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Blade Runner

Blade Runner is a 1982 American science fiction film, directed by Ridley Scott. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. The film stars Harrison Ford and features Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmet Walsh, and Daryl Hannah.

The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 in which genetically manufactured beings called replicants – visually indistinguishable from adult humans – are used for dangerous and degrading work on Earth's "off-world colonies". Following a small replicant uprising, replicants become illegal on Earth and specialist police called "blade runners" are trained to hunt down and "retire" (kill) escaped replicants on Earth. The plot focuses on a brutal and cunning group of replicants hiding in Los Angeles and the semi-retired blade runner, Rick Deckard (Ford), who reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment.

Blade Runner initially polarized critics: some were displeased with the pacing, while others enjoyed its thematic complexity. The film performed poorly in North American theaters. Despite the box office failure of the film, it has since become a cult classic. Blade Runner has been hailed for its production design, depicting a "retrofitted" future. The film is credited with prefiguring important concerns of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, such as overpopulation, globalization, climate change and genetic engineering. It remains a leading example of the neo-noir genre. Blade Runner brought author Philip K. Dick to the attention of Hollywood, and several more films have since been based on his work. Ridley Scott regards Blade Runner as "probably" his most complete and personal film. In 1993, Blade Runner was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". In 2007, the American Film Institute named it the 97th greatest American film of all time in the 10th Anniversary edition of its 100 years... 100 Movies list.

Seven versions of the film have been created, for various markets, and as a result of controversial changes made by film executives. A rushed Director's Cut was released in 1992 after a strong response to workprint screenings. This, in conjunction with its popularity as a video rental, made it one of the first films released on DVD, resulting in a basic disc with mediocre video and audio quality. In late 2007 Warner Bros. released in theater and DVD, HD DVD, Blu-ray the 25th anniversary long-awaited digitally remastered definitive Final Cut by Scott.

Production

Interest in adapting Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? developed shortly after its 1968 publication. According to Dick, director Martin Scorsese was interested in filming the novel, but never optioned it. Producer Herb Jaffe optioned it in the early 1970s, but Dick wasn't impressed with the screenplay: "Robert Jaffe, who wrote the screenplay, flew down here to Orange County. I said to him then that it was so bad that I wanted to know if he wanted me to beat him up there at the airport or wait till we got to my apartment." The screenplay by Hampton Fancher was optioned in 1977.

Producer Michael Deeley became interested in Fancher's draft and convinced director Ridley Scott to use it to create his first American film. Scott had previously declined the project, but after leaving the slow production of Dune, wanted a faster-paced project to take his mind off his older brother's recent death. He joined the project on February 21, 1980, and managed to push up the promised financing from Filmways from $13 million to $15 million. Fancher's script focused more on environmental issues and less on issues of humanity and faith, which weighed heavily in the novel. Scott wanted changes. Fancher found a cinema treatment by William S. Burroughs for Alan E. Nourse's novel The Bladerunner (1974), entitled Blade Runner (a movie). Scott liked the name so Deeley obtained the rights to the titles. Eventually he hired David Peoples to rewrite the script, and Fancher left the job on December 21, 1980 over the issue, although he later returned to contribute additional rewrites.

Having invested over $2.5 million in pre-production, as the date of commencement of principal photography neared, Filmways withdrew financial backing. In ten days, Deeley secured $21.5 million in financing through a three way deal between The Ladd Company (through Warner Bros.), the Hong Kong-based producer Sir Run Run Shaw, and Tandem Productions.

Philip K. Dick became concerned that no one had informed him about the film's production, which added to his distrust of Hollywood. After Dick criticized an early version of Hampton Fancher's script in an article written for the Los Angeles Select TV Guide, the studio sent Dick the David Peoples rewrite. Although Dick died shortly before the film's release, he was pleased with the rewritten script, and with a twenty-minute special effects test reel that was screened for him when he was invited to the studio. Dick enthused after the screening to Ridley Scott that the world created for the film looked exactly as he had imagined it. The motion picture was dedicated to Dick.

Blade Runner has numerous and deep similarities to Fritz Lang's Metropolis, including a built up urban environment, in which the wealthy literally live above the workers, dominated by a huge building—the Stadtkrone Tower in Metropolis and the Tyrell Building in Blade Runner. Special effects supervisor David Dryer used stills from Metropolis when lining up Blade Runner's miniature building shots.

