Blade Runner: The Director's Cut (1982)

Devoted fans have been waiting ten years to see this film as director Ridley Scott intended it, and doubtless they'll be flocking to find out what Blade Runner looks and sounds like without that intrusive hard-boiled voice over and the sappy happy ending lifted from the opening shots of The Shining and with a very short dream sequence involving a unicorn restored to its proper place in the baffling narrative. However, although the voice-over was universally considered pretty silly, it would be interesting to know if anyone who hadn't seen the earlier version could actually follow what is going on.

Every time I see this film again (in whatever version), I spend the first twenty minutes being overwhelmed by Scott's detailed and astonishing vision of the future, not to mention the shimmering presence of Sean Young, Rutger Hauer and / or Darryl Hannah (delete according to sex, taste and preference), and thinking that I've been wrong to consider it a muddled and flawed enterprise. Then Harrison Ford's wooden performance as the futuristic android killer starts getting on my nerves and I remember just how much more effective the story was in the context of Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. I spend the rest of the film trawling for the flashes of brilliance in an increasingly turgid and frankly boring plod that should be a razor-sharp s-f thriller with satirical overtones.

As ever, you'll be astonished by the future cityscapes and the wonderful set decoration and momentarily intrigued by the bizarre succession of human and / or fake supporting characters. But it's irritating to realise that even in this restored version nobody has bothered to set the script straight on just how many replicants are supposedly running loose (no, Ford isn't secretly an android, Scott simply included a few lines of dialogue from an earlier draft in which there was an additional replicant character) and that without the spuriously 'up' ending, the film doesn't actually have any ending. Vaguely essential viewing, but still a disappointment.
KIM NEWMAN

First Published In: Venue (issue unknown)


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