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Blade Runner

BLADE RUNNER



USA, 1982


Director: Ridley Scott

Production: Ladd Company in association with Sir Run Run Shaw; Technicolor, 35mm, Panavision, Dolby Stereo; running time: about 2 hours. Released June, 1982; re-released in 1991. Filmed 1981 in Pinewood and Twickenham Studios, England, and on location in Los Angeles.


Producer: Michael Deeley; screenplay: Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, from the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick; photography: Jordan Cronenweth; editor: Terry Rawlings; sound mixer: Bud Alper; sound editor: Peter Pennell; dialogue editor: Michael Hopkins; production designer: Lawrence G. Paull; art director: David Snyder; music: Vangelis; special effects: Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich, and David Dryer; costume designers: Charles Knode and Michael Kaplan; visual futurist: Syd Mead.

Cast: Harrison Ford (Deckard); Rutger Hauer (Batty); Sean Young (Rachael); Edward James Olmos (Gaff); M. Emmet Walsh (Bryant); Darryl Hannah (Pris); William Sanderson (Sebastian); Brion James (Leon); Joe Turkel (Tyrell); Joanna Cassidy (Zhora); James Hong (Chew); Morgan Paull (Holden); Kevin Thompson (Bear); John Edward Allen (Kaiser); Hy Pyke (Taffey Lewis); Kimiro Hiroshige (Cambodian Lady); Robert Okazaki (Sushi Master); Carolyn De Mirjian (Saleslady); Charles Knapp (Bartender No. 1); Leo Gorcey, Jr. (Bartender No. 2); Thomas Hutchinson (Bartender No. 3); Kelly Hine (Show Girl); Sharon Hesky (Barfly No. 1); Rose Mascari (Barfly No. 2); Susan Rhee (Geisha No. 1); Hiroko Kimuri (Geisha No. 2); Kai Wong (Chinese Man No. 1); Kit Wong (Chinese Man No. 2); Hiro Okazki (Policeman No. 1); Steve Pope (Policeman No. 2); Robert Reiter (Policeman No. 3).

Publications


Script:

Fancher, Hampton, and David Webb Peoples, The Illustrated BladeRunner, San Diego 1982.


Books:

Scroggy, David, editor, Blade Runner Sketchbook, San Diego, 1982.

Peary, Danny, Cult Movies 3, New York, 1988.

McDonald, James, Fantasy and the Cinema, London, 1989.

Kerman, Judith B., editor, Retrofitting Blade Runner, Bowling Green, Ohio, 1991.

Sammon, Paul, Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner, New York, 1996.

Kerman, Judith B., editor, Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in RidleyScott's Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream ofElectric Sheep?, Bowling Green, Ohio, 1997.

Bukatman, Scott, Blade Runner, London, 1998.


Articles:

Mills, Bart, "The Brave New World of Production Design," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), January-February 1982.

Variety (New York), 16 June 1982.

Sarris, Andrew, in Village Voice (New York), 8 July 1982.

Corliss, Richard, in Time (New York), 12 July 1982.

Kael, Pauline, in New Yorker, 12 July 1982.

"Blade Runner Issue" of Cinefex (Riverside, California), July 1982.

Lightman, Herb A., and Richard Patterson, "Blade Runner: Production Design and Photography," in American Cinematographer (Los Angeles), July 1982.

Kennedy, Harlan, in Film Comment (New York), July-August 1982.

Strick, Philip, in Sight and Sound (London), Summer 1982.

Colpart, G., in Image et Son (Paris), September 1982.

Goldschmidt, D., in Cinématographe (Paris), September 1982.

Milne, Tom, in Monthly Film Bulletin (London), September 1982.

"Blade Runner Issues" of Starburst (London), September-November 1982.

Girard, M., in Séquences (Montreal), October 1982.

Roddick, Nick, in Films and Filming (London), October 1982.

Skytte, A., in Kosmorama (Copenhagen), October 1982.

Dumont, P., in Cinéma (Paris), November 1982.

Garsault, A., in Positif (Paris), November 1982.

Assayas, O., and S. Le Peron, interview with Ridley Scott, in Casablanca (Madrid), March 1983.

Piccardi, A., in Cineforum (Bergamo), December 1982.

Dempsey, Michael, in Film Quarterly (Berkeley), Winter 1982–83.

Cardenas, F., in Hablemos de Cine (Lima), February 1983.

Caron, A., "Les Archetypes chez Ridley Scott," in Jeune Cinéma (Paris), March 1983.

Pacileo, V., in Cinema Nuovo (Bari), April 1983.

Durgnat, Raymond, "Art for Film's Sake," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), May 1983.

Martin, R., "La Photographie merité bien note mefiance," in RevueBelge du Cinéma (Brussels), Summer 1983.

Kellner, D., and others, "Blade Runner: A Diagnostic Critique," in Jump Cut (Berkeley), February 1984.

Dresser, D., "Blade Runner: Science Fiction and Transcendence," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), July 1985.

Doll, Susan and Greg Faller, "Blade Runner and Genre: Film Noir and Science Fiction," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), April 1986.

Olive, J. Louis, "Les Structures de l'enfermement urbain," in Cahiers de la Cinématheque (Perpignan), no. 44, 1986.

Camera Obscura (Berkeley), Autumn 1986.

Ruppert, P., "Blade Runner: The Utopian Dialectics of Science Fiction Films," in Cineaste (New York), no. 2, 1989.

Berg, C. R., "Immigrants, Aliens, and Extraterrestrials: Science Fiction's Alien 'Other' as (Among Other Things) New Hispanic Imagery," in Cineaction (Toronto), Fall 1989.

Morrision, R., "Casablanca Meets Stars Wars: The Blakean Dialectics of Blade Runner," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), no. 1, 1990.

