38 years since the premiere of the cult film Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford
The first thing I have to say is that Blade Runner is one of the movies that I'm afraid to write about. Not only because it is a film that I really like, and in which every time I see it, I discover something new and different (and not only due to the innumerable montages that exist of it, and of which almost all have seen me, because I have the VHS version, the first DVD that came out with a director's cut, and without dubbing into Spanish, and the definitive Director's Cut of 2008, but also because I know that it is a cult film, with many fans around the world who undoubtedly they could be very critical of what was written about it.
After going back to see the documentary that accompanies the last edition on DVD, and which lasts a whopping 3 and a half hours, what remains, without a doubt, is the amount of difficulties the film went through. But we will talk about it later.
The film is glancingly based on one of science fiction master Philip K. Dick's novels, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? With a script by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, he narrates as if a film noir was about (and it is too), an episode in the life of detective and Blade Runner, Rick Deckard. The Blade Runners are in charge of "removing" the replicants that escape from the colonies and reach Earth. In 2019, four have arrived, and Deckard is tasked with removing them. These four are of the latest model from the Tyrrell Corporation, Nexus 6, very smart because they were created by the owner and genius of the company, which will make the order to Deckard very difficult. To help his location, he is provided with an interview with one of the replicants that Tyrrell keeps in his company without him really knowing what he is. It is a female model, who seeks the help of the detective when realizing his own condition. Both begin a bumpy relationship, in the midst of searching and withdrawing the other replicants.
A slow movie (not slow), and addressed in the script Hampton. The latter was exhausted from the continuous changes that Ridley Scott proposed to him, and in view of his refusal, Scott sought help from another screenwriter, David Peoples. The problems did not end in the script, since the project was large and it was necessary to look for more financing, since the initial budget was doubled. When it was finally achieved, it was done quickly, and without much possibility of negotiation, which gave excessive control in the assembly to those who had put the paste.
For the choice of the cast of actors, Dustin Hoffman was proposed as the protagonist, after having rejected the first option that was Robert Mitchum. Hoffman became very involved in the project, but the duration of the pre-production was so long, that in the end he was completely disconnected and had to find another protagonist. Scott had heard Harrison Ford's Steven Spielberg speak very well, seeking a more dramatic role than the two he had recently played (Star Wars and Indiana Jones), and accepted the role. A role, which may well be said to have been the best of his career.
For the character of the female replicant and partner of Deckart, and after a long casting and a lot of tests, Scott was captivated by the freshness of a young Sean Young, who was only 22 years old. One of Young's biggest problems was his inexperience, which earned him Scott's dependence and the exasperation of his partner Ford, with whom he had more than one argument, in which she ended up crying. This undoubtedly benefited the performance of both, and you can see in the film all that sustained tension throughout almost all the scenes they share. Something that as I say, came in handy for the development of this strange relationship.
Rutger Hauer was the leader of the replicants. Also with a superb performance, full of improvisation and contributions on his part, which gave him that playful, ambiguous, and feral character that feels so good to the character. In fact, the final monologue of his death is practically his invention, and has been etched in the minds of many who, like me, are fans of the film: those "memories, which will be lost as tears in the rain" It still makes my hair stand on end.
In the cast we also have an athletic Daryl Hannah, as Hauer's companion replicant. Brilliant too. And we can name other great supporters with great roles, such as Eduard James Olmos with that Interlingua based on numerous languages that he invented himself, Joanna Cassidy, M. Emmet Walsh, ...
After a tumultuous shoot, full of humidity, rain, dirt, with Scott filling it all with smoke from burned coal to give even more the impression of a future without much future (excuse the redundancy), where everything is dark and sad, it came to assembly. Here came the big problems, because the producers wanted a film that the general public understood, something that did not seem very clear after a few first test views. They started with cuttings of scenes that were unnecessary for them, they put in a voice-over, so that everything was much clearer.
It is something that I understand, because I have seen the domestic montage, which is what the producers did with voiceover, and the latest version, with what Scott supposedly really wanted to do, and undoubtedly, for a large part of the public, And without having seen the “easy” montage, it can be difficult to see, or even boring for those moments, when there is no dialogue, but the images speak for themselves. Something very similar happened to me with ‘Drive’, praised by many (among which I find myself) and ignored by others, for its “slowness”.
The reception by the public and critics did not help much either, since the premiere coincided with another of the greats of science fiction, ET. And part of the criticism deemed it complex and slow. Without a doubt, what was is ahead of its time, which played a lot against it when it came to winning over the public, although time has put it in its place, being considered today as a great classic of science cinema fiction, a cult work for many, and perfect for others.
I only have one thing left to add (well, many, but I don't want to bore you with too much detail), I recommend that after viewing Blade Runner, give the film's documentary a chance, because despite having an extensive duration, you can see from details of the filming, anecdotes, statements by the actors, producers, screenwriters, director, ... deleted scenes, evidence of scenes, a multitude of different points of view, and even various casting tests for the actors signed and eliminated. In short, a joyous reportage.
I hope I have encouraged you to see this magnificent movie again, and if you have never seen it before you discover it. A must for any good movie buff and hobbyist.
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