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Blade Runner (1982)


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This may or may not be old news to anyone -- indeed, it may or may not have come up in this thread before -- but what the hey. This interview with Ridley Scott includes an amusing anecdote about his first meeting with Harrison Ford:

Scott
did
have a star in mind, though: He had seen "Star Wars" and decided that he wanted his star to be the actor who had played that charming scoundrel Han Solo.

"The reaction of one of the producers was: 'Who the hell is Harrison Ford?' One of the reasons I went for Harrison was the fact that I knew that Steven [spielberg] and George [Lucas] were doing this thing called "Raiders [of the Lost Ark"]. It smelled good to me. I simply called up Harrison's agent and said, 'I want to meet Harrison as soon as possible.' Like two days later we met and he turned up with the stubble and the hat and the leather jacket on because he had been shooting. It was like 10 o'clock at night. So my meeting for 'Blade Runner' was with Indiana Jones."

I also love the bit where Scott says he recently had knee surgery because of "Too much tennis". It seems like tennis is a big thing for him. There are stories about how he went back to playing tennis when the set burned down during the making of Legend. And when we interviewed Scott on the Kingdom of Heaven junket and asked if there had been any religion in his upbringing, he said his parents told him to go to church but he eventually skipped it so he could play tennis instead. Tennis, tennis, tennis.

Hmmm. Has he ever featured tennis in any of his movies, I wonder?

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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  • 9 months later...

I watched this again recently based on its general critical favor, the strength of critics and film fandom praise from all the years, and simply that a lot of folks around here either love or highly respect it. I thought for certain that with a little more film knowledge packed in me, a few years gone by, a whole lot more understanding of different genres of film (old and new) that I'd do a 180 on this one. I even thought that through the opening scenes in the film, especially in the first scene where Leo shoots the man from the company. Great scene. It actually reminded me of the opening scene in The Social Network, except that there are only emotional bullets there.

Sadly, I'm not doing a 180, though I do think I understand it a little better. I get that it is a postmodern "tech-noir" genre film. I kept thinking of the words of Vincent Leitch in some Film Magaizine I recently read that says (something like), "All contemporary art is borrowed in the postmodern era, knowingly or not, from the immense archive of previous culture." Blade Runner is the perfect film that matches this theory, a genre hybrid that melts together noir, prviate eye film, techno-thriller, cops and robbers, sci-fi, love story, melodrama, spacships, humanity, etc.

So what's the problem, I started to wonder? Why don't I love this film like the rest?

The problem with is that it creates a world that has aged so poorly, which gets a pass from people who saw it first in its day. I didn't. I saw it first, I'm not even sure, perhaps sometime earlier in the last decade. These days, if you want to see it, you look it up and find it on Netflix and find four versions available. Four. All for the same film. So what do you do? [You pick the hat in the middle. Heh.] The theatrical release. But why? Because this is America, and it's on Instant Viewing and you want it now.

Or at least I do.

And what I find is a world that might have been cool in the early 80s, but suffers from the same problem MANY sci-fi films suffer from: bad soundtrack, bad sound in general, bad visuals, and that fact that the future year given is never far enough in the future for the film to make sense twenty or thirty years after it is released. (I never understand why they don't make certain that, like Buck Rogers or something, give yourself a few hundred years to work with and make sure you don't look like a doofus in a few decades. 2001 suffers from this. The Terminator suffers from this. Even the recent Children of Men suffers from this, lots of sci-fi seems to suffer from this. It always takes me right out of a film.)

But even worse, and I hear this isn't on every version, but boy oh boy is it ever present here -- Harrison Ford's acting is nearly as horrid and awful as his narration. And I LIKE this guy! Always have. But sorry. He is awful here, and particularly the voiceovers in the film. Eek.

My theory that, on a general basis, the people who love it actually saw it in 1982 still doesn't hold any water though. When I saw Romancing The Stone, I thought it was the gorilla's musckles. It took me a while to figure out that, while it was fun, it had come from a tradition of films that were much better [Alphaville, anyone?] and as the years went by I learned it was just another film full of jungle adventure fun. And it was fun. But it had to be dropped when I really dug into film history and found it lacking.

So why do all the people that saw this decades ago, cling to it like milk when they should have moved on to meat by now?

