User Input

User Input – The Test of Time Part IV: Blade Runner

I’m not saying this was a great movie, but it’s definitely a must see for anyone who wants to carry official geek credentials. It took me three separate tries (with several years in between) to watch the entire thing without falling asleep. Hint: don’t watch the director’s cut.

Like 2001, Blade Runner attempts to capture the latest in the cinematic style of its time, but moves along (slightly) faster. It featured music by Vangelis, which wasn’t a great artistic choice in my book, but it definitely fits the movie. The original cut featured Harrison Ford voice-overs throughout the movie which helped explain the story immensely. Ridley Scott chose to omit the voice-over in the directors cut for reasons passing understanding. Maybe he felt it gave it too much of a Dragnet feel and Dan Akroyd wasn’t available. One of the things I love about this flick is how many would be great (and formerly great) actors all showed up in one place for what they probably didn’t realize would be a B movie. Heavy concepts on the blurring of lines between human and artificial life were explored by such sci-fi greats as Harrison Ford, Edward James Olmos, Rutger Hauer, Darryl Hannah, and uh.. oh yeah Joanna Cassidy (OK, so Who Framed Roger Rabbit isn’t a sci-fi, but it’s still a geek favorite). Today, we’re still left with one important question: what the hell happened to Sean Young’s career?

It’s worth noting that as electric cars became more prolific in the last decade, there began to emerge a safety hazard to pedestrians (especially the blind), as these things started to fly down city streets at potentially dangerous speeds in almost total silence. One potential fix being taken somewhat seriously is have the cars artificially emit the same sound as Blade Runner’s flying cars when traveling at more than 12mph.

Techie’s assessment: aging like a cheap bottle of wine – still potentially enjoyable but will eventually turn to vinegar. Go watch or conjure your own memories of this classic and tell me if you think I’m wrong.

[“User Input” is the AtomicToasters Question of the Day™ asking you, the teeming millions, to answer our pressing questions.]

  • tonyola

    Sean Young got a reputation for being "difficult" – fights and arguments with directors and co-stars as well as just being weird. Or maybe it was having the biggest eyebrows since Joan Crawford.
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  • I love that Edward James Olmos was in this. I read somewhere that when he was propositioned to do Battlestar Gallactica, he said he had done Sci-Fi.

    Here is his quote: “The last thing I wanted to do was Battlestar Galactica,” he said at the exhibit opening. “I thought, ‘I’ve done sci-fi. I did Blade Runner, I don’t have to do anything more.” Olmos even said he put a cliché-avoidance line in his contract: “The first four-eyed monster I see, I’m going to faint on camera, and you’re going to write me off the show.”

  • So often the story behind the movie is much more interesting then the movie itself. Read Future Noir.

    Still some of the best worldbuilding of any film in existence. There's enough atmosphere in Blade Runner to terraform seven moons of Jupiter.

  • MrHowser

    Is it just me, or would a Blade Runner remake have to include Katy Perry as Rachael?

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    • Huh. Yup.

      • No. So much no.

        Cast Zoey Deschanel instead, she's great at acting like and android, and she isn't Katie Perry.

        I can't emphasize that enough, her not-being-katy-perry is crucial.

        • Deartháir

          I dunno… I'd totally do Katy Perry.


          You know, if I had to.

    • tiberiuswise

      I could go for either Katy or Zooey. You know, whoever lifted the restraining order first.

  • tonyola

    I've done traffic noise impact studies and modelling as part of my environmental work. You're right in that above 15-20 mph or so, tires are the main noise producers for most cars and trucks, and that's how the models are set up.

  • jjd241

    I think the arguments are about the same here as with 2001. There has to be some context. These films were made before the frenetic edits and CGI effects common today. At the time, they were both ground breaking in their look and more thoughtful in their story telling. Yes, both can be a bit full of themselves, but were well received in their day and still have some merit today. What current films do you think will seem relevant in 30 or more years? Will we be laughing at the effects? "How come they go more that 2 seconds without an edit or an explosion…so old fashioned".

  • I can honestly say that I enjoyed the movie all four or five times I saw it. But, no, I never sat through the dialog-less director's cut, and I agree with skitter that the tacked-on "snowy day" ending should be the poster child for "we had to fix it because the test screening audiences don't like sad endings." It just just ruined an otherwise appropriately dour atmosphere.

    Note: I read somewhere that the addition of the snowy day scene was the direct inspiration for the reworked-happy-ending subplot in The Player (in the "Habeas Corpus" film-within-a-film, not the film itself…although The Player was, itself, also ironically a dark film with an uncomfortably sunny conclusion).

  • TechieInHell

    I'm going to beat a dead horse here. The question here is "Does the movie stand the test of time?" For this movie, so far yes, but probably not in the long run. For 2001, no. Good God no. I'm not saying it wasn't groundbreaking in it's day, but 2001 was twice as long as it needed to be. BladeRunner is almost too long, too. The idea is that to stand the test of time, your visual FX don't need to stand up to modern CG, and your picture doesn't have to compare to full HD; but you should tell your story in a compelling way – then you've got staying power.

  • Number_Six

    One cool detail about Blade Runner is the tacked-on happy ending footage was extra footage from Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.

    I have to respectfully state that this is a great film when you view the correct version (not enough brefass scotch in me to jar loose which one that might be). I've watched it annually since it came out and I never get tired of it: it's beautiful to look at, disturbing, Rutger Hauer is in peak form (he was a way better actor than what happened to him after The Hitcher, and distopian futures are always the most interesting.

  • thelatinmrspeel

    I wouldn't say you are *wrong* as to me in tastes like movies, music and food there is no rifght or wrong, people like some stuff others hate…and in this case, I absolutely LOVED the film forst time around, and loved it every time after, when watching on TV. I agree with you that probably the voice overs would have make the film much better, and also in sadness as to Sean Young having got lost in time…maybe she went to have babies and a family? acting careers are not as easy to keep… I was so madly in love with woman…well, with rachel… not sure also about the turning into vinegar…there is a cult of followers here in England, but probably people my age (over 50) anyway, great photo…