Ridley Scott credits Edward Hopper's painting Nighthawks and the French science fiction comic magazine Métal Hurlant (Heavy Metal), to which the artist Moebius contributed, as stylistic mood sources. He also drew on the landscape of "Hong Kong on a very bad day and the industrial landscape of his one-time home in the North East of England. Scott hired as his conceptual artist Syd Mead, who, like Scott, was influenced by Métal Hurlant. Moebius was offered the opportunity to assist in the pre-production of Blade Runner, but he declined so that he could work on René Laloux's animated film Les Maîtres du temps, a decision he later regretted. Lawrence G. Paull (production designer) and David Snyder (art director) realized Scott's and Mead's sketches. Douglas Trumbull and Richard Yuricich supervised the special effects for the film. Principal photography of Blade Runner began on March 9, 1981 and ended four months later.

Casting the film proved troublesome, particularly for the lead role of Deckard. Screenwriter Hampton Fancher envisioned Robert Mitchum as Deckard, and wrote the character's dialogue with Mitchum in mind. Director Ridley Scott and the film's producers "spent months" meeting and discussing the role with Dustin Hoffman, who eventually departed due to differences in vision. Harrison Ford was ultimately chosen due to several factors, including his performance in the Star Wars films, Ford's interest in the story of Blade Runner, and discussions with Steven Spielberg, who was finishing Raiders of the Lost Ark at the time and strongly praised Ford's work in the film. According to production documents, a long list of actors were considered for the role, including, but not limited to, Gene Hackman, Sean Connery, Jack Nicholson, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Pacino, and Burt Reynolds.

Casting the roles of Rachael and Pris also proved troublesome; a lengthy series of screen tests were filmed with numerous actresses auditioning for the roles. Morgan Paull, who played the role of Deckard during the screen tests with actresses auditioning for the role of Rachael, was cast as Deckard's fellow bounty hunter Holden based on his performances in the tests. One role that was not difficult to cast was Roy Batty: Ridley Scott cast Rutger Hauer without having met him, based solely on Hauer's performances in other films Scott had seen. Joe Pantoliano, who later played the role of Cypher in the Blade Runner-inspired The Matrix, was considered for the role of Sebastian.

In 2006 Ridley Scott was asked "Who's the biggest pain in the arse you've ever worked with?" He replied: "It's got to be Harrison…he'll forgive me because now I get on with him. Now he's become charming. But he knows a lot, that's the problem. When we worked together it was my first film up and I was the new kid on the block. But we made a good movie. Ford said of Scott in 2000: "I admire his work. We had a bad patch there, and I’m over it. More recently in 2006, Ford reflected on the production of the film saying: "What I remember more than anything else when I see Blade Runner is not the 50 nights of shooting in the rain, but the voiceover...I was still obliged to work for these clowns that came in writing one bad voiceover after another. Ridley Scott confirmed in the summer 2007 issue of Total Film that Harrison Ford has contributed to the Blade Runner Special Edition DVD, having already done his interviews. "Harrison's fully on board," said Scott.

Plot

Note: There are several versions of Blade Runner.

Advances in genetic technology have allowed scientists to create sophisticated biologically-engineered humanoid beings called "replicants". Following a violent revolt that takes place "off world," replicants are declared illegal on Earth.

In Los Angeles, November 2019, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is called out of retirement when a fellow Blade Runner, Holden (Morgan Paull) is shot administering a Voight-Kampff test to Leon (Brion James), an escaped replicant. A reluctant Deckard is brought to his old boss Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh), who informs him that the recent escape of Nexus-6 replicants is the worst yet. He orders Deckard to eliminate the four replicants, a process referred to as "retirement". Deckard agrees to help after Bryant makes thinly-veiled threats – if Deckard is not a cop, then he is 'little people'.

Bryant briefs Deckard on the replicants: Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), the leader, is a "combat model"; Leon Kowalski (Brion James) is a nuclear fuel loader; Zhora (Joanna Cassidy), an assassin built for martial arts and Pris (Daryl Hannah) a "basic pleasure model". Bryant also explains that the Nexus-6 model has a four-year lifespan as a failsafe to prevent them from developing emotions and desire for independence. Deckard is then teamed with Gaff (Edward James Olmos) and sent to the Tyrell Corporation to ensure that the Voight-Kampff test works on Nexus-6 models. While there, Deckard discovers that Tyrell's (Joe Turkel) young assistant Rachael (Sean Young) is an experimental replicant who believes she is a human; Rachael's consciousness has been enhanced with implanted memories from Tyrell's niece, an accomplishment that Tyrell seems most pleased with.

Deckard and Gaff search Leon's apartment as Roy and Leon enter the eye manufactory of Chew (James Hong); under interrogation, Chew directs them to J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson) as their best chance of meeting Tyrell. Roy's plan to meet his maker is hampered by the urgency created by his limited lifespan; he is already exhibiting symptoms of impending death. Later, Rachael visits Deckard at his apartment to prove her humanity to him but leaves in tears after Deckard coldly tells her that her memories are implants. Meanwhile, Pris meets J.F. Sebastian and he invites her into his apartment in the Bradbury Building where he lives with his manufactured companions. In some versions of the film, Deckard is seen in his apartment daydreaming about a unicorn; he gets back to work and uses a computer scanner to find an image of Zhora in Leon's photos.

