By Bradley Lane
Blade Runner was released in its original form in 1982 with a wide United States theatrical release. It was released to mixed reviews from critics. Some cited its long run time and overuse of special effects as case of style over substance. Others praised its complexity and heady themes as a work of pure genius. Even now the jury is out on its quality, but whether though the film’s merit itself or its incredibly expansive influence, it has been remembered fondly in cinema history.
In Blade Runner’s universe, there are replicants, synthetic human-like clones used as slave labor, primarily for the construction of colonies on the moon. Our story follows Rick Deckard, tasked to hunt down rouge replicants, as he investigates the whereabouts of a group of replicants who escaped off the moon to 2019 Los Angeles.
The initial release of Blade Runner was ultimately compromised by an untrusting studio who demanded voice-over narration and an extraneous ending to help audiences understand the narrative a little easier. In the full scope of the film, these changes detract from the mystery and dark tone of the original vision. This led to the development of a new cut of the film being made by director Ridley Scott to restore his original vision. After two other versions completed and released, Scott created a definitive version in 2007, Blade Runner: The Final Cut. He removed the narration, added a few carefully placed violent scenes, recolored the film with modern color, grading techniques and shortens the ending to remain ambiguous and mysterious.
Blade Runner’s strongest aspect is its incredible production value. Ridley Scott builds a world that feels lived in and grounded while introducing audiences to science fiction settings that would become staples in years to come. Scott creates an aesthetic that has emulated endlessly since its release in ‘82. Films like Gattaca, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Ex Machina and The Terminator would not exist without the groundwork established by Scott with Blade Runner.
Blade Runner’s story explores what it means to be human and forces the viewer to grapple with uncomfortable scenarios. It is a slow, and oftentimes alienating, film that requires attention to fully understand and appreciate. This is not to say the pacing always works to the film’s benefit. Bade Runner suffers by getting caught up in showing you how incredibly detailed the world is and often forgets to take the story along with it.
Blade Runner is one of the defining films of the 1980s and has lived on as not only a fan favorite, but as an intellectual piece of filmmaking as well. You can catch Blade Runner: The Final Cut in IMAX this Friday, March 1, at the Indiana State Museum at 7 p.m.
Blade Runner: The Final Cut
March 1, 7 p.m.
IMAX® Theatre at the Indiana State Museum
650 W. Washington St., Indianapolis