The Velvet Café

A room for thoughts about movies

When I fell in love with Blade Runner all over again

with 23 comments

bladerunner
I’ve renewed my vows of love for Blade Runner.

It had been a long time coming, ever since the Swedish science fiction convention that was held earlier this year. After hearing a one hour long lecture by a knowledgeable fan, who praised the novel it’s based on (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick) as well as the movie in equal amounts, I realized that it was about time that I did a revisit.

FuturenoirFuture Noir
Following his recommendation I began by reading Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner by Paul M. Sammon, a 400+ page book that was written over the course of 15 years. It has everything: from a background story of Philip K Dick to the aftermath and the final editions that were released years and years after the original version. No detail is too small to include. And it doesn’t shy away from the ugly stuff: the conflicts (Ridley Scott was at one point more or less at war with the majority of the film workers, including Harrison Ford), the compromises that were made for budget reasons and as a reaction to the negative test screenings and the cool reception it had at its launch, from critics as well as at the box office.

I haven’t read everything that has been written about Blade Runner, but I can’t imagine there is any other book out there which is anyone near this in regards of amount of information. Or as Sammon says in the introduction:

“It’s only fitting that a book examining the history of one of the most compulsively detailed motion pictures ever made should spring from one writer’s equally compulsive obsession with that picture”.

Yeah.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
do androids dreamMy next step was to read the soucre material, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I had a vague idea of having read it before, but if so, it must have been very long time ago and the memory was deeply buried under the Blade Runner version of the story. Now I was curious to see how much in the film that originated from the book and on which points they were different to each other.

I won’t make a whole catalogue over the differences. It’s enough to say that there are quite a lot of them: the existence of Decker’s wife, his ownership of a mechanic sheep and his dream of one day owning a real one. And there’s a pretty obscure storyline about a virtual reality where people go to meet the prophet Wilbur Mercer, a part of the story I couldn’t quite wrap my head around, and which unsurprisingly was left out of the film.

But the core and the atmosphere of the story is the same: Deckard’s pursuit of the replicants – or androids, as they originally was called – and all the moral issues that come with this hunt, questions about what it means to be a human and what rights it gives us over other creatures – naturally born or manmade. Even the suggestion that Deckard himself in fact could be a replicant is raised a couple of times, though (I think) it eventually boils down to that he isn’t. I can definitely see where Ridley Scott got the idea from; it’s not something he picked completely out of the blue. The doubt was present in the origins.

The Final Cut
Next up was a revisit to Blade Runner itself, which I had seen a few times before, but it had been a while since last time. This time I watched a version I hadn’t seen before – or at least I didn’t think I had: the “Final Cut” (are we supposed to believe they’ll never touch it again?) from 2007.  To be honest I had a very vague idea of all the available versions before I read Future Noir. I’ve been a bad fan, but from now on I’m going to keep track on whBlade-Runner-Rutger-Hauerich Blade Runner I’m watching, it’s a promise!

And what can I say? It was gorgeous. I loved every second of it, from the shock start “Let me tell you about my mother” until “It’s too bad she won’t live! But then again, who does?” – this time without the glued on happy-car-tour from the theatrical release.

I loved the absence of voice-over. For me, who has seen the movie with the narrative voice, who has read all the background material and the book, it works perfectly well without any further explanations. But if you went into it blind, not knowing a thing about it, I can imagine it would be a little confusing, so I can see why they thought it necessary to include it at the launch.

I loved it for the look, the never-ceasing rain, the smoke, the darkness and the neon, copied so many times, but we all know where it comes from. I loved it for the eerie synthesizer music by Vangelis, probably not something you’d hear in a new movie, but perfectly fitting here.