Deckard goes to Animoid Row to analyze a scale found in Leon's bathroom, which belonged to a snake made by Abdul Ben Hassan. After a rough interrogation, the snake dealer directs Deckard to a sleazy strip club owned by Taffey Lewis (Hy Pyke), who employs Zhora. After a struggle in Zhora's changing room and a chase through the crowded streets Deckard shoots and "retires" Zhora. Deckard meets with Bryant shortly after and is told to add Rachael to his list of retirements after she has disappeared from the Tyrell Corporation Headquarters. Deckard spots Rachael in the crowd and follows her but is grabbed and beaten nearly to death by Leon. Rachael saves Deckard's life by shooting Leon and they head back to his apartment where they have sex.

Back at Sebastian's apartment Roy arrives, kisses Pris deeply and tells her they are the only ones left. They employ Sebastian's help by explaining their plight in a subtly threatening manner. Roy discovers that the human Sebastian is suffering from a genetic disorder that accelerates his aging, and he sympathizes with Sebastian because of their common fate. Using Sebastian, under the pretext of enticing Tyrell with a chess move for a game Sebastian and Tyrell are playing, Roy gets into Tyrell's penthouse. Roy demands an extension to his lifespan from his maker. Tyrell refuses to help because of limitations of nature that even he can't overcome. Roy then asks absolution of his sins, confessing that he has done "questionable things". Tyrell arrogantly dismisses this, praising Roy's advanced design and his amazing accomplishments. He tells Roy to "revel in his time". Roy kills Tyrell and Sebastian.

Deckard arrives at Sebastian's apartment and is ambushed by Pris. Deckard manages to grab his gun and retires Pris, just as Roy returns. Roy is horrified at her death. Angrily, Roy traps Deckard in the apartment, hunting him through the dilapidated Bradbury Building and eventually forcing him to the roof. The symptoms of Roy's limited lifespan worsen and his right hand begins to cramp, so he jabs a nail through it to regain control. As Deckard attempts to escape Roy, he leaps across to another building but falls short and ends up hanging from a rain-slicked beam. Roy easily vaults the same distance and is left standing above his struggling opponent. As Deckard loses his grip, Roy seizes his arm and hauls him onto the roof, saving Deckard. As Roy's life fades away, he calmly sits and delivers a soliloquy about the experiences of his life:

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain... Time to die."

Roy dies peacefully. Deckard is left reflecting when Gaff, who arrives after the duel, calls from a distance, "It's too bad she won't live; but then again, who does?" A worried Deckard returns to his apartment and is relieved to find Rachael alive. As they leave, Deckard finds an origami unicorn, a calling card left by Gaff. Depending on the version, the film ends with Deckard and Rachael either leaving the apartment block to an uncertain future or driving through an idyllic pastoral landscape.

Cast

With the exception of Harrison Ford, Blade Runner had a significant number of then-unknown actors in its cast. The cast included:

  • Harrison Ford as R. (Rick) Deckard. Coming off some success with Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Ford was looking for a role with dramatic depth. After Steven Spielberg praised Ford, he was hired for Blade Runner. In 1992, Ford revealed, "Blade Runner is not one of my favorite films. I tangled with Ridley. Apart from friction with the director, Ford also disliked the voiceovers: "When we started shooting it had been tacitly agreed that the version of the film that we had agreed upon was the version without voiceover narration. It was a f**king nightmare. I thought that the film had worked without the narration. But now I was stuck re-creating that narration. And I was obliged to do the voiceovers for people that did not represent the director's interests. "I went kicking and screaming to the studio to record it.
  • Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty, the violent yet thoughtful leader of replicants; and was regarded by Philip K. Dick as "the perfect Batty—cold, Aryan, flawless". Of the many films Hauer has done, Blade Runner is his favorite. As he explains:

  • Sean Young as Rachael. Tyrell's assistant with memories that belonged to Tyrell's niece.
  • Edward James Olmos as Gaff. Olmos used his diverse ethnic background, and some in-depth personal research, to help create the fictional "Cityspeak" language his character uses in the film. His initial addresses to Deckard at the noodle bar is partly in Hungarian, and means, "Horse dick! No way. You are the Blade…Blade Runner."
  • Daryl Hannah as Pris. A "military/leisure model."
  • M. Emmet Walsh as Captain Bryant. Walsh lived up to his reputation as a great character actor with the role of a hard-drinking police veteran. Walsh's sleazy and underhanded character represents a further homage to the Film Noir genre.
  • Joe Turkel as Dr. Eldon Tyrell. With a confident penetrating voice and a penchant for self-aggrandizement, this corporate mogul has built an empire on genetically-manipulated humanoid slaves.
  • William Sanderson as J. F. Sebastian, a quiet and lonely genius who provides a compassionate yet compliant portrait of humanity. J.F. is able to sympathize with the replicants' short lifespan because he has progeria; his glands age faster than he does and thus he has a short lifespan. This role led to more varied work for Sanderson.
  • Brion James as Leon Kowalski. Although at first glance a dumb replicant used for muscle, Leon did have an undertone of intuitive intelligence.
  • Joanna Cassidy as Zhora. Cassidy portrays a strong woman who has seen the worst humanity has to offer.
  • Morgan Paull as Holden. The Blade Runner initially assigned to the case, he is shot by Leon while screening new Tyrell employees in an attempt to find the replicants, prompting his replacement with Deckard.
  • James Hong as Hannibal Chew. An elderly Asian geneticist who loves his work, especially synthesizing eyes.
  • Hy Pyke as Taffey Lewis. Pyke conveys Lewis' sleaziness with ease and with one take; something almost unheard-of with Scott's drive for perfection resulting at times in double-digit takes.

Interpretation

Despite appearing to be an action film, Blade Runner has many dramatic, narrative levels, greatly indebted to film noir conventions, such as the femme fatale, protagonist-narration (removed in later versions), dark and shadowy cinematography, and the questionable moral outlook of the hero, extended to include his humanity.

It is a literate science fiction film, thematically enfolding the philosophy of religion and moral implications of human mastery of genetic engineering in the context of classical Greek drama and hubris, and draws on Biblical images, such as Noah's flood, and literary sources, such as Frankenstein. Linguistically, the theme of mortality is subtly reiterated in the chess game between Roy and Tyrell based on the famous Immortal game of 1851, though Scott, himself, said that was coincidental.

Blade Runner delves into the implications of technology on the environment and society by reaching to the past, using literature, religious symbolism, classical dramatic themes, and film noir. This tension, among past, present, and future is seen in the retro-fitted future of Blade Runner, which is high-tech and gleaming in places but elsewhere decayed and old. Interviewing Ridley Scott in 2002, reporter Lynn Barber in The Observer described the film as: "extremely dark, both literally and metaphorically, with an oddly masochistic feel". Director Scott said he "liked the idea of exploring pain" in the wake of his brother's skin cancer death. "When he was ill, I used to go and visit him in London, and that was really traumatic for me."

A perceptively high level of paranoia exists in the cinematic manifestation of corporate power, omnipresent police, probing lights, and in the power over the individual especially represented by genetic programming of replicants. Control over the environment is large scale, hand in hand with the absence of any natural life, and with artificial animals substituting for the extinct originals. This oppressive backdrop clarifies why people are migrating to off-world colonies. The film also makes extensive use of eyes for a variety of themes and manipulated images to call into question reality and our ability to accurately perceive and remember it.

These thematic elements provide an atmosphere of uncertainty for Blade Runner's central theme of examining humanity. In order to discover replicants, an empathy test is used with a number of questions focused on the treatment of animals, thus making it the essential indicator of someone's "humanity". The replicants are juxtaposed with human characters who lack empathy, while the replicants appear to show compassion and concern for one another at the same time as the mass of humanity on the streets is cold and impersonal. The film goes so far as to put in doubt whether Deckard is a replicant and forces the audience to reevaluate what it means to be human. The question of whether Deckard is intended to be a human or a replicant has been an ongoing controversy since the film's release. Both Michael Deeley and Harrison Ford wanted Deckard to be human while Hampton Fancher preferred ambiguity. Ridley Scott has confirmed that in his vision Deckard is a replicant. A unicorn sequence inserted into the Director's Cut and Gaff's parting-gift of an origami unicorn are interpreted by some critics as indicating that Deckard is a replicant, and Gaff knows this because he knows Deckard's thoughts. A unicorn can also be seen briefly during a scene in J. F. Sebastian's home, amongst scattered toys. While this could be an example of something of the Replicant creators appearing in the subconscious of their creations, the interpretation that Deckard is a replicant is challenged by others who prefer to think that the unicorns show that the characters, whether human or replicant, share the same dreams and recognise their affinity, or that the absence of a decisive answer is crucial to the film's main theme. The inherent ambiguity and uncertainty of the film, as well as its textual richness, has permitted viewers to appropriate it to support their own speculations and interpretations.

Soundtrack

The Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis is a dark melodic combination of classic composition and futuristic synthesizers which mirrors the film-noir retro-future envisioned by Ridley Scott. Vangelis, fresh from his Academy Award winning score for Chariots of Fire, composed and performed the music on his synthesizers. He also made use of various chimes and the vocals of collaborator Demis Roussos. Another memorable sound is the haunting tenor sax solo "Love Theme" by UK saxophonist Dick Morrissey, who appeared on many of Vangelis' albums. Ridley Scott also used "Memories of Green" from Vangelis' album See You Later (an orchestral version of which Scott would later use in his film Someone To Watch Over Me).

