What’s the old phrase—seventh time’s the charm? Even the humorless Ridley Scott can laugh at the idea of yet another iteration of his 1982 future noir, as he did last month at the Venice Film Festival. But unlike George Lucas, constantly tricking up Star Wars with more distracting whizgaggery, Scott actually has a bona fide masterpiece in his grasp, now fully realized.
One of the handful of timeless movies from an artistically poor decade, Blade Runner speaks to deep issues of personality crisis and phoniness; of course, it’s set in Los Angeles. But while most are quick to draw associations with Sam Spade, why not Joan Didion and Hollywood? In a doomy 2019, Harrison Ford is the chilly dispatcher of android “replicants,” many of whom have more soul than he does. The forefather of this authenticity paranoia is source author Philip K. Dick, who saw Scott’s film shortly before his death and approved. But credit Scott (and key collaborator Vangelis, who stirred the synths) for envisioning it all in a glinting, glitzy valley of self-regard,
where fashionable women in nightclubs wear veils and humanity mourns itself.
This new version adds nothing groundbreaking. Like the best revisions, it actually strips things down: Gone are some fakey wires and awkward stunt-double shots. As with the 1992 director’s cut, there’s no narration or happy ending. This final edition is freshly remixed, deafeningly loud and totally immersive. Blade Runner will always be a cult film, in that it takes the hugeness of studio spectacle and weds it to a decidedly unfun story. It sees past Reagan, Clinton and even Bush, but apocalyptically, not much further.
Cast and crew