Blade Runner 2049 debuts in theaters tomorrow night. Along with so many other people, I will be going Edwards Theater here in Idaho Falls to see this new film. Directed by the masterful Denis Villeneuve, this is the film that has given me more anticipation this year than any other movie. Now, as I’ve done a top 10 list so far of movies this year, that includes Logan and Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 2 as my number one and number two, respectively, this is the time of year that I love. It’s also the fun time of year where those that I work with here at The Group Real Estate give me a hard time about loving this time of year, in film. The Oscar bait movies are all going to start flowing in. The cinema snob in me goes crazy and I feel it’s finally my time to go see the film I have truly been waiting the year to see. Now, before I go too much farther, Logan is definitely the type of film that transcends this notion. It is a “superhero movie”, yes. But, it is so much more, especially now knowing its the only film that has been submitted to the Academy in looking forward to awards season. But, with Blade Runner 2049 about to hit theaters, it is the one that will go higher and is already garnering multiple awards worthy notions, including director, actor, supporting actor, and cinematography. As I could go on for a full blog about these few things, I will stop here with it, and move on to the meat of the blog. The original Blade Runner.
I saw Blade Runner for the first time when I was older, actually. It came out the year I was born and was sought after as a cult classic for the time. The background on the film is even more intriguing and makes you truly believe that it has hit such a wonderful cult following. The theatrical cut of the film is made for the easy going, every day movie chaser. Someone who loves to go the movies to be entertained, sit back and eat some popcorn, and leave feeling as though they had a nice visual and auditory night out. This wasn’t the film that Ridley Scott intended to make, though. He wanted something that was darker, had emotional weight, and felt depressing by it’s end. The main fact, also, being that he wanted it to be ambiguous, yet still give us the answer we were craving. Now I am about to get into some spoilers of the original Blade Runner here. If you haven’t seen any of the cuts of the film, you have been warned. If you haven’t seen it at all, I suggest you stop reading now and make sure and go watch the Final Cut of the film.
The ending of the theatrical cut was lost on test audiences. Back in the early eighties there weren’t a lot of films like this being made. The ones that were are heralded as masterpieces, though. 2001 Space Odyssey and The Shining being a part of those (both, ironically, directed by the same guy). With Ridley Scott at the helm of Blade Runner, he set out to do the same thing. When test audiences saw a science fiction genre tag on it, there were thoughts that it would be like Star Wars or Star Trek. Now, this film is an adaptation of a very famous Philip K Dick short novel. Philip K Dick was known for writing some very deep thinking science fiction. Ridley didn’t want to disappoint there. The test audiences, however, hated it and wanted him to change the ending and add in a narration to the beginning to help “catch people up to speed.” Even Harrison Ford was reluctant to wanting to do this. Now, the end of the movie, we find out that Harrison’s character Deckard is a replicant. The replicants are androids that are, basically, used as slaves, but have an uprising, which they revolt against the Earth. So they are shipped off to the moon. Harrison plays Deckard, a detective who seeks out and destroys (murders?) these replicants. This is what sets this film apart from others. The idea that these “androids” are actually human like. Do they have souls? Do they feel? Do they dream? etc. Deckard is then forced to choose at the end, when we find out he is a replicant himself. Now, the reason I say these things, is that it is very ambiguous in the theatrical cut of the movie that he is a replicant and ends up falling in love with Rachel, the last replicant he was sent to kill.
Ridley then went on to release a 5 disc set in the 2000s that had many different “cuts” of the film. He had done a Director’s Cut that took away the narration and the strange added ending, which kept the ambiguity of the film. Then he did what was called the Final Cut. This is the version that everyone heralds as the one to watch, the one that is the most “put together” of them all. The reason being is there are dreams that are placed somewhat strategically and there is one pivotal scene at the end, involving Edwards James Olmos’ character (who was Deckard’s partner), where he hints at the dream and the idea tells us that Deckard is the replicant. Now the reason that I put out there that this is a “flawed masterpiece” is it has some flaws. Most audiences would say that it is boring, that some of the dialogue and slow moving parts are tough to watch, and that it still is confusing to a lot. One of my favorite critics has finally given it an A+. For the first few times he saw it, he didn’t like it, he watched it more and more, viewing each of the different cuts, and still not understanding why so many loved it.
I had this similar experience when I watched it the first few times. I loved the score, and I loved Harrison. The bleak atmosphere in the neon lights and cinematography was dirty and awesome to look at. But, even watching the Directors Cut, I still had some questions and felt lost. There were so many parts I loved and wanted to keep loving. I would keep revisiting it every six months, to a year. As I’ve found myself diving further into the darkness of loving cinema even more, I have found that with each viewing of Blade Runner, I still may find some of the flaws, but knowing the background of it all, the ideas that come from it, what it has become as a cult classic, and catching more and more each time I watch it, Blade Runner is a beautiful, flawed masterpiece!