I was gobsmacked over the weekend; I was flicking through the channels and stumbled upon Blade Runner being shown- it was almost midway through the film, when Rachel is in Deckard’s apartment and she rushes out, leaving him alone, and he picks up the photograph she has dropped and… Harrison Ford’s bored voiceover came on. I’m not sure why exactly I was so surprised, but yeah, they are still showing the original theatrical cut of Blade Runner on television. Really, I can’t believe that original 1982 cut is still even a thing, other than in fan’s DVD and Blu-ray boxsets. Surely with The Final Cut being released back in 2007, that is the version of Blade Runner being shown to everyone on network broadcasts or streaming? Well, apparently not.
It does appear quite bizarre that Ridley Scott, Warner, the Blade Runner Partnership or whoever has any input into this kind of thing, would want any other version of Blade Runner than The Final Cut, or perhaps maybe the 1994 Directors Cut being shown- I’m not sanctioning a George Lucas 1977 Star Wars situation here, because this is wholly different, there’s all kinds of various cuts of Blade Runner readily available to fans and film historians. I’m not suggesting that the 1982 edition should not exist anymore, because it does and fans can get hold of that easily enough if they want to watch that, but even with my rose-tinted nostalgia specs on I cannot say that the original 1982 version of the film has any more entertainment value than the Final Cut edition. The 1982 film is really pretty broken. The internal logic is awry, the narration is awful, the visual effects aren’t all finished, continuity is a mess, the stunt double for Joanna Cassidy is a slow-motion wtf, the ending is the most bonkers thing of all; the Final Cut doesn’t fix everything but it fixes an awful lot and remains faithful to that 1982 version. Its more of a retune than a Star Wars Special Edition. Why shouldn’t that Final Cut version be widely seen rather than the flawed original?
I just assumed that The Final Cut was the defacto standard version of Blade Runner being distributed now but apparently its not. Its still 1982 for some viewers who may well be wondering what all the fuss is about, so rightly aghast at the tacked-on nonsensical happy ending that they might never want to watch the film ever again- which is why I find it a little bit shocking but hey-ho, it just goes to show that its a crazy world sometimes. To be clear, I’m one of the films biggest fans but when I tried to watch my Blu-ray of the theatrical cut a few years ago I had to give up before I got halfway through, its too rough, nostalgia only goes so far and there’s a better version out there. Maybe I’ll get a few comments that some prefer that 1982 version and fair enough, I’m sure some do, but for any new viewers coming to the film, its not the one to see.
Anyway, its the cinematic definition of a storm in a teacup, but yeah, I was surprised.