Blade Runner is 33 years old. I had no idea. I mean, I guess I knew, I just hadn’t done the math. I first saw it at a midnight showing at the long-gone old United Artists movie theater in downtown Seattle. I lived in the neighborhood and went to a lot of second-run or late night movies there, usually by myself. I loved it. I loved the less-than bright and shinny sterile future that was depicted. The dirty, grimy over-developed and over-advertised future seemed more accurate to me than the other option of living in a white spherical pod and wearing a white jumpsuit. If you ever get a chance, see Blade Runner in a theater, on a large screen, until then, add it to your list and watch it some night. You won’t be disappointed. I know I am adding it back to my list right now.
Blade Runner is a 1982 American dystopian science fiction action film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, and Sean Young. The screenplay, written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.
The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 in which genetically engineered organic robots called replicants – visually indistinguishable from adult humans – are manufactured by the powerful Tyrell Corporation as well as by other “mega–manufacturers” around the world. Their use on Earth is banned and replicants are exclusively used for dangerous, menial or leisure work on off-world colonies. Replicants who defy the ban and return to Earth are hunted down and “retired” by police special operatives known as “Blade Runners”. The plot focuses on a brutal and cunning group of recently escaped replicants hiding in Los Angeles and the burnt-out expert Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), who reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment to hunt them down.
Blade Runner initially polarized critics: some were displeased with the pacing, while others enjoyed its thematic complexity. The film performed poorly in North American theaters but has since become a cult hit. It has been hailed for its production design, depicting a “retrofitted” future, and remains a leading example of the neo-noir genre. It brought the work of Philip K. Dick to the attention of Hollywood and several later films were based on his work. Ridley Scott regards Blade Runner as “probably” his most complete and personal film. In 1993, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
Seven versions of the film have been shown for various markets as a result of controversial changes made by film executives. A rushed Director’s Cut was released in 1992 after a strong response to workprint screenings. This, in conjunction with its popularity as a video rental, made it one of the first films released on DVD, resulting in a basic disc with mediocre video and audio quality. In 2007, Warner Bros. released The Final Cut, a 25th anniversary digitally remastered version by Scott in select theaters, and subsequently on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray Disc.