Monday, January 19, 2015

Don't Make a Scene: Blade Runner

The Story: There are a lot of problems with Blade Runner. For instance, what does the term "Blade Runner" have to do with anything? Why did director Ridley Scott decide that he liked the androids better than the human beings in the story, thus tilting it so out-of-whack that there are some folks who swear up-and-down that the cop-assassin-hero is a "replicant" himself? (Exactly what sense does that make, both in the story and in a metaphorical sense?) But everyone can agree that the ending is perfection (well...except that if, in this future society,* all animals—like owls, snakes—are extinct enough that they need to be replicated artificially, where did the dove come from?).

Oh, and the narration. The latest "version" of Blade Runner--"The Final Cut" (yeah, sure) has no narration at all. Most of it (written primarily by Roland Kibbee) was unnecessary—pointless and only reinforcing information that could be gleaned in context from the film. But, to me, the last narration "worked" and so we're including it in the scene (as a bonus, we're including David Webb Peoples' superior narration** post-asterisk and in the "workprint" video).

The Set-up: "Blade Runner" Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) has been called out of retirement by the LAPD to destroy four fugitive replicants--androids with a life-expiration of four years--who have murdered in a desperate search to gain more life-time. After "retiring" three of the four, Deckard more than meets his match in the desperate leader, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). As we join the scene, Deckard has made a desperate roof-top leap to escape death, and hangs precariously from a beam, as Batty looms over him. 


ROY BATTY: Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it means to be a slave.
Deckard can no longer hang on.
As he loses his grip, he spits at Batty,
...who "like lightning" grabs Deckard by the wrist
...and pulls him up to the roof, throwing him down.
Then, sits down in front of the exhausted Deckard, holding in his hand, a dove.
ROY BATTY:  I've seen things you people wouldn't believe.
ROY BATTY: Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
ROY BATTY: I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those...moments will be lost, in time... like... tears.... in rain.
(He smiles)
ROY BATTY: die..
(He smiles, fades, and drops his head. The dove flies free)
DECKARD(VO): I don't know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last few moments, he loved life more than he ever had before.
DECKARD(VO): Not just his life. Anybody's life. My life. All he'd wanted were the same answers the rest of us want.
DECKARD(VO): Where do I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got?
DECKARD(VO): All I could do was sit there and watch him die.
GAFF (yelling from the adjacent roof-top): You've done a man's job, sir! I guess you're through, huh?
DECKARD: Finished.
GAFF(He throws Deckard's gun to him, walks away--stops and turns back): It's too bad she won't live! But then again, who does?

Pictures by Jordan Cronenweth and Ridley Scott

Blade Runner: The Final Cut is available on DVD (in many versions) on Warner Home Video.
For John

The first Theatrical version (1982)

Scott's "Final cut" (2007)

The "Workprint" version

* By the way, Blade Runner takes place in the year 2019.

** DECKARD (V.O.): I watched him die all night. It was a long, slow thing and he fought it all the way. He never whimpered and he never quit. He took all the time he had... as though he loved life very much... every second of it... even the pain. Then he was dead. 

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