Blade Runner and me: Or Return of the Revenge of the Director 2: the Sequel.

A futuristic Los Angeles in Blade Runner.

Image via Wikipedia

One thing with posting random quotes on this blog, is that it reminds me of things that I would like to write about. In this case random quote 23 reminded me of ‘Blade Runner’.

I feel like I have a long history with Ridley Scott’s adaptation of Philip K Dicks ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’ In a personal sense it arrived at an important time for me, I was 19 and was beginning to turn my nose up at ‘juvenile’ Science Fiction, like Star Wars, and Star Trek, (Don’t worry I’m better now, and fully capable of appreciating juvenile and adult fiction at the same time {Well not simultaneously of course, I can‘t multi-task to that extent}.) So an adaptation of one of the best known books of one of Sci Fi’s more ‘socially serious’ and ‘Dark’ authors was to me something I got quite exited about.

I saw Blade Runner in the first week of it’s original release, and liked it a lot, the plot worked, the feel and look of the film was Fantastic. It was a dirty future, that felt real engrosing, and complex. There were dozens of scenes, clearly there as no more than background, from which entire alternate plot lines unfolded in my head as I watched. I confess that I hardly noticed the now infamous voiceover, but was irritated by the end, partly the shot of the released dove was so out of sync with the mood and visualisation of the rest of the movie, and the happy ending, drive into the green countryside, felt utterly out of sync too. Otherwise I loved it, it was a grown up science fiction movie.

In my memory it seems like the ‘directors cut’ appeared not that long after, but in reality it was a whole 9 years later, and again I toddled off to the cinema, to see what had been made of the film. By this time of course Harrison Fords irritation over the voiceover was well known. There was also a strong narrative in various Science Fiction Publications that the end was naff, but I thought that anyway. So I went in to see the new version of a film I really liked anyway. And came out an even bigger fan.

The absence of the voiceover was a huge improvement. In retrospect I think that the ‘Cyberpunk’ qualities of the film were overshadowed by the Sam Spade type voiceover, which although at one level was completely in keeping with the other aspects of ‘retrofitting’ in the movie, somehow kept dragging the narrative out of the future and pushing it into the past. Without it the future, built on the post apocalyptic debris of the past, seemed somehow to have a grater depth to it. However the dove at the end still irritated me. After all the careful visualisation and artistic quality of the rest of the film, the panels of a unit in some anonymous industrial park seemed incongruous. Though in this version the not so happy ending was so much better.

And so another 16 years past, and the ‘Final Cut’ appeared, by this time getting to the cinema to see this newest version, for one reason and another, wasn’t an option for me, so it was DVD or nothing. Nevertheless, I was enthusiastic, and sat down to watch, I confess that if there are other differences other than the CGI improvement of the Dove sequence, I didn’t really notice them. However the discovery that, that particular sequence had clearly been bugging the director for 25 years in the same way it had bugged me was such a revelation. and a relief, that it was worth it.

I think it is probably fair to say that Blade Runner gave rise to the entire genre of the ‘directors cut/special edition’, most examples of which seem to be little more than an excuse to squeeze the price of an extra DVD out of the paying public. An exception to this rule is the film Aliens, which as well as being a sequel better than the original, is also better in the Directors Cut/special edition, but that’s another story.

It has always struck me that Blade Runner represents a piece of ongoing warfare between Directors and Producers. For Ridley Scott specifically it seems to represent the victory of the directors vision over the ‘marketing men/women’. I think that this has had a hugely beneficial effect on filmmaking generally.

One example which I believe owes a debt to Ridley Scott and Blade Runner, is Peter Jacksons rendition of the Lord of The Rings. The particular scene which springs to mind, is the confrontation at the gate into Mordor where the allied armies of Gondor and Rohan, confront Saurons Orcs. Reportedly the Marketing men/women were concerned that there was no final climactic battle between Aragorn and Sauron, and wanted Sauron to march out of Mordor and fight toe to toe, with Aragorn. According to the ‘making of’ documentary linked to the return of the king, the scene was even filmed, though ultimately Sauron was replaced with a Troll.

It would have been an unmitigated disaster if Sauron had been personified, Peter Jacksons LOTR has it’s faults. Purists for instance deplore the absence of Tom Bombadill for instance, but on the whole it is a fairly faithful reproduction of the book, and a major aspect of the book is that Sauron, is a faceless, unformed, personification of evil, an intangible, insipid shadow, that pollutes and chokes everything without ever taking form. To have given him a shape would have been a sacrilege too far for the army of fans that went to see this final film. It also makes me wonder if the marketing/money men/women, actually read the book.

I think Jacksons victory over this issue grew directly out of Ridley Scotts ongoing work with Blade Runner, it took 25 years, but he was proven right, his version was way better than the ones with all the tampering the producers did. I wonder as well if the ‘re-mastering’ of the Star Wars Movies doesn’t owe a little to Blade Runner too, since it seemed to open the door to allowing successful directors to tinker with their films over extended time periods.

Blade Runner Is a great film, often cited as the best Science Fiction film of all time, which I tend to agree with, up to now at least.

If you haven’t seen it, I think you are lucky, because you can get the ’Final Cut’ and watch a finished version first, if you want to watch the other versions afterwards, go ahead, but watch the finished version first, I think it’s worth it.

TRC

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About Transremaxculver

An entirely fictitious username I created for posting on 'alt.religion.scientology', Scientology is something of which I am highly critical. For those of you who don't know, the Church of Scientology have a habit of making life very uncomfortable for even the most legitimate of critics, which is why this username is completely anonymous. Anyway I have become quite fond of this username, and although it has to some extent outgrown it's original purpose, I think a blog is perhaps the right place for me/it to continue to grow and develop.
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