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BLADE RUNNER (Director’s Cut)(director: Ridley Scott; screenwriters: Hampton Fancher/David Peoples/based on the Philip K. Dick novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”; cinematographer: Jordan Cronenweth; editors: Marsha Nakashima /Terry Rawlings/Les Healey; music: Vangelis; cast: Harrison Ford (Deckard), Rutger Hauer (Roy Batty), Sean Young (Rachael), Edward James Olmos (Gaff), M. Emmet Walsh (Bryant), Daryl Hannah (Pris), Joe Turkel (Eldon Tyrell), William Sanderson (J.F. Sebastian), Joanna Cassidy (Zhora), Morgan Paull (Holden), Hy Pyke (Taffey Lewis); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Michael Deeley; Warner Bros.; 1982/1992)
“One of the all time great visionary SF films.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

One of the all time great visionary SF films. The stylish futuristic film is based on Philip K. Dick’s novel “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?,” and is written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples. This review covers both the original version in 1982 and the director’s cut in 1992. Ridley Scott (“Alien”/”Legend”/”Hannibal”) gets a chance to correct the contrivances the commercial-minded studio suits forced upon him in the original and mostly restores the film by cutting out five minutes. It’s simply a case of addition by subtraction. By eliminating the unnecessary noir-styled voice-over by Harrison Ford (the studio wrongly feared it couldn’t be understood without this explanation) and the unconvincing happy ending in which blade runner Ford and replicate Sean Young ride into the sunset to live a fairy-tale romance forever. By these moves the film retains the spirit of the novel and moves into greatness as a glossy visual treat and meaningful social commentary film on the Reagan-era materialist generation of the 1980s. The forced happy ending just didn’t fit this dystopian film, and as a result it was a commercial disaster.

It’s set in the Los Angeles of 2019. Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is an ex-blade runner (special cop or bounty hunter who hunts down replicas), who is forced through threat of elimination to return to his position by his former boss, Captain Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh), to hunt down and terminate six mutinous androids who stole a spacecraft from an off-world colony and have returned to Earth. They are similar to humans except they are programmed to only live four years and they are incapable of emotions. The “skin jobs” have returned to question their genius creator, Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel), as they want a greater life-span.

The escapees are all of the latest and most advanced incarnation, Nexus 6. Holden (Morgan Paull) is a cop who uncovers that Leon Kowalski (Brion James) is a replica through questioning, but is shot dead by him. One unnamed mutant died in the escape, so that leaves the fiendish Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), the acrobatic Pris (Daryl Hannah) and the dangerous sexy Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) roaming the rainy streets of a depressed Los Angeles. There’s also a special replica, who shows some feelings, innocence and vulnerability, Rachael (Sean Young), and this beauty becomes the cop’s love interest and the person who has the most impact on his life.

Ford is as good as he’s ever been portraying someone who very well might be a replica himself; he does his part justice by making his world-weary anti-hero/hero character both sinister and sympathetic. He reminds one of a noir character from a 1940’s thriller. I can’t think of another SF film from the 1980s that comes close to this one in accomplishment, scope and ambition.

The great special effects are by Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich and David Dryer. Laurence G. Paull’s production designs are also noteworthy, as is the stirring score by Vangelis. It’s Ridley Scott’s crowning achievement, something he never came close to duplicating.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”