I first watched Blade Runner in about 1992 around the time of the Director’s Cut from Ridley Scott. It was an interesting revival for both the film and for me. I was aware of its imagery, I wasn’t sure if I had really seen the original theatrical release but it was part of my DNA on some level. For those who don’t know, the theatrical release from 1982 featured the sardonic voice over from Harrison Ford and the ending was a blunt romantic one borrowing outtakes from Kubrick’s The Shining. Panned on release, largely buried thanks to E.T. but found a new life thanks to VHS. And then came the Director’s Cut in 1992, which did away with the voice over, used outtakes of a unicorn from Scott’s Legend and utterly changed the ending to something more open ended and ambiguous.
Interestingly, the beautiful Vangelis soundtrack was also trapped in some form of copyright hell and didn’t receive its formal release on CD till the early 90s as well. So, for me, my Blade Runner baseline is that Director’s Cut version.
Blade Runner is a very special film for me, one I have watched countless times all the way up to the Final Cut from 2007. I studied it during a film studies elective on Ridley Scott films during university in 1996. From the breathing hums of sound in Deckard’s appartment, to the weird reflective light in character’s eyes, the fug of smoke from those cigarettes, the existential questions of what it means to live and dialogue such as Tyrell saying to Roy Batty that “the light that burns twice as bright burns half as long and you have burned so very brightly Roy, revel in your time!”. Its a film which exists in the higher echelons of my collection and one I hope to watch many more times hence.
So, here we are in 2017 and facing Blade Runner 2049, intriguingly the story is set 30 years in the future (the original Blade Runner was set in 2019). I’ve been burned by so many trailers in the past, but the official teaser immediately took me right back to 1992 and I was so pleased with the ambiguous feel to it, but also the question of which Blade Runner version is this following. Only time will tell.
Denis Villeneuve is a major film making talent. Someone who understands the language of cinema and film. You only have to watch films such as Sicario or Arrival to get a glimpse of what he is capable of. The first film of his I saw was Enemy, which starred Jake Gyllenhaal as man who is haunted by a doppelganger. A bonkers, but clever film that flirts with reality and perception, I can only imagine what Villeneuve will bring to the Blade Runner universe. And of course, in an actor such as Ryan Gosling we have an intriguing proposition.
It will certainly be a gorgeous looking film, Roger Deakins is the best in the business and has worked with Villeneuve on a number of films together.
All the right ingredients are there (including Ridley Scott producing and Hampton Fancher returning as writer), but I’m hoping that this isn’t a lazy JJ Abrams approach to rebooting, I do not want to see another Force Awakens please…instead I hope this extends and pursues its own path forward.
These films should not be like any other film…