Along with Vangelis' compositions and ambient textures, the film's sound scape also features a track by the Japanese Ensemble Nipponia ('Ogi No Mato' or 'The Folding Fan as a Target' from the Nonesuch Records release "Traditional Vocal And Instrumental Music") and a track by harpist Gail Laughton ("Harps of the Ancient Temples" from Laurel Records).

Despite being well received by fans and critically acclaimed and nominated in 1983 for a BAFTA and Golden Globe as best original score, and the promise of a soundtrack album from Polydor Records in the end titles of the film, the release of the official soundtrack recording was delayed for over a decade. There are two official releases of the music from Blade Runner. In light of the lack of a release of an album, the New American Orchestra recorded an orchestral adaptation in 1982 which bore little resemblance to the original. Some of the film tracks would in 1989 surface on the compilation Vangelis: Themes, but not until the 1992 release of the Director's Cut version would a substantial amount of the film's score see commercial release.

These delays and poor reproductions led to the production of many bootleg recordings over the years. A bootleg tape surfaced in 1982 at science fiction conventions and became popular given the delay of an official release of the original recordings, and in 1993 "Off World Music, Ltd." created a bootleg CD that would prove more comprehensive than Vangelis' official CD in 1994. A disc from "Gongo Records" features most of the same material, but with slightly better sound quality. In 2003, two other bootlegs surfaced, the "Esper Edition," closely preceded by "Los Angeles: November 2019". The double disc "Esper Edition" combined tracks from the official release, the Gongo boot and the film itself. Finally "2019" provided a single disc compilation almost wholly consisting of ambient sound from the film, padded out with some sounds from the Westwood game Blade Runner.

A set with 3 CDs of Blade Runner-related Vangelis music was released on December 10, 2007. Titled Blade Runner Trilogy, the first CD contains the same tracks as the 1994 official soundtrack release, the 2nd CD contains previously unreleased music from the movie, and the 3rd CD is all newly composed music from Vangelis, inspired by, and in the spirit of the movie.

Reception

Blade Runner was released in 1,290 theaters on June 25, 1982. That date was chosen by producer Alan Ladd, Jr. because his previous highest-grossing films (Star Wars and Alien) had a similar opening date (May 25) in 1977 and 1979, making the date his "lucky day". However, the gross for the opening weekend was a disappointing $6.15 million. A significant factor in the film's rather poor box office performance was that its release coincided with other science fiction film releases, including The Thing, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and, most significantly, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, which dominated box office revenues that summer.

Film critics were polarized as some felt the story had taken a back seat to special effects and that it was not the action/adventure the studio had advertised. Others acclaimed its complexity and predicted it would stand the test of time.

In the United States, a general criticism was its slow pacing that detracts from other strengths; Shiela Benson from the Los Angeles Times went so far as to call it "Blade crawler," while Pat Berman in State and Columbia Record described it as "science fiction pornography". Roger Ebert praised Blade Runner's visuals and recommended it for that reason; however, he found the human story clichéd and a little thin. In 2007, upon release of The Final Cut, Roger Ebert somewhat revised his original opinion of the film and added it to his list of Great Movies.

Blade Runner has won the following awards:

Year Award Category – Recipient(s)
1982 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award Best Cinematography – Jordan Cronenweth
1983 BAFTA Film Award Best Cinematography – Jordan Cronenweth
Best Costume Design – Charles Knode, Michael Kaplan
Best Production Design/Art Direction – Lawrence G. Paull
1983 Hugo Award Best Dramatic Presentation
1983 London Critics Circle Film Awards – Special Achievement Award Lawrence G. Paull, Douglas Trumbull, Syd Mead – For their visual concept (technical prize).

It has been nominated for the following awards:

Current rankings

Current recognitions for Blade Runner include:

  • In 2007, the American Film Institute listed it as the 97th greatest film of all time, making it new to the list, having been left off the 1997 version. In 2008, Blade Runner was voted the sixth best science fiction film ever made as part of the AFI's 10 Top 10.
  • Blade Runner is currently ranked the third best film of all time by The Screen Directory.
  • One of Time's 100 All-Time best movies.
  • British movie magazine Empire voted it the "Best Science Fiction Film Ever" in 2007.
  • In 2002, Blade Runner was voted the 8th greatest film of all time in Channel 4's 100 Greatest Films poll.

