Originally a 1982 movie directed by Ridley Scott (starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos). Beautiful film-noir design and an intense philosophical/psychological story make it one of the best sci-fi movies ever made. See the Director's Cut, in widescreen.

In 1997, Westwood Studios followed up the movie with a computer game of the same name. It certainly wasn't the first game based on a movie, but thus far it's one the best. Many of the crew who worked on the game also did the original film (including Sean Young providing the voice for Rachel), and it showcases some fairly sophisticated game elements like multiple decision-based storylines leading to multiple endings (I've been able to find 8 so far, but I hear there are as many as 17) and seamless cinematic/gameplay transitions. Spanning 4 full CD's, it was huge by 1997 standards, and fortunately has aged very, very well. It's based on the movie a little too much (some of the story points, such as looking for the scale in the hotel bathroom, make no sense unless you've seen the movie), but still stands as one of the best computer games ever.
Blade Runner fits the definition of a seminal science fiction film. It has inspired countless cinematic and TV imitators and defined a view of the near-future so convincingly that a lot of people almost take it for granted that it will be so*.

While BR's theatrical release "happy" ending was typical studio butchery (production was late and over budget and the completion guarantors (Bud Yorkin and Jerry Perenchio) pretty much had editorial control by that point), it did feature helicopter footage of majestic Alaskan scenery that went together quite stirringly with Vangelis' end-titles score. I've seen the movie several dozen more times and I prefer the Director's Cut, but the "happy" ending is cinematically effective if a non sequitur.

The aerial footage was actually shot by Stanley Kubrick for "The Shining". Being so late and over budget, Scott asked Kubrick if he could help, so Kubrick sent over something like 200 cans of film with only the proviso that nothing used in "The Shining" be reused in BR.

Continuity errors occur so easily that most filmmakers pay a rather large salary to someone who specializes in preventing them. Nevertheless, there's one in BR so big I can only assume they had no choice but leave it in: the different versions of the Voight-Kampff interview with Leon. The actual scene is one take, and all subsequent references to it are from another take. The first time, Leon says "Lemme tell you about my mother." Every time Deckard later replays the video Leon says, "I'll tell you about my mother." I think that's the only vocabulary change, but intonation and phrasing by both Leon and Holden are quite different. I think that either they had to later reloop the audio of Leon's VK test to use during scenes of Deckard's investigation; or, they shot the later background versions first, and then filmed such a great VK interview scene (and it does rock) that they used it despite the discontinuity. I'd be very interested to hear another explanation.

*ADDENDUM: 6 Feb 2001, this story on BBC website:

The Blade Runner Director's Cut really... wasn't. The film was butchered to begin with in the original release because the artless souls at the Evil Corporation were worried much more about money than art, so the film was altered from the artist's vision in order to make it more commercially viable... lotta good it did, right?

The BRDC was much better, but it still doesn't fufill the potential. Ridley Scott didn't actually oversee its creation; he was actually in Europe when BRDC was compiled, and he simply communicated the changes he desired to an assistant. Hopefully someday there will be a real directors cut and a decent DVD release.

Blade Runner is also a 1979 novel/screenplay by William S. Burroughs, completely unrelated in plot to the Ridley Scott movie, though it is also set in a dystopian future. The Burroughs novel is about a future of rampant plague where doctors are virtually outlawed and heroic teenagers called "blade runners" smuggle them their medical supplies under the nose of an authoritarian government.

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" never uses the phrase "blade runner" - Ridley Scott purchased the rights to the name from Burroughs for the movie. It's not hard to see why Scott didn't want to retain the rather cumbersome title of the novella for the movie, particulary given that Deckard's artificial sheep, which figures prominently in the novella, never made it into the movie.