I tried. I wanted to do a 180. I'm sorry, but this is a HIGHLY overrated film. That is not to say that I didn't even enjoy parts of it this time, because I did. But wow, the fanaticism that surrounds this thing is confounding.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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So what's the problem, I started to wonder? Why don't I love this film like the rest?

I thought I was the only one!

Well the subtitle on the thread is "Please Defend," which alluded to the Top 100 inclusion a few years ago. While I don't feel the need to hear it defended (it has been defended by numerous critics through the ages), I just felt the need to vent a little frustration.

I'm not always looking to be the dissenting opinion. It just happens that way sometimes. Glad to have a friend in the fray.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Persona wrote:

: And what I find is a world that might have been cool in the early 80s, but suffers from the same problem MANY sci-fi films suffer from: bad soundtrack, bad sound in general, bad visuals, and that fact that the future year given is never far enough in the future for the film to make sense twenty or thirty years after it is released. (I never understand why they don't make certain that, like Buck Rogers or something, give yourself a few hundred years to work with and make sure you don't look like a doofus in a few decades. 2001 suffers from this. The Terminator suffers from this. Even the recent Children of Men suffers from this, lots of sci-fi seems to suffer from this. It always takes me right out of a film.)

Heh. I've always appreciated the fact that RoboCop never specifies when it is set. I mean, it's obviously an '80s movie, what with the hair and the clothes and the styles etc. But it's not SET in the '80s, and the film never really spells out WHEN it is set. So we're not distracted by the question of whether our technology has progressed as quickly or slowly as the film predicted, etc. We're just able to appreciate the film on its own satiric level.

Oh, and I've always found Blade Runner overrated, too. And while I missed the original theatrical run, I did see it on video in the late '80s, a few years BEFORE the so-called "director's cut" came out. I think I've probably seen the film every 5 years or so, just because it's one of those things that gets revived every now and then, but I've never found it all that interesting. And it certainly doesn't help that Ridley Scott's direction -- particularly his efforts to suggest that Harrison Ford's character is a replicant -- are at odds with the actual story.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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And what I find is a world that might have been cool in the early 80s, but suffers from the same problem MANY sci-fi films suffer from: bad soundtrack, bad sound in general, bad visuals, and that fact that the future year given is never far enough in the future for the film to make sense twenty or thirty years after it is released.

I was nodding along with you for the first few paragraphs, thinking to myself, Stef and I are gonna line up on this one. But you and I couldn't be far different here. BLADE RUNNER has an awesome soundtrack and awesome visuals. Both very much have a strong 80s vibe, but an 80s vibe isn't necessarily a bad thing. My problem with BLADE RUNNER is its screenplay, which is a pretty flimsy bit of work.

But even worse, and I hear this isn't on every version, but boy oh boy is it ever present here -- Harrison Ford's acting is nearly as horrid and awful as his narration. And I LIKE this guy! Always have. But sorry. He is awful here, and particularly the voiceovers in the film. Eek.

Wait, Stef, you watched the theatrical version? You should know better than that. The Director's Cut and Final Cut (thankfully) lack the fiendishly terribly voiceovers and tacked-on ending.

But, yeah, even without them, this must be among Ford's most charisma-less performances. Not that he's given much to work with, mind you.

So why do all the people that saw this decades ago, cling to it like milk when they should have moved on to meat by now?

I find that a lot of the BLADE RUNNER fans I know weren't folks who saw it in the 1980s, but who discovered it through the Director's Cut release (which is, incidentally, how I first saw it).

And it certainly doesn't help that Ridley Scott's direction -- particularly his efforts to suggest that Harrison Ford's character is a replicant -- are at odds with the actual story.

The "Deckard as replicant" angle has always bugged me. But I don't see how Scott's direction in other aspects is somehow at odds with the story.

Edited by Ryan H.
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I tried. I wanted to do a 180. I'm sorry, but this is a HIGHLY overrated film. That is not to say that I didn't even enjoy parts of it this time, because I did. But wow, the fanaticism that surrounds this thing is confounding.

What is the difference between something you don't like and something that is highly overrated? Is it possible that one can not like something that is actually appropriately rated by the history of film criticism? I don't like On the Waterfront, Raging Bull, 8 1/2, The Magnificent Ambersons, or anything by Eisenstein. But this doesn't mean that the continual, general critical perception of these films as important is unfounded.