Cultural influence

Although it initially was not a success with North American audiences the film was popular internationally and became a cult classic. Blade Runner's dark style and futuristic design have served as a benchmark and its influence can be seen in many subsequent science fiction films, anime and television programs. Blade Runner continues to reflect modern trends and concerns, and an increasing number consider it one of the greatest science fiction films of all time. The film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry in 1993 and is frequently used in university courses. In 2007, it was named the 2nd most visually influential film of all time by the Visual Effects Society.

Blade Runner is one of the most musically sampled films of the 20th century, and inspired the Grammy nominated song More Human Than Human by White Zombie. Blade Runner has influenced adventure games, such as Rise of the Dragon, Snatcher, Beneath a Steel Sky and Flashback: The Quest for Identity, the anime series Bubblegum Crisis, the role-playing game Shadowrun, the first-person shooter Perfect Dark, video game BioShock and the Syndicate games. The look of the film (darkness, neon lights and opacity of vision) is easier to render than complicated backdrops, making it a popular choice for game designers.

Blade Runner has also been the subject of parody, such as the comics Blade Bummer by Crazy comics, and Bad Rubber, which was written and illustrated by Steve Gallacci, and published in the prototype issue (Number 0) of his comic book title Albedo Anthropomorphics. In Bad Rubber, the character based on Rick Deckard is a duck named "Rick Duckard".

Among the folklore that has grown up around the film over the years has been the belief that the film was a curse to the companies whose logos were displayed prominently in some scenes. While they were market leaders at the time, many of them experienced disastrous setbacks over the next decade and hardly exist today. Atari, which dominated the home video game market when the film came out, never recovered from the next year's downturn in the industry, and by the 1990s had ceased to exist as anything more than a brand, a back catalog of games and some legacy computers. The Atari of today is an entirely different firm, using the former company's name. Cuisinart similarly went bankrupt in 1989, though it lives on under new ownership. The Bell System monopoly was broken up that same year, and all of the resulting Regional Bell operating companies have since changed their names and merged with each other or other companies. Pan Am suffered the terrorist bombing/destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 and went bankrupt in 1991, after a decade of mounting losses. The Coca-Cola Company suffered losses during its failed introduction of New Coke in 1985, but soon afterwards regained its market share. Its continued success has made Coca-Cola one of several exceptions to the Blade Runner curse; also appearing in the film are logos for Budweiser, and the electronics company TDK, which continue to thrive in contemporary markets.

Future noir

Before the film's principal photography began, Cinefantastique magazine commissioned Paul M. Sammon to write an article about Blade Runner's production, which became the book Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner (referred to as the "Blade Runner Bible" by many of the film's fans). The book chronicles the evolution of Blade Runner as a film, and focuses on film set-politics, especially the British director's experiences with his first American film crew, of which producer Alan Ladd, Jr. has said:

Moreover, Future Noir has short cast biographies and quotations about their experiences in making Blade Runner, as well as many photographs of the film's production, and preliminary sketches. The cast chapter was deleted from the first edition; it is available online. A second edition of Future Noir was published in 2007.

Documentaries

On the Edge of Blade Runner (2000) On the Edge of Blade Runner (55 minutes) was produced in 2000 by Nobles Gate Ltd. (for Channel 4), was directed by Andrew Abbott and hosted/written by Mark Kermode. Interviews with production staff, including Scott, give details of the creative process and the turmoil during preproduction. Stories from Paul M. Sammon and Hampton Fancher provide insight into Philip K. Dick and the origins of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.

Interwoven are cast interviews (with the notable exceptions of Harrison Ford and Sean Young), which convey some of the difficulties of making the film (including an exacting director and humid, smoggy weather). There is also a tour of some locations, most notably the Bradbury Building and the Warner Bros. backlot that became the LA 2019 streets, which look very different from Scott's dark vision.

The documentary then details the test screenings and the resulting changes (the voice over, the happy ending, and the deleted Holden hospital scene), the special effects, the soundtrack by Vangelis, and the unhappy relationship between the filmmakers and the investors which culminated in Deeley and Scott being fired but still working on the film. The question of whether or not Deckard is a replicant surfaces.Future Shocks (2003) Future Shocks (27 minutes) is a more recent documentary from 2003 by TVOntario (part of their Film 101 series using footage compiled over the years for Saturday Night at the Movies). It includes interviews with executive producer Bud Yorkin, Syd Mead, and the cast, this time with Sean Young, but still without Harrison Ford. There is extensive commentary by science fiction author Robert J. Sawyer and from film critics, as the documentary focuses on the themes, visual impact and influence of the film. Edward James Olmos describes Ford's participation, and personal experiences during filming are related by Young, Walsh, Cassidy and Sanderson. They also relate a story about crew members creating T-shirts that took pot shots at Scott. The different versions of the film are critiqued and the accuracy of its predictions of the future are discussed.Dangerous Days (2007) Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner is an approximately three and a half hour long documentary directed and produced by Charles de Lauzirika for the 2007 Final Cut version of the film. It appears with every edition of The Final Cut on DVD, HD DVD and Blu-ray. (It is a DVD format disc, even in the HD DVD and Blu-ray editions). It was culled from over 80 interviews, including Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos, Jerry Perenchio, Bud Yorkin and Ridley Scott, and also contains several alternate and deleted shots within the context of the documentary itself.