Bladerunner Soundtrack

"Most of the music contained in this album originates from the original recordings I made in London in 1982, whilst working on the score for the film Bladerunner. Finding myself unable to release these recordings at the time, it is with great pleasure that I am able to do so now. Some of the pieces contained will be known to you from the Original Soundtrack of the film, whilst others are appearing here for the first time. Looking back at Ridley Scott's powerful and evocative picture left me as stimulated as before, and made the recompiling of this music, today, an enjoyable experience."
Vangelis Athens, April 1994

Track Listing

  1. Main Titles
    Dramaticand atmospheric opener. "Enhance 15 to 23..Give me a hardcopy right there"
  2. Blush Response
    Deckard meets Rachel and Dr. Eldin Tyrell. The replicant test involves "capillary dilation of the so called Blush Response, fluctuation of the pupil, involuntary dilation of the iris"
  3. Wait for me
    Breathy seductive track with synthy bubbles
  4. Rachel's Song
    Haunting vocals by Mary Hopkin.
  5. Love Theme
    Evocative saxophone led track. One of the highlights of the album. Dick Morrisey on the Sax.
  6. One More Kiss,Dear
    Smoochy crooner performed by Don Percival, lyrics by Peter Skellern.
  7. Bladerunner Blues
    Long, melancholic instrumental.
  8. Memories of Green
    On this track, a plethora of buzzing sounds and beepings is underpinned by a melodic piano motif. This effect when listening is of being transported to some beautiful and sad city of the future.
  9. Tales of the Future
    Demis Roussos sings to Moorish sounds.
  10. Damask Rose
    The eastern sounds of the last track continue.
  11. Bladerunner End Titles
    Stonking Kraftwerk-like beat
  12. Tears in Rain
    "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe...". Fireworks, rain, Goosepimples.

The film is based on the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick.

On of the main characters in the film, J.F. Sebastian, lives in an apartment complex named "The Bradbury." The name appears over the doorway. It is named after the writer Ray Bradbury. During filming, the set location became known as Ridleyville, after the director.

One of the great questions posed by the film: "Is Deckard a replicant?". In a 2000 interview on a BBC television program, Ridley Scott says unequivocally that Deckard was indeed a replicant. There are so many pointers to this in the film that it makes sense. In the book the issue is a lot less clear.

This film (IMHO) is one of the most influential films of all time, marking every sci-fi film to come after it for a decade. (Think Batman, the Alien series, etc.)

The film was edited by the studio to have a "happy ending" for the protagonists, and a voiceover by Ford was added to help explain some of the action. In the director's cut of the film, the original ending is restored and the voiceover removed.

As said many times before, Blade Runner is one of the most prominent and influential science fiction films of all time. Particularly, its visual design has become one of the references in Cyberpunk. Every little detail in the film fits perfectly, be it thanks to careful choice or pure chance (Ridley Scott said about the presence of fans that they were there because they look cool), and sometimes in detriment of other factors, like for example, the plot.

As much as Blade Runner is a visual feast, it is quite interesting to watch in detail to catch all of its problems. For starters, one of the most striking sequences is totally pointless and out of place (which probably was known to the writers, but thankfully, they left it in and it has become one of the most memorable scenes in modern film).

Deckard comes back to his work as a Blade Runner. Bryant shows him the photographs of the replicants he has to retire. Then he asks him to test the Esper Machine, the device used for performing Voght-Kampff Empathy Test, which decides whether someone is a skin job. The new Nexus 6 replicants are so perfect that the Police is worried about the results of the test, so the Tyrell Corporation provides a test subject to evaluate the machine.

But, why? They have got the photographs of Roy Batty, Pris and company. And when Deckard finds them later on, he doesn't ask them whether they like their chicken roasted, he just tries to retire them.

Of course, Deckard's test on Rachel is one of the staples of sci-fi movies, and it has exceptional moments (the window blinds, Is this testing whether I'm a replicant, or a lesbian, Mr. Deckard?), but it isn't very coherent.

Further fun might be had at the wonderful disappearing replicant. Just try keeping track of the number of replicants left at various parts of the movie. This (and many other factors) has led to the big question: Is Deckard a replicant?. Everyone has a particular answer (I agree with Ridley Scott and disagree with Harrison Ford, btw).

Anyway, with all of its faults (and perhaps, thanks to them), Blade Runner is the must see for cyberpunk fans.

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