And what I find is a world that might have been cool in the early 80s, but suffers from the same problem MANY sci-fi films suffer from: bad soundtrack, bad sound in general, bad visuals, and that fact that the future year given is never far enough in the future for the film to make sense twenty or thirty years after it is released.

I was nodding along with you for the first few paragraphs, thinking to myself, Stef and I are gonna line up on this one. But you and I couldn't be far different here. BLADE RUNNER has an awesome soundtrack and awesome visuals. Both very much have a strong 80s vibe, but an 80s vibe isn't necessarily a bad thing. My problem with BLADE RUNNER is its screenplay, which is a pretty flimsy bit of work.

Yes, there are parts of this film that are still as beautiful as they were so long ago. It is actually bizarre how well the special effects in this film hold up. It does, however stumble a bit in the scripting, which begins to grate on successive viewings. Wish they would have been more faithful to Dick in the dialogue and initial tone of the story.

But even given that, I know this is Blade Runner, and that Scott chose to tilt the dialogue a certain direction so that it coordinated with the overall near-future exterior of the film. There is a certain visual melodrama to any representation of near future sci-fi, and the dialogue fits into this universe well. The first few pages of this thread talk about what is at stake in this film, which is a certain prophetic perception of humanity, and the hushed seriousness of the film is marked by this intellectual verve.

Edited by M. Leary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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I tried. I wanted to do a 180. I'm sorry, but this is a HIGHLY overrated film. That is not to say that I didn't even enjoy parts of it this time, because I did. But wow, the fanaticism that surrounds this thing is confounding.

What is the difference between something you don't like and something that is highly overrated? Is it possible that one can not like something that is actually appropriately rated by the history of film criticism? I don't like On the Waterfront, Raging Bull, 8 1/2, The Magnificent Ambersons, or anything by Eisenstein. But this doesn't mean that the continual, general critical perception of these films as important is unfounded.

Point taken. Good stuff.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Given that, I think we need to reserve the right to not like stuff. I am trying to think of a sci-fi film that I know you really like, and can't think of one.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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I did like Avatar, although in my head that is fantasy as opposed to sci-fi. I love the first Alien film. There are a couple of timeshifting films that I really like. Primer and Timecrimes, for instance. I do like Gattaca. Is Frankenstein science fiction? That got five stars from me.

I forgot to mention that I thought the last forty minutes of Blade Runner were pretty outstanding purely from a visual level. But it was a chase scene with little more to it. And all that lighting was sheer overkill. And in the version I saw, Harrison Ford launches into more narration at the end, and it is awful.

I would be open to tracking down the cut Ryan mentioned sometime. In fact, I'm cosidering a Philip K Dick marathon this summer after that list someone posted last week.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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I would be open to tracking down the cut Ryan mentioned sometime.

Dude, I'm confused as to how you got ahold of the Theatrical Cut without purchasing one of the DVD megasets. It's the Final Cut that is most widely available at this point.

If you take a look Here, you'll see that the Theatrical Cut is the only one available for Instant Viewing. I don't know what the "Workprint" cut is, but was the one you said I should see the "Final" cut or the "Director's" cut?

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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For what it's worth, Stef, I usually ignore debates over cuts of films, but Blade Runner is one case where I think the director's and final cuts are significantly better than the original theatrical version. I don't know if the differences will change you're overall impression, but seeing the director's cut on the big screen in '93 made me fall in love with a film that I'd previously been lukewarm about. It's also one of those films that benefits greatly from being projected -- or, at least, being seen as large and as loud as possible. I hate the thought of you watching it on a computer monitor.

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I don't know what the "Workprint" cut is, but was the one you said I should see the "Final" cut or the "Director's" cut?

The Final Cut is the most polished version. Go with that.

For what it's worth, Stef, I usually ignore debates over cuts of films, but Blade Runner is one case where I think the director's and final cuts are significantly better than the original theatrical version.

Yeah. I can't stand the theatrical cut.

I don't know if the differences will change you're overall impression, but seeing the director's cut on the big screen in '93 made me fall in love with a film that I'd previously been lukewarm about. It's also one of those films that benefits greatly from being projected -- or, at least, being seen as large and as loud as possible. I hate the thought of you watching it on a computer monitor.

