Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner (1982), directed by Ridley Scott.

I saw this on opening night at the great Cinerama theater where my moving-going gang saw premiers of all the great science fiction and adventure films of that era: Star Wars (1977), Alien (1979), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), and others great and not so great. The theater is long gone now, replaced by a Wells Fargo ice arena.

We had no idea the film was a flop at the time. We were loopy over Ridley Scott for Alien (1979) and this seemed like another work of artistic SF genius.

I've seen it many times since and watched all the different cuts on home video and I don't suppose there is much new to discover. I have a jumbo paperback: Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner by Paul M. Sammon. If I were to actually read that and view all the disc extras I would know more about the film, but in this case I like to stick with what is on the screen.

I hadn't seen the theatrical cut for a long time and wanted to give it another look. That first night we complained about the bad voice-over narration and the tacked-on happy ending, but (a) your first time is always special, whatever its flaws, and (b) the narration adds another dimension of weirdness to an already overstuffed creative vision. The Hollywood ending reminds us that we are in a movie-making tradition, not some totally new art form.

I see much more film history context now. We recognized the futuristic skyscraper quotes of Metropolis (1927) and the film-noir detective plot at the time (although now M. Emmet Walsh's lines all sound like cop-movie cliches). I see more comedy: the classic car and punk haircuts in rainy LA always got a laugh, but now Harrison Ford getting beaten up by Brion James and Daryl Hannah seems like comedy action, until the guns come out. Ford hangs off the film-famous Bradbury Building like Harold Lloyd in Safety Last! (1923).

Random notes:

Available on Blu-ray, and the "Final Cut" is now on UHD. My thumbnails are from the old five-disc "Complete Collector's Edition" Blu-ray set.