The documentary consists of eight chapters, each covering a portion of the film-making – or in the case of the final chapter, the film's controversial legacy. The chapters and their length:

  • Incept Date – 1980: Screenwriting and Dealmaking – 30:26
  • Blush Response: Assembling the Cast – 22:46
  • A Good Start: Designing the Future – 26:34
  • Eye of the Storm: Production Begins – 28:48
  • Living in Fear: Tension on the Set – 29:23
  • Beyond the Window: Visual effects – 28:49
  • In Need of Magic: Post-Production Problems – 23:05
  • To Hades and Back: Release and Resurrection – 24:12All Our Variant Futures (2007)

All Our Variant Futures: From Workprint to Final Cut (29 minutes), produced by Paul Prischman, appears on Disc 5 of the Blade Runner Ultimate Collector's Edition and provides an overview of the film's multiple versions and their origins, as well as detailing the seven year-long restoration, enhancement and remastering process behind The Final Cut. Included are interviews with director Ridley Scott, restoration producer Charles de Lauzirika, restoration consultant Kurt P. Galvao, restoration VFX supervisor John Scheele and Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner author Paul M. Sammon. Behind-the-scenes footage documenting the restoration – from archival work done in 2001 through the 2007 filming of Joanna Cassidy and Benjamin Ford for The Final Cut's digital fixes – are seen throughout.Additional featurettes (2007) In addition to Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner, a variety of other supplemental featurettes produced and directed by Charles de Lauzirika are included both the 4-disc and 5-disc collector's editions of Blade Runner released by Warner Home Video in 2007:

  • The Electric Dreamer: Remembering Philip K. Dick – 14:22
  • Sacrificial Sheep: The Novel Vs. The Film – 15:07
  • Signs of the Times: Graphic Design – 13:40
  • Fashion Forward: Wardrobe and Styling – 20:40
  • Screen Tests: Rachael and Pris – 8:54
  • The Light That Burns: Remembering Jordan Cronenweth – 19:58
  • Promoting Dystopia: Rendering the Poster Art – 9:35
  • Deck-A-Rep: The True Nature of Rick Deckard – 9:30
  • Nexus Generation: Fans and Filmmakers – 21:49

Versions

Seven different versions of Blade Runner exist:

  1. Original workprint version (1982, 113 minutes) shown to audience test previews in Denver and Dallas in March 1982. It was also seen in 1990 and 1991 in Los Angeles and San Francisco as a Director's Cut without Scott's approval. Negative responses to the test previews led to the modifications resulting in the U.S. theatrical version, while positive response to the showings in 1990 and 1991 pushed the studio to approve work on an official director's cut. It was re-released with 5-disc Ultimate Edition in 2007.
  2. A San Diego Sneak Preview shown only once in May 1982, which was almost identical to the Domestic Cut with three extra scenes.
  3. The U.S. theatrical version (1982, 116 minutes), known as the original version or Domestic Cut, released on VHS in 1983 and laserdisc in 1987.
  4. The International Cut (1982, 117 minutes) also known as the "Criterion Edition" or uncut version, included more violent action scenes than the U.S. theatrical version. Although initially unavailable in the U.S. and distributed in Europe and Asia via theatrical and local Warner Home Video laserdisc releases, it was later released on VHS and Criterion Collection laserdisc in North America, and re-released in 1992 as a "10th Anniversary Edition".
  5. The U.S. broadcast version (1986, 114 minutes), the U.S. theatrical version edited for violence, profanity and nudity by CBS to meet broadcast restrictions.
  6. The Ridley Scott-approved (1992, 116 minutes) Director's Cut; prompted by the unauthorized 1990–1 workprint theatrical release and made available on VHS and laserdisc in 1993, and on DVD in 1997. Significant changes from the theatrical version include: removal of Deckard's voice-over, re-insertion of a unicorn sequence and removal of the studio-imposed happy ending.
  7. Ridley Scott's Final Cut (2007, 117 minutes), or the "25th Anniversary Edition," released by Warner Bros. theatrically on October 5, 2007 and subsequently released on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray in December 2007 (U.K. December 3; U.S. December 18). This is the only version over which Ridley Scott had complete artistic control; the Director's Cut was rushed and he was not directly involved. In conjunction with the Final Cut, extensive documentary and other materials were produced for the home video releases culminating in a five-disc "Ultimate Collector's Edition" release by Charles de Lauzirika.