Yeah. BLADE RUNNER is definitely a Big Screen Movie.

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I hate the thought of you watching it on a computer monitor.

No, I did see the theatrical cut on a pretty good little system, not on a computer. Typically if I'm seeing something like Blade Runner or say, The Bourne Identity -- or most mainstream releases -- I make sure to try and see it on whatever I have that is as big as possible. The docs are another thing altogether. I don't typically care whether I see them on an iPod or not (Alamar and Sweetgrass being exceptions to the rule). I can imagine the Final Cut of Blade Runner being exceptional on Blu-ray with a huge 52" flat screen... or, like you said, in the theater.

I gotta admit, I'm looking forward to seeing the Final Cut. Wonder if I'll start to like this film.

Edited by Persona

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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Oh, Darren. I just understood why you thought I saw it on a computer. Netflix Instant Viewing is also available thru the Wii system.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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  • 5 months later...
  • 4 months later...

K. We're getting closer to that 180 I'm trying to do.

Blade Runner on the big screen is a visual marvel. And the sound, in the theater setting, is still deep, from the opening frame. I actually loved the opening credits... Some kind of a deep drum or timpani, with lots of space and tension.

I suppose the film still suffers from the fact that what I keep seeing is the theatrical cut. Harrison Ford's voiceover, and at least SOME, of his acting, are pretty lame.

Maybe this year I'll finally get to the Final Cut and see it on a decent system. All I know is that I'm finding this film intriguing, and I'm thinking that a lot of my beef with it has to do with the voiceover, and whatever I'm NOT seeing that might be found in the Final Cut.

Regardless, well worth it to experience in the theater setting, even if it is the theatrical cut.

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

Filmsweep by Persona. 2013 Film Journal. IlPersona.

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K. We're getting closer to that 180 I'm trying to do.

Blade Runner on the big screen is a visual marvel. And the sound, in the theater setting, is still deep, from the opening frame. I actually loved the opening credits... Some kind of a deep drum or timpani, with lots of space and tension.

I suppose the film still suffers from the fact that what I keep seeing is the theatrical cut. Harrison Ford's voiceover, and at least SOME, of his acting, are pretty lame.

Maybe this year I'll finally get to the Final Cut and see it on a decent system. All I know is that I'm finding this film intriguing, and I'm thinking that a lot of my beef with it has to do with the voiceover, and whatever I'm NOT seeing that might be found in the Final Cut.

Regardless, well worth it to experience in the theater setting, even if it is the theatrical cut.

I, for one, am glad to see that you still give this film its chances. I'm surprised that the this version is still shown, and definitely encourage you to keep an eye out for the Final Cut.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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K. We're getting closer to that 180 I'm trying to do.

Blade Runner on the big screen is a visual marvel. And the sound, in the theater setting, is still deep, from the opening frame. I actually loved the opening credits... Some kind of a deep drum or timpani, with lots of space and tension.

I suppose the film still suffers from the fact that what I keep seeing is the theatrical cut. Harrison Ford's voiceover, and at least SOME, of his acting, are pretty lame.

Maybe this year I'll finally get to the Final Cut and see it on a decent system. All I know is that I'm finding this film intriguing, and I'm thinking that a lot of my beef with it has to do with the voiceover, and whatever I'm NOT seeing that might be found in the Final Cut.

Regardless, well worth it to experience in the theater setting, even if it is the theatrical cut.

Yeah, the first time I saw the film it was the final cut (or the nearly identical Director's Cut that preceded it). I was struck by how silent and meditative the film was. For that reason alone, the idea of the film with voice-over is absurd (although I haven't seen the theatrical cut to confirm my intuition).

@Timzila

"It is the business of fiction to embody mystery through manners, and mystery is a great embarrassment to the modern mind." (Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners).

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  • 7 months later...

I've already pre-ordered this on Amazon (for the very reasonable price of $24 - that includes all the different cuts on blu-ray, plus that really making-of documentary in HD) and can hardly wait.

@Timzila

"It is the business of fiction to embody mystery through manners, and mystery is a great embarrassment to the modern mind." (Flannery O'Connor, Mystery and Manners).

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