It’s amazing how well Blade Runner has aged. All those handmade special effects, done with real models, lights and paint stand up well against modern CGI heavy movies. And the themes feel as relevant today as 30 years ago. It’s only the computer screens that look a little dated. Don’t they always?

dangerous daysDangerous Days
As a final to my Blade Runner marathon I decided to watch the extra material, the documentary Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner. The DVD cover didn’t say how long it was so I assumed it was a standard 25 minute behind-the-scenes. That kind of films are unfortunately usually rather dull and disappointing, consisting of a number of talking heads singing the praise of the movie in question without really saying or revealing anything.

My expectations were low, but fortunately they turned out to be exceeded in the most spectacular manner. It turned out that it was 3,5 hours long – almost twice as long as the movie itself – containing tons of footage from the film sets, drawings of scenes that eventually had to be cut out for budget reasons and interviews with all sorts of people involved in the production that are quite upfront and honest about the difficulties that the project went through. Of course I recognized some of it from the book I just had read, but thanks to all the pictures I’d say that the overlap is minimal. If you’re as crazy as I am about this film, you don’t need to choose between reading the book and watching the documentary. You want to do both.

Renewed love
My project had finally come to an end. You would think I was tired of the film after spending hours and hours in company with it. I wasn’t. It was rather the opposite: after a slow start with the book, I was now in a happy, intoxicated state of mine, showing all signs of someone who just had fallen in love. I was in a haze.

This was the story about how the relationship between me and Blade Runner was re-ignited. Before I went through this I thought that I liked Blade Runner a lot, based on my memories. I’ve always saved it a spot on my top 100 list of movies. But now I think it has climbed even a little further up.

And you know what? It’s not quite over yet. I’ve yet to listen to the three commentary tracks that came with the DVD and then there are all those other editions that I may or may not have seen that I should hunt down and enjoy.

This isn’t the end. It’s the beginning of a marriage that without doubt is going to last for the rest of my life.

filmspanarna
This post is a part of a blogathon run by the Swedish film blogging network Filmspanarna. The theme was “restart” Here’s a list of links to the other participants (who all write in Swedish I’m afraid):

Addepladde
Except fear
Fiffis filmtajm
Filmitch
Flmr filmblogg
Fripps filmrevyer
Jojjenito
Mode + film
Rörliga bilder och tryckta ord

Written by Jessica

December 30, 2012 at 8:00 am

23 Responses

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  1. Aaaaah. Blade Runner. <3
    Do you think Ridley Scott will make a new one? Or is it just rumours?

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1856101/

    Fiffi

    December 30, 2012 at 9:17 am

    • Well, what I got from the book I just read, a sequel has been discussed for years. The idea scares me as much as it excites me. On one hand I can’t deny I’m curious. On the other hand I’m afraid that some of the magic connected to the original can be lost in the process.

      Jessica

      December 30, 2012 at 9:20 am

  2. Hallelujah! And Hallelujah again!
    I´m with you all the way! :-)

    and please….no remake!

    Steffo

    December 30, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    • They’ve sort of remade it already with all those different versions, haven’t they? I definitely prefer it that way. I can’t imagine anyone being stupid enough to try to remake this icon. A sequel on the other hand is possible. And again: I have mixed feelings about it.

      Jessica

      December 30, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      • I didn’t expect them to remake Total Recall and yet, they did…

        Anonymous

        December 30, 2012 at 2:36 pm

  3. Fantastic Jessica. I’d like to do some more in depth viewing and reading on this as well. It’s one of my all time favourites and can’t praise it enough. I seem to be one of the few who actually enjoyed the VoiceOver though. It did create some continuity problems but I think it added to the overall noir feel.

    Mark Walker

    December 30, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    • Re: the voice-over, it’s not one thing or the other for me. I never objected against it when I watched it with voice-over. But I loved to see it without. As I said: I think the need for it is less now that we know the story so well.

      I can definitely recommend a re-visit like this one. It’s totally worth it. I didn’t feel as if I had an overdose. If anything it was an appetizer.

      Jessica

      December 30, 2012 at 3:39 pm

  4. Blade Runner, one of the very few movies of which I remember seeing a part of it when I was a small child. The beginning scene was scary!