Novel

See also: Differences between the novel and film
As a result of Fancher's divergence from the novel, numerous re-writes before and throughout shooting the film, and the fact that Ridley Scott never entirely read the novel on which the film was based, the film diverged significantly from its original inspiration. Some of the themes in the novel that were minimized or entirely removed include: fertility/sterility of the population, religion, mass media, Deckard's uncertainty that he is human, and real versus synthetic pets and emotions.

Philip K. Dick refused an offer of $400,000 to write a novelization of the Blade Runner screenplay, saying: "[I was] told the cheapo novelization would have to appeal to the twelve-year-old audience" and "[it] would have probably been disastrous to me artistically." He added, "That insistence on my part of bringing out the original novel and not doing the novelization — they were just furious. They finally recognized that there was a legitimate reason for reissuing the novel, even though it cost them money. It was a victory not just of contractual obligations but of theoretical principles." In the end, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was reprinted as a tie-in with the film poster as a cover and the original title in parenthesis below the Blade Runner title.

The producers of the film arranged for a screening of some special effects rough cuts for Philip K. Dick shortly before he died in early 1982. Despite his well known skepticism of Hollywood in principle, he became quite enthusiastic about the film. He said, "I saw a segment of Douglas Trumbull's special effects for Blade Runner on the KNBC-TV news. I recognized it immediately. It was my own interior world. They caught it perfectly." He also approved of the film's script, saying, "After I finished reading the screenplay, I got the novel out and looked through it. The two reinforce each other, so that someone who started with the novel would enjoy the movie and someone who started with the movie would enjoy the novel."

Spin-offs

Comics

Archie Goodwin scripted the comic book adaptation, A Marvel Comics Super Special: Blade Runner, published September 1982. The Jim Steranko cover leads into a 45-page adaptation illustrated by the team of Al Williamson, Carlos Garzon, Dan Green and Ralph Reese. This adaptation was poorly received and widely ridiculed because of poor writing and misquoted dialogue taken from the film. (This adaptation includes one possible explanation of the title's significance in story context: the narrative line, "Blade runner. You're always movin' on the edge.")

Video games

There are two video games based on the film, one for Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC (1985) by CRL Group PLC based on the music by Vangelis (due to licensing issues), and another action adventure PC game (1997) by Westwood Studios. The Westwood PC game featured new characters and branching storylines based on the Blade Runner world, coupled with voice work from some of the original cast from the film and some recurring locations from the film. The events portrayed in the 1997 game occur not after, but in parallel to those in the film – the player assumes the role of another replicant-hunter working at the same time as Deckard, though of course they never meet, so as to remain consistent with the film.

The PC game featured a non-linear plot, non-player characters that each ran in their own independent AI, and an unusual pseudo-3D engine (which eschewed polygonal solids in favor of voxel elements) that did not require the use of a 3D accelerator card to play the game.

A prototype board game was also created in California (1982) that had game play similar to Scotland Yard.

Television series

Though not an official sequel to Blade Runner, Total Recall 2070 was initially planned as a spin-off of the movie Total Recall but transformed into a hybrid of that movie and Blade Runner. There are many similarities between the 1999 television series Total Recall 2070 and the Blade Runner universe; The series takes place in a dark, crowded, industrial and cosmopolitan setting. David Hume is a senior detective for the Citizens Protection Bureau (CPB) who is partnered with Ian Farve, an Alpha Class android. The series focused on questions such as the nature of humanity and the rights of androids. Total Recall 2070 was based on two works by Phillip K. Dick: "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" (the basis for the film Total Recall), and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the basis for Blade Runner), so many consider the series a sequel to Blade Runner.

Sequels

K.W. Jeter, a friend of Philip K. Dick, has written three official, authorised Blade Runner novels that continue Rick Deckard's story, attempting to resolve many differences between Blade Runner and the source novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?.

Blade Runner co-writer David Peoples wrote Soldier (1998), which is set in the same fictional universe; it features spinners, however it remains an informal sequel, unapproved by the Blade Runner Partnership, who own the Blade Runner universe rights.

Ridley Scott apparently toyed with the idea of a sequel film, which would have been titled Metropolis. However, the project was ultimately shelved due to rights issues. A script was also written for a proposed sequel entitled Blade Runner Down, which would have been based on K. W. Jeter's first Blade Runner sequel novel. At the 2007 Comic-Con, Scott again announced that he is considering a sequel to the film. By September 2008, Eagle Eye co-writer Travis Wright was writing the screenplay. Wright worked with producer Bud Yorke for a few years on the project. His colleague John Glenn, who left the film by 2008, stated the script explores the nature of the off-world colonies as well as what happens to the Tyrell Corporation in the wake of its founder's death.

References

External links

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