Slade, J. W., "Romanticizing Cybernetics in Ridley Scott's BladeRunner," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), no. 1, 1990.

Shumaker, C., "More Human than Humans: Society, Salvation, and the Outsider in Some Popular Films of the 1980s," in Journal ofAmerican Culture (Bowling Green, Ohio), no. 4, 1990.

Wilhelmsson, P., "Design tai vallankumous," in Filmihullu (Helsinki), no. 6, 1990.

Attolini, G., "Dagli spazi aperti all'universo urbano," in Quaderni diCinema (Florence), July-September 1990.

Telotte, J. P., "The Tremulous Public Body," in Journal of PopularFilm and Television (Washington, D.C.), no. 1, 1991.

Levy, S., "Ridley Scissorhands," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), August 1991.

Marder, E., "Blade Runner's Moving Still," in Camera Obscura (Bloomington, Indiana), September 1991.

Silverman, K., "Back to the Future," in Camera Obscura (Bloomington, Indiana), September 1991.

Instrell, Rick, "Blade Runner: The Economic Shaping of a Film," in Cinema & Fiction, edited by John Orr and Colin Nicholson, Edinburgh, 1992.

Wilmington, M., "The Rain People," in Film Comment (New York), January-February 1992.

Rynell, T., "Den morknande framtid ar var," in Filmhaftet (Uppsala, Sweden), May 1992.

Albrecht, D., "Blade Runner Cuts Deep into American Culture," in New York Times, 20 September 1992.

Strick, P., "Blade Runner: Telling the Difference," in Sight andSound (London), December 1992.

Instrell, Rick, "Blader Runner: The Economic Shaping of the Film," in John Orr and Colin Nicholson, editors, Cinema and Fiction:New Modes of Adapting, 1950–1990, Edinburgh, 1992.

Bruno, Giuliano, "Ramble City: Postmodernism and Blade Runner," in Crisis Cinema, edited by Christopher Sharrett, Washington, D.C., 1993.

Alliez, E., and M. Feher, "Dick City," in Filmihulu (Helsinki), no. 1, 1993.

Bruno, M. W., "One More Kiss My Dear," in Segnocinema (Vincenza, Italy), January-February 1993.

McNamara, Kevin R., "Blade Runner's Post-Individual Worldspace," in Contemporary Literature (Madison, Wisconsin), vol. 38, no. 3, Fall 1997.

Gravett, Sharon L., "The Sacred and the Profane: Examining the Religious Subtext of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner," and P. Lev, "Whose Future? Star Wars, Alien, and Blade Runner," in Literature Film Quarterly (Salisbury, Maryland), vol. 26, no. 1, 1998.


* * *

This futuristic hard-boiled detective yarn stars Harrison Ford as a world-weary film noir hero whose job is to smoke out and retire (i.e., destroy) "replicants"—androids with a human instinct for survival—in an overcrowded Los Angeles circa 2019.

Complications arise when Ford falls for an android, a gorgeous experimental model played by Sean Young, dressed up as a 1940s film noir femme fatale, and comes to the conclusion that his task of mercilessly hunting and striking down these creatures whose only crime is a belief in their humanity has dulled his own humanity— although it is subsequently revealed, somewhat obscurely, that Ford comes to identify with them because he's a replicant with deep-rooted memory chips himself.

Director Ridley Scott used his clout following the success of Alien (1979) to create this visually striking science-fiction piece, drawn from Philip K. Dick's novella Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Partisans consider the novella (somewhat altered in the film version) and the film modern masterpieces of the genre. Certainly the film's milestone special effects (orchestrated by 2001's Douglas Trumbull and an army of technicians) are stunning. As is Scott's evocation of a teeming, twenty-first century Los Angeles perpetually drenched in rain or steam. Apart from the occasional spacecraft circling the Capitol Records building, it looks remarkably like Scott's garish evocation of present day Tokyo in his subsequent neo-noir (minus the sci-fi element) Black Rain (1989).

The film's dramatic structure is much less satisfying, however, although it has been significantly improved with the studio's release of the never-before-seen "director's cut."

Scott suffered a great deal of studio interference in the course of making the film. The script underwent numerous rewrites before and during filming. His woes (he called the experience "a war") continued through post-production and several previews until the film was released in 1982, becoming a cult favorite but a box-office flop.

Audiences were knocked out by the film's images but frustrated by the ambiguities of many major plot points (Ford's being an android among them), and bored by the constant narration inserted over and obscuring the otherwise imaginatively detailed soundtrack to help clarify them. That the narration spoken by Ford in his customary expressionless monotone slowed the film's pace to almost a crawl didn't help. There is some debate as to whether Ford's narration was planned from the start or cobbled together in a panic move during post-production. Evidence suggests the former. But the unwelcome decision not to drop it for the film's initial release hints at the latter.

In any case, when the studio re-released the film in 1991 in a newly struck 70mm "director's cut"—the print now in circulation on video—the narration was jettisoned. It's deletion improves the film's pace considerably. (Even Harrison Ford has gone on record as saying so.) Many plot ambiguities remain, but the significant revelation that Ford himself is a replicant—and all the more human because of it, who finally realizes his brotherhood with the android combatant (Hauer) he has destroyed, is much clearer now.

Ironically, although many so-called "director's cuts" tend to re-insert footage—typically explicitly sexual or violent scenes—trimmed from the first-round general release, Blade Runner—The Director's Cut actually takes the opposite route by toning this footage down a bit. For example, Darryl Hannah's gymnastic android doesn't take quite as many bullet hits as before—nor do you see Ford gouge Hauer's eyes. Enough remains to sustain the film's R rating, however.

—John McCarty

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