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10/9/17

BLADE RUNNER: THE THEATRICAL CUT - REVIEW


Before Blade Runner enjoyed a revival with a Director's Cut released 10 years after its original release in 1982, it was nowhere near the masterpiece it is now recognised to be. The film underperformed at the box-office, its more optimistic take not resonating with audiences.

Indeed, this is the only version of the film with a happy ending of sorts as Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) and replicant love interest Rachael (Sean Young) leave Los Angeles together after fellow Blade Runner Gaff (Edward James Olmos) spares her life. The infamous voice-over unconvincingly explains to us that Gaff just assumed she would only live for 4 years but luckily Tyrell told Deckard otherwise off-camera. Most people, including Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford, would agree that this voice-over, which pops up pretty randomly and abruptly, sometimes stating the blindingly obvious, was a mistake. Its content, delivery and placement just don't work. It constantly interrupts Vangelis' beautiful score and it doesn't even help sell the already pretty perfect film noir vibe. This is arguably the least effective version of the film out there along with the Workprint since even the International Cut bumps up the violence in several key scenes for the better and the versions after that feel altogether more polished both in terms of story and visuals.

Rick Deckard is not meant to be a replicant in this version even if his moral lack of humanity is questioned whenever he encounters the replicants he's been tasked with "retiring", including Rachael herself. Gaff's final origami creature, a unicorn, therefore doesn't hint at some planted memory but rather at Rachael's unique nature and inevitable fate. This would have been a decent mysterious ending had we not then cut to a silly voice-over spelling everything out for us and some out-of-place shots lifted directly, and literally, from leftover The Shining footage Stanley Kubrick allowed to be used. Deckard not being a replicant probably makes a lot more sense seeing as he doesn't seem to be gifted with extra strength or agility and this is a subtext that would always be there regardless. Had this version omitted the voice-over and presented a more appropriate and impactful final shot, perhaps of an L.A. at dawn with Deckard's spinner flying off slowly into the red sky as the credits roll, this would have certainly been a worthy alternative to The Director's Cut.

As it stands, the Theatrical Cut does not hold up quite as well as the later versions of the film but fans of Blade Runner should definitely check it out as it was the original and some might prefer the "Deckard is definitely human" scenario.

Fascinating first attempt.

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