Director: Ridley Scott
Production: Ladd Company in association with Sir Run Run Shaw; Technicolor, 35mm, Panavision, Dolby Stereo; running time: about
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 ).
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Sammon, Paul, Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner , New York, 1996.
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Martin, R., "La Photographie merité bien note mefiance," in Revue Belge du Cinéma (Brussels), Summer 1983.
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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.
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Berg, C. R., "Immigrants, Aliens, and Extraterrestrials: Science Fiction's Alien 'Other' as (Among Other Things) New Hispanic Imagery," in Cineaction (Toronto), Fall 1989.
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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.