The Previews version of the iconic Sci-Fi classic.
“Replicants” searching for answers find their way to Earth.
Now one man has the job of ensuing they are “retired“.
Deckard (Harrison Ford) is called back to his old job as a Blade Runner by his ex-boss Bryant (M. Emmett Walsh). His job is sounds simple, find and destroy four rogue androids, but these are highly dangerous – combat trained – machines. They are also as human as their manufactures could make them.
The authorities are embarrassed by the Replicants, as they are called, return to Earth as they are only authorised for use Off World.
Deckard hasn’t encountered this series of robots, Nexus 6, so he is sent to Tyrell (Joe Turkell) who built them to find out more. There he meets and analyses Rachel (Sean Young), another Nexus 6 but a more advanced version with no concept that she is a robot and with a past. Implanted memories – dreams and so forth – convince Rachel she cannot be a replicant.
But Deckard decides to use old fashioned detective work to find the four missing replicants. Leon (Brion James), Zhora (Joanna Cassidy), Pris (Daryl Hannah) and their leader, Roy (Rutger Hauer).
A deadly chase ensues where Deckard may learn more about himself than he dared even dream.
Okay, one of my absolute top favourite movies of all time, the first movie I bought on DVD and one I have in some many, many versions and formats.
Obviously the description above generally services for all versions. As will, indeed, the following few paragraphs.
Blade Runner set the tone in the early 80’s for dark Sci Fi. An ambitious adaptation of a Phillip K Dick story “Do androids dream of electric sheep“, the movie boasts excellent special effects, a gripping story arc and wonderful cast.
The story is only loosely adapted from the source material, which I also I recommend to anyone interested in near future Sci-Fi, after all this is set in 2019 – not long now!
Rutger Hauer and Harrison Ford are at their peak in this movie, both extracting everything from their characters, wringing the sponge dry as it were. Probably the highlight of Hauer’s career.
All the cast are well chosen, a personal favourite of mine is J F Sebestian, played by William Sanderson. Of course I love those wonderful toys he builds as his ‘friends’. The idea of a genius that is so naive adds to the charm of the movie. Indeed, I think JF is the only character that comes across as requiring the sympathy of the viewer.
Not that the plight of the Replicants is without its irony, sadness or sorrow.
The setting, gloomy, futuristic and oppressive, is so massively enhanced by some of Vangelis’s best work that the story has to be that much better to prevent the whole thing feeling like a complex, over-long electro-punk music video. Lucky that is the case, aided by the marvellous acting.
A lot of the credit for this movie has to go to the astonishing vision of the director, Ridley Scott. The fact that the movie got finished (only due to a 27 hour stint on their last ‘day‘ of filming) after tearing through its budget and then some is down to his force of will. That story can be explored in some detail in the documentary “Dangerous Days“, which I reviewed earlier in the year.
What you take from the movie is a personal ‘journey’, for several it proves the end of the line and there is a touch of noire to the whole thing. Is there such a thing as a happy ending.
Depends which version you’re watching.
This version of the movie is available in the 5 disk Complete Collector’s Edition.
In essence it is the preview version, the one shown to selected audiences to gauge how the movie is likely to be received and whether the edit is on the right track.
This preview convinced the producers to make some changes to the feel of the piece.
All versions are recognisable and essentially the same movie but the tweaks do change the ambience of the production dramatically. For example – this version opens with a simple ‘stamp’ screen. The definition of a Replicant is used as an opening to the movie. I’m sure that there are minor difference between this and any of the other versions, it feels quite violent in some scenes.
The kick-in-the-teeth is that the vast majority of Vangelis’s fine score for the movie is missing. We can speculate why but the feel is dramatically changed as a result.
The movie also is missing any “enhanced” ending that you may have scene on other versions, closer to the concept originally intended by the director.
Ridley Scott did not approve this cut for the previews, which is why I suppose the original theatrical release for the US deviated from his vision so much. Listening to the narration of Paul M. Sammon gives great insight into the producion and differences in this version of Blade Runner.
On this DVD there’s a decent documentary, “All Our Variant Futures“. This explain the environment around the creation of “Blade Runner: The Final Cut“. Feels a bit odd to be on this disk but is interesting.
Things to look out for:
Opening sequence, dystopian vision, “No choice, huh?“, annoying voice-over, Voight-Kampff test, “Tortoise? What’s that?“, refrigerated working conditions, photo editor, wonderful score by Vangelis, flying cars, Tyrell Building, Rachel (Sean Young), excellent performances from Rutger Hauer and Harrison Ford, death of a god, “…you have burnt so very, very brightly, Roy.“, Advertising in the sky, Voight-Kampff revisited, “How can it not know what it is?“, Memories, Photos, Zhora’s unusually high profile job, “Have you felt yourself exploited in any way?“, acrobatics and hot eggs, JF’s toys, “Home again, home again…“, hunted and hunter through empty apartment block, “…you’ve gotta shoot straight.“, roof-top revelations, “like tears in rain“, pathetic happy ending
Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, William Sanderson, Joe Turkell, Joanna Cassidy, Brion James, Daryl Hannah, M. Emmett Walsh, Edward James Olmos
Rating: interesting and flawed preview of an absolute classic, as a result a must see for fans, highly recommended
Part of the “Five-Disc Complete Collector’s Edition”