    Since then I’ve seen it a few times more and it stays just as good each time I see it. It’s one of those movies which asks the big questions, something I like about most of Philip K. Dicks work. If it looks like a human, sounds like a human and smells like a human, is it not a human?

    Anonymous

    December 30, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    • Oh, my name tag has fallen off…

      carrandas

      December 30, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      • Ah, I figured it was you, knowing that you’ve got a taste for sci-fi. The opening is absolutely brilliant, but I can see why it was scary. Seeing the film again there were moments when I thought to myself that it’s bordering to being a horror film.

        Jessica

        December 30, 2012 at 3:41 pm

        • Oh, the scene where the blonde Rutger Hauer bot squeezes the chief engineers head to pulp. That was scary too! I suppose there was still some of the “Alien” atmosphere that got into this movie.

          carrandas

          January 1, 2013 at 4:32 pm

  5. Jiminy cricket, and you’re one to talk about ambitions… :D I’d have my work cut out for me with preparations like these. I’m quite fond of Blade Runner but I can’t say I love it to death. And remember, only six years to go!

    Sofia

    December 30, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    • Well I’m not too worried about the dates. 1984 worked perfectly well even after 1984 had occurred.

      Jessica

      December 30, 2012 at 8:08 pm

  6. Hehe, I also thought about your comment regarding Sofia’s post. We are all really into what we are into. ;)

    Bladerunner, I haven’t seen in ages. Only thing I really remember is that it was a little… sorry… boring. I’m gonna see it again. Should I watch the Final Cut? I only want to watch one and not make a project of it. ;)

    Jojjenito

    December 30, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    • Final Cut is fine. If you’ve seen it before I don’t think you need the voiceovers. I found a very cheap copy at Amazon that included the documentary. They’re giving out a 30 year anniversary box right now but if you’re not a fan it’s probably not for you.

      Jessica

      December 30, 2012 at 8:10 pm

  7. I’ve been meaning forever to read Future Noir. Now I think I’ll finally get around to giving it a shot.

    Dave Enkosky

    December 30, 2012 at 7:23 pm

    • Yay! Believe me, you won’t regret it. Awesome book, not only for Blade Runner fanatics.

      Jessica

      December 30, 2012 at 8:10 pm

  8. Nice post about a great movie. I don´t know which version I have at home but i´m getting closer to this movie in my ALIM team so I´ll soon get to know. This one I really don´t want either a remake or sequel of, it´s just as good as it is.

    filmitch

    December 30, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    • Thanks! No, remakes are not necessary. I think it’s ok though that they’ve made different versions of it. When it was released some compromises had to be made in last minute and I understand why they want to brush it up a bit.

      Jessica

      December 30, 2012 at 10:31 pm

  9. I’ve got to read that book now! (Future Noir) That sounds awesome…

    “The Final Cut” is definitely the superior version. It took a lot of tinkering to get there, but that’s the version that landed on AFI’s list. I definitely like it better without the narration, too.

    Dangerous Days definitely IS a hell of a supplement, isnt it? That’s a very very thorough documentary. I love it. :D

    Great post, its one of my favorite movies! You make me want to “renew my vows” too LOL

    Fogs' Movie Reviews

    February 17, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    • It IS awesome. You’re evidently as much of a fan as I am, so you really should read it. It’s like Dangerous Days, only ten times as much. :) Blade Runner is definitely competing for a spot as my number 1 movie. I hold it that dear.

      Jessica

      February 17, 2013 at 10:11 pm

  10. Great post! I’ve only seen The Final Cut, but I loved it. Glad I now know who to ask whenever I have a question about Blade Runner. :)

    Garrett

    February 18, 2013 at 12:55 am

    • Well… I’m not an expert tbh but I think most questions will have their answers in that book. It really covers everything! And in the unlikely event there’s something it doesn’t cover, I’m sure the Blade Runner fandom is ready to answer any question. They seem… dedicated from the glimpse I’ve had at their site and forum.

      Jessica

      February 18, 2013 at 10:55 pm


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