Production year 1982
Directed by Ridley Scott
Written by Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples
Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Daryl Hannah
One of the most imitated and influential movies of the last 30 years, Blade Runner's dense visual style and baroque art direction have been mimicked in so many commercials and pop videos since that it is possible to forget how original and startling this film was on release. The 'retro future' depicted by Blade Runner; in which astonishing modern technology sits alongside decaying architecture, in a Los Angeles where it rains all the time, now seems strangely prescient of our current fears about climate change and the environment.
Blade Runner is a science fiction film noir, which tells the story of a world-weary detective, a 'Blade Runner', charged with tracking down a group of rogue ‘replicants’ - artificial humans who have escaped from an off-world colony and are looking for their creator on earth.
The film is based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick, one of America’s most original and gifted science fiction writers. A number of his stories have been made into films including Minority Report, Total Recall and A Scanner Darkly. The title ‘Blade Runner’ is actually taken from a William Burroughs novella about a future healthcare apocalypse – a Blade Runner is a smuggler of scalpels in Burroughs story.
The film had a deeply troubled production history and has subsequently been released in a number of different versions - including not one but two directors cuts. These re-versions changed the happy ending of the original (insisted on by the studio at the time of production), took out the narration and restored a lost scene featuring a unicorn.
The film’s atmospheric electronic score was written by the Greek composer Vangelis – hot from his worldwide success with the famous soundtrack for Chariots of Fire.
Blade Runner confirmed the star power of Harrison Ford in the lead role of Deckard. However the role was originally intended for Dustin Hoffman who could not be contracted because of other commitments. Other actors considered included Gene Hackman, Sean Connery, Jack Nicholson, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Pacino, and Burt Reynolds.
Blade Runner briefly made a leading man of the Dutch actor Rutger Hauer whose mesmerizing turn as the replicant Roy Batty was the standout performance of the film.
Batty’s final speech in the film is one of the most memorable in modern cinema.
‘I've seen things you wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain….’