Ridley Scott on Blade Runner: The Final Cut: The RT Interview

The director talks about the differences in the new version.

by | December 18, 2007 | Comments

It’s been 25 years since
Ridley Scott‘s
Blade Runner

helped usher in a new era of science fiction filmmaking. With the DVD release of

Blade Runner: The Final Cut
, Scott has once again revisited his
masterpiece, subtly reframing one of the most hotly-discussed films of all time.

In his book Blockbuster, critic Tom Shone summarizes
the phenomenon of Blade Runner as “one of those rare, radioactive
masterpieces that cinema seems impelled to throw up every now and again: toxic
to all who touch it at the time… but exerting a mesmeric, winking glow that only
increases with the years.” Starring Harrison Ford as bounty hunter Rick Deckard searching for androids disguised as humans, Blade Runner
confused critics and audiences upon its initial release in 1982 with its meditative plot and languid pace. But
Scott’s film earned an enthusiastic cult audience, one that drank up its
futuristic noir visuals and mysterious characters, and rumors of various cuts of
the movie that framed its action in subtle but significant ways.

In this roundtable interview, Scott talks about the
different versions of Blade Runner, the lack of quality in recent sci-fi
writing, and how the fanboys helped to champion the film.

With the final cut, how does this compare to the other
versions of Blade Runner? Is this your true favorite definitive
version?

Ridley Scott: It’s a refinement of taking me a step
toward what it was as a release print. We’ve removed a few things. Namely, the
biggest thing is the removal of the voiceover and the ending in the mountains.
The film should have ended with the elevator doors closing. We’ll be satisfied
with that. The voiceover was always toyed with way back when, even before I
started making the movie. I had been very impressed with the voiceover of
Apocalypse
Now
, with
Martin Sheen‘s voice. That was a great voiceover; it really
internalized the Martin Sheen character, who was essentially fairly low key and
didn’t say a lot during the whole movie. But he thought a lot, so I always
thought that was really great.

Why go back and do a new version of Blade Runner?

RS: I think because the film was damaged, in the
sense of when it was released 25 years ago, I figured I’d really got it right.
I’d already done Alien, I’d already done 2,000 commercials. I figured I’d
apply what I knew about Heavy Metal comics to Blade Runner. It
didn’t strike a chord because people didn’t know what
Heavy Metal
comics
were then. They hadn’t a clue.

The people who really resurrected Blade Runner was
MTV. I kept thinking [when watching music videos] on MTV, “Oh, somebody’s
borrowed some footage from Blade Runner, they’ve got to pay for that.” I
gradually realized that Blade Runner was a big influence on everything —
wardrobe, rain, blue nights, smoke in the streets. All of this stuff I poured on
that I’d learned from commercials. So the generation watching this on MTV
suddenly realized, “Oh, that’s cool.” Then in 1992, the wrong print was given to
a projectionist at a festival in Santa Monica where it was meant to run one
night and ended up running for a week, and journalists happened to be there and
said, “Hey, what’s this?”

If you were approaching this today, would you approach
it differently?

RS: Blade Runner was the godfather of all
these movies that occur today. What’s frustrating is that we’re short of really
great writing and great ideas.  Blade Runner was full of them. Now,
everything’s evolved into superheroes and it’s boring. If I see one more
superhero movie I’m going to shoot myself.

Is the lack of good writing and all of the silly films
that have been done the reason you haven’t revisited sci-fi?

RS: Yes, absolutely. There’s nothing really
original. Alien was a B-movie. Five directors passed on it before me.
Because I was into Heavy Metal, I read it, and thought, “Wow, I want to
do this.” I was on a plane to Hollywood in 22 hours. It was a B-movie and was
elevated to an A-plus movie by sheer good taste. [Laughs.]

When you went into the scoring, did you have an idea in
mind, or did you let Vangelis just bring something to you and surprise you?

RS: It was one of the best experiences I’ve had with
a musician, maybe the best. I’d finish editing at night and he would be
in the studio with his assistant. He would have been at this all day and put
something up. He’s in his infancy of what we’d call new age music. Enya came
shortly after that, and she’s brilliant. He understood the process of movies
brilliantly. He’d literally watch sequence after sequence and start to play with
it, and it was a completely organic process.

As you mentioned, there are scores of films and
television shows that have imitated Blade Runner. How do you feel about that?

RS: Amused and irritated. Where’s the originality?

Some directors would have put away a movie they did 25
years ago.

RS: Well, they kept coming back to me. I didn’t go
whining on the telephone. I get on with life and move on, but the thing kept
resurfacing and coming up and bopping me in the head.

Where was the demand coming from?

RS: From the fan base. I just keep doing things too
early, which is really annoying because they don’t make money.

Why did you want to have all the versions of Blade
Runner
available?

RS: I actually asked that question to the person at
the studio. He said, “You would be amazed. Trust me, they’re going to go through
the three frames that were removed.” That’s great that people do that. Because
I’m in the business, the last thing I want to do is see how somebody makes a
movie. But if I wasn’t in the business, I can absolutely understand how someone
would be fascinated by the tricks. We made it accessible on the set, and I don’t
know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Now that we know all the tricks, it makes our job more
difficult. It’s more difficult to make people laugh. It’s even more difficult to
scare people. Scaring someone’s the hardest thing to do, and that’s why most of
these scary movies are not scary. They’re sick, but not scary. There’s a lot of
sickness out there, of people who then sit there and watch it, which I think is
absolutely dismaying.

Do you view this final cut as the final vindication for
you about this movie?

RS: There’s no vindication. I’m perfectly happy
where I am.

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