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‘Blade Runner’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
September 11, 1992


Ridley Scott
Harrison Ford;
Rutger Hauer;
Sean Young;
Daryl Hannah;
Joanna Cassidy;
Edward James Olmos;
M. Emmet Walsh
Under 17 restricted

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So why see "Blade Runner" when it's 10 years old, it's available in the video stores and it was on Channel 50 a few days ago? Let me count the ways.

The main reason is that director Ridley Scott has recut his timeless masterwork. In 1982, preview audiences for the movie were overawed by its wealth of visual detail, and they expressed confusion with the storyline. So Warner Bros., and a reluctant Scott, inserted narration and an uplifting ending.

When an alternate version of the movie was exhibited recently to positive response, Scott decided to make a final version he'd be happy with. The narration and ending are gone. Scott has added shadings to the love affair between Harrison Ford and "replicant" Sean Young, and he has sewn in new implications about Ford's past.

The fact is, this movie is great in any version. On the Uptown Theatre's curvaceous, jumbo screen, it will knock your socks off. Personally, I thought the final scene in the 1982 version -- featuring borrowed footage from Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" -- was tremendous. After a few viewings of the film, I even grew to like Ford's sluggish, rather superfluous narration. But at the same time, I don't miss what has been cut from the new version. The overall effect is so beautifully wrought, a few details aren't going to bring things crashing down.

The story, adapted from Philip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?," remains the same. It's set in Los Angeles, 2019, where genetically engineered humans known as replicants have been created as slave labor for the planet colonies. But these replicants (with a life span of four years) have been causing revolts and are now forbidden on Earth.

After four Nexus 6 replicants (virtually indistinguishable from humans) commandeer a space shuttle to Earth, replicant hunter (or "blade runner") Ford is dispatched to "retire" them. While gunning for Brion James, Joanna Cassidy, Daryl Hannah and Rutger Hauer, Ford meets and falls in love with Young, another replicant.

The film is great on every level: the poignant screenplay about man's futile quest for immortality; Scott's tremendous direction; the incredible, futuristic sets designed by Lawrence G. Paull, Syd Mead and others; the phenomenal special effects; and the touching performances, especially from Hauer, a replicant fighting against the ebbing of his life. His swan song is one of the most touching in modern movie history.

"I've seen things," he says, recalling the cosmic wonders he has witnessed in his lifetime. Then, clutching a dove in his hand, he remarks wistfully, "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."

Thanks to Scott's dedication, as well as the support of "Blade Runner" fans, these moments don't have to be lost.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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