Blade Runner: Another forty-five minutes

This is new to me: deleted and alternate scenes from Blade Runner (1982):

It is a while since I saw the original version of the film, with its voiceover, so all I can do is compare this material with what I saw in the Director’s Cut, which lacks the voiceover.

The Deckard voiceover gives the film much more of a feel of a police procedural, a heavier noir feel. Although there are also some slow lingering scenes that suggest the more pretentious cult film.

The voiceover itself is quite useful at times, and contains some lines that succeed in sounding knowing and “hardboiled” but also more than a few that just sound lame, hackneyed and bored. That, and the effect of some of the other alternate and deleted scenes, serve to cut Deckard down to size and make him seem much less formidable. Also, much of the charm of the film lies in Deckard’s dialogue with minor characters, but this tends to be replaced by rather dreary exposition from the Deckard monologue. There is even a version of the scene in which Deckard and Rachael drive away north together at the end of the film which is purely Deckard voiceover.

We learn more about his ex-wife and even see a supposed picture of her. If Deckard is a replicant, as has become the favoured opinion, why has he had a wife? Or is that just an implanted memory? Does Rachael guess that his photographs of his wife are, like hers of her family, not genuine? She asks him at the end of the movie, in the driving scene, if he knew his wife long. He replies that he thought he did. Are these more hints as to Deckard’s true nature as a replicant?

Deckard uses diction and vocabulary in the voiceover that are squarely in the hardboiled detective style. Personally, I am glad this aspect of his persona was played down, at least in the Director’s Cut.

I suppose the question always is, is this canonical? For example, are we free to use this background material to throw light on the movie-as-released, or should we simply exclude it from consideration? The character of Gaff seems much more present in the additional material and appears actively ruthless, careerist and unpleasant, rather than merely enigmatic and neutral. The nature of Hannibal Chew, the genetic designer of eyes, is given more context but he is apparently not actually seen in the version depicted. We learn that JF Sebastian specialises in genetic design of hands for replicants. Captain Bryant, the head cop, is not allowed the dignity of being competent, as he seems in the Director’s Cut, but is presented as only holding his position by keeping embarrassing private information on people. Leon, one of the replicants, seems much more formidable and intelligent, and more nearly Batty’s equal. The scenes of Holden in the hospital after he has been shot by Leon are highly uncomfortable.

The iconic scene of Rachael failing the Voight-Kampff test and proving not to be human but only a replicant is quite well done, and clearer. Only one question (the “boiled dog” question) is actually heard. The telltale reactions of her pupils are not shown in this version, but her failure to react normally to the disturbing question concerning “boiled dog” is made clear. Rachael is beautiful of course, but her stunning walking entrance into this scene is absent in this version. Always a passive, feminine character, in this case she even lacks her initial queenliness before she discovers she is a replicant.

It is not at all clear why Deckard feels he has to tell Rachael she is not human, nor what game Tyrell is playing with her, nor why Deckard initially feels he has to “retire” her. Surely she is not in the same class as the other rogue replicants, but more in the nature of a new industrial test model. He tends to be offhand with her, and even allows her to wander around his apartment as he sleeps. Apparently he feels she is no danger. There is a lack of logic here.

His growing sexual interest in her is made clearer than in the Director’s Cut, in which his concern for her seems initially more altruistic. There are some lingering scenes of Rachael’s shapely legs, to put us in the picture. The love making scene in the extra material is rather different from both the theatrical release and the other extended version I have seen. It is hard to be sure, but there is a moment in the version in the material above in which he seems to penetrate her and she reacts. In the other extended version, more is simply suggested, although she ends up with fewer clothes on.

There is a little bit of play with God and Metaphysics in some of this material. Of more interest is a version of Batty’s murder of Tyrell in which more is suggested than shown but in which Batty’s nature is rendered more nuanced and extra layers in his personality are suggested.

I wrote at length about this film, in my older post, “Embodied Values: Hollywood Thinks About Sex”.

And I have also just discovered this:

This is Part 2. Part 3 of this documentary on the making of Blade Runner is also on YouTube but I cannot presently locate Part 1.

I suppose in the case of a film which grows in reputation over the years, more and more material will be released to feed the appetite of the fan base. There are other films that seem to have been cut, of which I would like to see the missing footage, but it is less likely in their case because nobody much cares …

(Hello to readers of Stephen Hsu’s blog, Information Processing.)

8 responses to this post.

  1. […] Further discussion of the film, based on forty-five minutes of deleted and alternate scenes and the light they throw on the film as released in the Director’s Cut for example, may be found here. […]

    Reply

  2. […] We learn more about his ex-wife and even see a supposed picture of her. If Deckard is a replicant, a… […]

    Reply

  3. Posted by Full-Fledged Fiasco on December 27, 2013 at 3:42 am

    “This is Part 2. Part 3 of this documentary on the making of Blade Runner is also on YouTube but I cannot presently locate Part 1.”

    Here.

    Reply

  4. […] to commenter, “Full-Fledged Fiasco”, who commented here on one of my previous posts on Blade […]

    Reply

  5. […] also on problems in interpretation of artistic output, I wrote about the deleted and alternate scenes from Blade […]

    Reply

  6. […] the light they throw on the film as released in the Director’s Cut for example, may be found here. And some comments on a 2007 documentary on the making of the film, particularly on the casting and […]

    Reply

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