars that honk at pedestrians who walk too slowly.  All the people don’t look pretty. In fact they look bored, worn down, used up, tired.  Kinda like the people you pass everyday on your way to and home from work, right?

Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is enjoying his retirement.  Once an honored member of L.A.’s Blade Runner Squad, he got sick of it and quit.  You see, his job was killing.  Killing Replicants.  Genetically engineered humanoids created by The Tyrell Corporation as slave labor for Earth’s off-world colonies.  The Replicants are stronger, faster and smarter than humans.  In fact, The Tyrell Corporation claims that their new Nexus-6 models are “More Human Than Human”.  And maybe they are.  Six of them prove resourceful enough to make it back to Earth and Los Angeles.  Which is where the Blade Runners comes in.

Deckard is pressed back into service by his old boss Bryant (M. Emmett Walsh) and Bryant’s brown-noser Gaff (Edward James Olmos) to hunt down and retire the Nexus-6 Replicants.  It won’t be easy as they’re the most advanced Replicant models.  And they are determined to get to their creator Tyrell (Joe Turkel) and find a way to extend their four-year life span.  Deckard has to navigate through a minefield of humans and Replicants, all with their own agenda and their own plans to discover the truth of what being human means.  At the end of this tangled road is Rachel (Sean Young) a Replicant who believes is human and puts her trust and love in Deckard.  A man who comes to question his own humanity as the line between Human and Replicant becomes more blurred in his relentless pursuit of his quarry.

I love BLADE RUNNER.  That’s the simplest and best way I can put it.  I saw it during its original theatrical run, loved it then and I still love it now.  Mostly because of the way that it depicts at the future by looking back.

Let me explain: even though BLADE RUNNER is a movie about the future, there are a lot of throwbacks to the past which make the movie look even more futuristic simply because we haven’t seen stuff like this in movies in a long time.  Rachel’s hair styles and clothing, inspired by Joan Crawford’s look of the 1930’s.  Deckard’s clothing and trenchcoat, inspired by private eyes of the 50’s.  The gritty, noir-ish look of the city with its rain-swept streets.   The reto-technology.   The multi-cultural look of the movie which implies that Los Angeles of the future is a Third World culture unto itself.

At the time this movie was made Harrison Ford was #1 at the box office.  And why not?  He was starring in two major movie franchises and he took the BLADE RUNNER job to expand his range.  And I think he pulled it off extremely well.  There’s a real Humphrey Bogart-ish quality to his performance in this one.  The role of Deckard is obviously meant to be a throwback to Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe and it works.  Again, the whole success of this movie lies in the setting and technology reaching to the future while the clothing, attitudes and style of filmmaking reaches to the past.  It an extraordinary melding of past and future that many films have tried to copy but only BLADE RUNNER captured and captured exceedingly well.

Sean Young quickly got a reputation in Hollywood as being exceeding difficult to work which hampered her from getting more work which is really a shame.  She’s astoundingly good in this movie and I again point to her Joan Crawford-influenced make-up, wardrobe and style of acting as to why.  Rutger Hauer steals the movie in terms of acting.  As Roy Batty his final speech has gone down in movie history.  And rightly so.  Few movie characters have died in such a memorable fashion as Roy Batty.  Daryl Hannah, Brion James and Joanna Cassidy all turn in strong performances as Replicants as well as William Sanderson as a genetic designer who considers Replicants his children.

So should you see BLADE RUNNER?  Chances are you already have.  At least one of the several versions available.  There’s a Director’s Cut.  A Final Director’s Cut.  An Ultimate Final Director’s Cut.  An Ultimate Platinum Final Director’s Cut and who knows how many others.  Last I heard there were seven versions available.  My recommendation?  Start with the Theatrical Version so you can see it the way we saw it back in 1982 and then go from there.  But any way you see BLADE RUNNER, by all means see it and enjoy it.

116 minutes

Rated: R

8 thoughts on “Blade Runner: The Theatrical Version

  1. Great review! It’s weird, I’ve been watching all of Ridley Scott’s films lately, and last night pulled this one off the shelf. I have edition with 4 different versions. I am watching all the extra features before deciding which version to watch again. Personally, I like the 1982 theatrical version, with the voice-over narration. Makes it feel more like film noir. If not for the dazzling sets, FX and cinematography, I think this film would look great in black and white. In fact, someone posted the original trailer done is black and white, 1940s style.

  2. Wow, this is an old review lol. Yeah, much has been made about director cuts where they drop the narration, ending changes, etc., etc. But to be honest, while it’s fun to watch those versions for what they are, I’m more a purist: this is what the director/studio finally put out for the world to see (in theory at least), so lets enjoy it the way it 1st came. And sometimes, these directors cuts really don’t improve on the film…in fact, they can detract from it. Look at Apocalypse Now Redux. It was great to see the plantation scenes, and all the other stuff that was cut out…but once you see it, you begin to realize that this is why big studios pay big money for film editors: sure, all that is part of the story, but is it really necessary? I would easily say Redux is not only a completely different film, but it’s somewhat inferior to the original theatrical version.

    1. I agree with you that sometimes too much can be made of Director’s Cuts of movies. I do enjoy “Apocalypse Now Redux” tho. But you’re right, the original theatrical version is the stronger movie. I do enjoy the plantation sequence and the Playboy Bunny sequence but they’re not necessary to the overall movie.

  3. The complaint about the finale of the theatrical cut is that it was “too Hollywood” and that the studio had the final word. But I grew up watching and re-watching this version and always loved how it ends with Deckard driving off with Rachel into the sunset while the Vangelis love theme plays over it. Yeah…totally Hollywood but it always worked for me. Beautiful ending.

  4. I wanted toget into this film so badly that it hurt!
    Phil Dick? Check!
    Harrison Ford? Check!
    Rutgar Hauer? Check!
    Syd Meade? Check!
    Ridley Scott? Check!
    DouglasTrumbull? Check!
    And still, the film leves me cold. I just re watched the “Final Cut” on BD and I didn’t like it any better now than than I did 30+ years ago.

    take care.

  5. Isn’t the whole unicorn dream angle from the Director’s Cut, especially with the tin foil unicorn left at his door, supposed to be proof that he’s just another Rachel? I was on the fence for a while, but now I think he’s definitely a replicant…

  6. This one took a long time to grow on me. Now I love it.

    Although Scott’s answer to the “is Deckard a replicant or not?” left a bad tasted in my mouth as I believe the film works better with a different answer to that question.

    But it’s a great film I re-visit every now and then.

    1. I think the movie works better if it’s left up to the individual as to whether Deckard is a Replicant or not. There’s enough in the movie that either argument is valid.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s