It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?
“The script took a year of rewrites to get ready,” Tom Shone wrote of “Blade Runner” in “Blockbuster: How Hollywood Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Summer” (2004). “Fancher had done a good job in fleshing out Dick’s paranoiac novel, but it still read like a stage play: there were few exteriors, and the world his characters inhabited remained unexplored. One day…Scott asked him, ‘Hampton, this world you’ve created—what’s outside the window?’ Hampton admitted that he hadn’t a clue. Scott suggested he read ‘Heavy Metal’, the same comic Scott had used as inspiration on ‘Alien.'”
“The next day, Fancher came back in all excited, going ‘Yeah, let’s go outside the fucking window!”‘ Fancher said Scott’s “imagination is like a fucking virus, keeps growing and spreading and mutating. Ridley’s mind is almost too fast for his own good; very often, it pulled ahead of himself, at great speed. Then he’d tumble over it, ideas were pouring out of him so fast.”
So, “Blade Runner,” you’ve seen it? In anticipation of the big-screen presentation of Scott’s latest “final” version, I tried and tried to draw a consistent impression of the matrices of seeing the film in different versions in different formats on different devices and inside different edifices. Without watching more than one version again, with or without Scott’s inspiringly no-nonsense commentary. But Fancher’s testimony put it together, that palpable, sensual joy of notion-made-manifest in every squiggle-filled frame: what is “Blade Runner,” what is it about, what does it mean? It is a manifestation of Ridley Scott’s brain, it’s about Ridley Scott, it means that Ridley Scott has a singularly feverish brain, still uncontained at seventy-nine, where his name appears on a deluge of projects each season as executive producer or producer, such as Kenneth Branagh’s “Murder on the Orient Express” redo, due in November and Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049,” due in October, and who, as director, has multiple projects mooted, not limited to his second sequel to “Alien,” “Alien: Covenant,” which opens on May 19 (and a likely twenty-minutes-longer director’s cut to follow a few months later). “Blade Runner” lives, Ridley Scott thrives. (Ray Pride)
“Blade Runner: The Final Cut” opens Friday, March 24 at the Music Box.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.