About Ghost of 82

A Saturday afternoon in September 1982; it is warm and sunny, like the last day of Summer. My Dad drives my younger brother and I, and two of our friends, into town and drops us off near the ABC cinema. We have planned to watch Blade Runner, the new Ridley Scott film that stars Harrison Ford. It isn’t being advertised as sci-fi or action/adventure, instead its billed as a ‘Futuristic Detective Thriller’. This is nearly thirty years ago- film news is based on magazines with production deadlines, there is no internet; we know next to nothing about this film, other than it stars Harrison Ford, it has fx by Douglas Trumbull, music by Vangelis, is directed by Ridley Scott. These are names that can fire the imagination of any sixteen year-old geek.  We buy our tickets. The cinema is one of the old picture palaces that in years to come will be closed, replaced by multiplexes; it is old and worn but has a character and soul, its huge empty spaces above us dwarfing us,  Screen One a huge echoing theatre of dreams, red-painted plaster with elaborate scroll work, like a huge elaborate cavern. The lights dim. After Pearl & Dean’s commercials, the Warner Bros logo appears. The film’s titles are simple, stark. Vangelis’ music is dark, foreboding, full of electronic menace. This is not like anything I expected. Then with a huge Vangelis boom of drums and thunder,  the opening vista of LA 2019 stretches out before me. And I know everything has changed forever.

10 thoughts on “About Ghost of 82

  1. DaveyB

    I saw BR in 1983, special screening at my Polytechnic’s film club. It truly blew me away and I have been obsessed with BR ever since. Also turned me on to PKD’s writing of which up to that point I was completely oblivious of.

  2. This is great! I could picture the interior of the cinema, especially after you mentioned old Pearl & Dean. I love Blade Runner. I didn’t experience it in the cinema until the Final Cut was released. Until then, I’d had to make do with my taped-off-the-telly vhs copy. I was only nine when it came out originally. But I’ll never forget the first time I saw it on TV. It was a late-night showing on ITV, and my older brother had told me I had to watch it. Thank Tyrell I listened to him. My first “official” vhs copy was the old narrated version. “Sushi. That’s what my ex-wife used to call me. Cold fish.”

    1. Cheers, thanks for the comment. I should warn you I’ll probably bore you silly regards Blade Runner on this blog, its my favourite film and is what I measure everything up against. I don’t watch it very often now – back in the VHS days, it was almost every weekend that my mate Andy and I would return to LA2019- I treat every viewing as something special, to be savoured. I don’t think its a perfect film but it doesn’t need to be, back in Sept 1982 when we in the UK first got the chance to see it, it was an absolutely unforgettable cinematic experience. Nothing since has come close. Although BR2049 possibly qualifies as the STRANGEST cinematic experience, as I could not believe what I was seeing (in a good way).

      1. 2049 was a strange one for me, too. I loved being able to see it on the big screen and hearing the fantastic soundtrack. But the first time I watched it, it left me cold. I didn’t feel it. The original always gets me in the feels. On a second viewing, it got through to me. I felt it and was deeply moved by it. I guess I was too hyped up for it. Anyway, the original will never be toppled in my opinion, but 2049 is a nice addition to the universe.

      2. I love 2049. Its up there. Its not Blade Runner, sure, but in some ways its better. It hasn’t got all the errors and mistakes that Blade Runner had; I mean the 1982 version, I sometimes watch that and all the continuity issues and that happy ending, Joanna Cassidy’s stunt double and the cables on spinner cars, what were they thinking? It was practically a broken movie. I loved it all the same but really, it was nowhere near as polished as, say, Alien had been. It sticks out more now that we have the Final Cut. I find it so hard to watch that 1982 theatrical version, even for old time’s sake.

      3. What do you think of the Ford “explaining” narration in the original theatrical cut? I quite like it, apart from the post tears in rain scene where it simply isn’t needed. Were the movie execs really that worried that people wouldn’t be able to make their own minds up about the film? And yeah, that stuntman-in-a-wig scene always annoyed me. Also Deckard’s dialog in the snake merchant’s shop never synched with his mouth movements. Another mistake. Do you think it was rush-released for some reason? Or just sloppy work?

      4. Well, that’s the damnedest thing regards Blade Runner, how rough it looks in places. In the 1982 version, we see Deckard meet Bryant BEFORE his encounter with Leon even though he sports the injuries from the fight with Leon (the scenes were switched around in the edit- look carefully over Deckard’s shoulder when he buys his bottle of booze and you’ll see Rachel standing slightly out of focus behind him having just saved him from Leon, even though in the film its BEFORE the Leon fight has happened) and like the snake merchant’s shop dialogue not matching the visuals, one has to wonder why or how the film got passed it that state. The film is full of all sorts of errors and failures in logic, and if it had been delayed a few months much of that could have been ironed out: who knows, with a Winter release out of E..T.’s shadow it might have been more successful.

        There’s some truth to the adage that from adversity rises success, and the film did have all sorts of problems during production, scenes had to be cut due to money and of course the producers got cold feet when the film was turning out so odd and intellectual (as opposed to perhaps the sci fi actioner they were expecting) that for a short time they actually fired Ridley. I often consider the films visual effects as an example- the budget for the effects was very low so Trumbull and the team at EEG had to be very clever with time and money, the number of effects shots was limited and carefully chosen for maximum impact, and the funny thing is their ingenuity brought us visual effects that are outstanding to this day and fully deserved the Oscar. And of course, the film would not have been what it was without the soul it was given by Vangelis. Blade Runner is really a happy accident, in some ways.

        Whereas in comparison, BR 2049 is quite perfect and exactly what was intended. Not necessarily a better film but its clearly polished within an inch of perfection and even has an indulgent running-time that gives it room to breathe.

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