Four decades after the premiere of two of the most influential works in the history of world cinema

All in bladerunner they are obsessed with mortality, not just replicants. Initially reluctant, Scott himself only agreed to direct the film after Scott’s older brother Frank died of cancer, thinking it would be a ‘quick emotional fix’.

The accurate paragraph is part of an interesting analysis available on the British Film Institute (BFI) website. One of the many analyses, one of the thousands of approaches to the film neo noir by excellence.

Beyond the artistic qualities, which it has and there are many, it could be said that Blade Runner is one of the five most influential films in history. Forty years have just passed since its release and, due to those things that we human beings admire for the decimal system, it opens the door to the analysis of that impact.

A notable coincidence that serves as a period painting of a very particular moment in the film industry is that, the day of the premiere, that June 25, 1982, coincided with the arrival in theaters of another key and influential film: The Thing. (The Thing, called in Argentina The Enigma of Another World), supreme work of John Carpenter.

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The film tells the story of a group of American researchers in Antarctica who encounter The Thing

And the two productions suffered the same (bad) luck: they were a box office failure, with negative reviews and overshadowed by that worldwide boom that had invaded theaters exactly a month before: ET, The Extraterrestrial, to whom a close-up was dedicated in this same section a few weeks ago.

Talking about the premiere of Blade Runner and The Thing on the same day is to complement that same context: Steven Spielberg had managed to become the young man accepted by the powerful Hollywood industry and, pardon the metaphor, its producer sharks.

Ridley Scott was, even and beyond the interesting productions to his credit, that English director trying to gain a foothold in Los Angeles.

Carpenter, on the other hand, had made The Thing his first film backed by a major Hollywood studio. Obviously, the meager box office results had a major impact at that point in his career.

With The Thing, Carpenter raises terror one notch higher within the framework of science fiction. Scott himself had left an extraordinary milestone to open the new decade with Alien, released in 1979. A claustrophobic and oppressive story with an entity that appropriates a crew of a cargo transport ship. The survival in the framework of the war of multinational companies. The world of the end of the century made them omnipresent and the cinema made them protagonists.

Carpenter brings that claustrophobic horror sci-fi concept to a research group in Antarctica. But with an impeccable script he forces the story into uncontrolled paranoia. The invading organism could be in anyone. An apology for a society that was born after a decade crossed by the last death rattle of the Cold War. Too much for a spectator who had already opened his arms to the good and empathetic alien with the human race.

The purpose of the monster is to be monstrous, to be repellent. That’s what puts you on the side of human beings. I had no problem with that. Critics thought the film was boring and left no hope. That was the part they really insisted on. Hopelessness is built into the story. It is inevitable, but that is not necessarily negative, Carpenter commented in one of the many interviews about his work.

Both he and Scott also belatedly achieved that recognition thanks to the context of the times that, before, had played against them. The explosion of the home video business – the VHS boom – allowed continuous access to these works with a different approach, with a more positive look and discovering the immense values ​​behind each one of them.

Androids and electric sheep

It took at least a decade to begin to feel the impact of Blade Runner on popular culture. Born from the adaptation of a complex novel by Philip K Dick (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, 1968), as in almost every masterpiece, different variables converged that allowed it to be elevated as a complex discourse, plausible for analysis in several layers of reading.

It is impressive to connect with that first black plate that appears as an introduction to the action while the chords of Vangelis play: Los Angeles, November 2019. The film traced an aesthetic look at the dystopian future like never before. Probably heir to the concept of post-industrial society of Metropolis, Scott’s vision is right in the world dominated by corporations, suffocated by screens and with hyperpopular and multiethnic cities.

But the biggest reference was transforming the film into a black policeman giving rise to the concept of neo noir. Harrison Ford, that Rick Deckard, a Blade Runner, a retired policeman, ex-replicant hunter, is a postmodern Philip Marlowe. Scott’s vision endured over time and almost no film director could (or can) escape the tentacles of the static concept of him to develop stories in dystopian cities.

Everything works perfectly: the special effects, the contrasts of light, the ghostly neon on the humidity and smoke of the streets, the composition of the wide shots, Vangelis’s music like a score from the future. All. And it continues to work.

At the end of the editing period, the director found himself with an excess of budget and time, compared to what was scheduled with the studios. Excess that allows the producers to intervene in the final cut of the film. Faced with the very poor results of the test screenings (hearing tests) they cut a scene in which Harrison Ford’s character dreamed of a unicorn and added a story in off of the same Ford that gave him a closer approach to the black police officer but removed ambiguity from Scott’s story. They also added a brighter epilogue (in contrast, even, with the tone of the entire film)

Ford and the director had discussed a lot about the profile they wanted to convey with the main character and his dilemma: hunt or empathize with the replicants? Who achieved the most humane attitudes? And most importantly: Is Rick Deckard a replicant? For Scott, yes; so that scene with the unicorn might suggest that he had implanted memories. Harrison Ford did not share that vision, it seemed too negative and he wanted a human detective so that the public could identify.

In 1997, the original director’s cut without the voice over came to theaters. off, with the excised scenes and with that abrupt and ambiguous ending. In 2017 the definitive cut of Ridley Scott appeared.

The two versions of the film are available today to watch in streaming, on the HBO Max platform. It is a good exercise of contribution to the continuous analysis to look at both visions. And, of course, draw your own conclusions.

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