For those of you that are unfamiliar with the film, “Blade Runner” is a Science Fiction film produced in 1982. It was directed by Ridley Scott and stars Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Ruter Hauer, Edward James Olmos, and Darryl Hannah among others. The film is considered by many to be one of the greatest achievements in Science Fiction cinema and is often classified as either necessary viewing or a cult phenomena (depending on who you ask).
“Blade Runner” went through an unusual development process both pre- and post-initial theatrical release. Poor test screenings and studio demands led to an initial release of the film which didn’t match Ridley Scott’s vision. In addition to Scott’s later edits removing and restoring bits of the film to more closely match his desires, different censorship expectations and requirements added to the number of available versions. The Wikipedia article lists seven different versions which all feature different elements, plot details, and overall running length. Part of the uniqueness (and charm) of “Blade Runner” is that each version is different in subtle or significant ways from the others, and the variations of the different films can lead viewers to make different conclusions about both the central characters and overall plot line. The variation makes the various editions of the film particularly suitable for repeat reviewing in order to compare and contrast conclusions about plot, character development, and motives
A recent post on robertebert.com does a terrific job at shifting the debate from the standard “is/isn’t Deckard a replicant” to “is/isn’t Deckard the villain.” While there is certainly interesting things to be seen in the the supporting arguments used to define Deckard as the actual villain, the comments of the post are as or perhaps more interesting as they provide proof of the fact that people are still genuinely interested and passionate about their opinions of a 32 year old movie.
May the debate last another 30 years.