The Summer of ’82: Blade Runner

Fante’s Inferno is revisiting the Summer of ’82, considered to be the greatest movie summer for fantasy and sci-fi fans.

Blade Runner

Release date: 6/25/82

Original theatrical trailer here.

Directed by Ridley Scott; Screenplay by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples (based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick)

Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Brion James, Daryl Hannah, William Sanderson

When I’m asked to name my favorite movie of all time, my first response is “There are too many favorites to narrow down to just one. ”  But when pressed to just try to narrow it down to one film, I would have to go with Blade Runner.

I wasn’t able to see Blade Runner in the theater when it was released 30 years ago this week.  I first caught it on cable TV a couple of years later.  At that time it didn’t have the profound effect it would have on me as I got older, but I absolutely enjoyed it.  When I revisited Blade Runner in my twenties I was struck not only by how the film still held up for me, but also by the fact that I enjoyed it much more with each subsequent viewing.  I was beginning to develop an obsession with it.

In the Spring of 1998 I was taking a certificate program in filmmaking at NYU (one of the most enjoyable moments in my life).  Over twelve weeks of intensive shooting and editing, I struck up friendships with two of my classmates.  One of them, cinematographer Mike P., was (and still is) a huge fan of Blade Runner.   Our conversations reintroduced me to the film.  I bought and watched a VHS copy of the 20th anniversary director’s cut (letterboxed of course!) and my obsession began.

For awhile I was on the fence regarding which version I liked better: the director’s cut or the original theatrical version with the happy ending and Decker’s voice overs.  The director’s cut is definitely a tighter edit, and Harrison Ford’s voice overs in the theatrical version are a distraction now.  Maybe it’s nostalgia, or maybe it’s the fact that I want the film to keep going after the elevator doors close in the director’s cut, but now that I have both versions on DVD I tend to lean more towards the theatrical version.  When the Ziegfeld Theater in Manhattan screened Blade Runner: The Final Cut on 2007, I was hoping it would have included the original theatrical ending.  I grumbled walking out of the theater when it didn’t…

In 1998 American Cinematographer had ranked Blade Runner in the top ten most beautifully shot films of all time.  The write up included a frame of Sean Young smoking a cigarette and an excerpt from the original article in American Cinematographer from 1982.  I ended up buying a copy of that 1982 issue on eBay.  I grossly overpaid, but I needed to read about Jordan Cronenweth’s cinematography.  Then I bought a copy of Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner which I highly recommend for both fans of Blade Runner and film in general.

What surprised me the most when I revisited Blade Runner were the negative reviews when the film was released.  The story was compelling, the effects were amazing, and each actor brought his or her character to life.  As I got older, in spite of the ruthlessness of the replicants played by Rutger Hauer, Brion James, and Daryl Hannah, I was able to empathize with their plight.  They just wanted to live longer.

There’s no question regarding whether or not Blade Runner holds up 30 years later.  It’s on a different level from the other movies released during the summer of 1982.  This one falls into the category of timeless.  I give it five out of six replicants.

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One thought on “The Summer of ’82: Blade Runner

  1. William Estupinan says:

    Blade Runner and 2001. Top sci-fi movies of all time.

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