No longer an internet rumor, the long-anticipated sequel to Blade Runner officially has the green light. Original writer Hampton Fancher is working with director Ridley Scott to nail down a story — and the follow-up will likely include at least a cameo for the titular ‘runner’ from 1982, Deckard (Harrison Ford).
Based upon Ridley’s most recent return to his sci-fi roots — Prometheus, the rather ho-hum pseudo-prequel to his 1979 atmospheric horror film, Alien — I’m not very excited to see him arbitrarily trample over the enduring mystique of Blade Runner.
And, no, Scott doesn’t have the ‘right’ to
destroy expand upon that universe just because it’s his undisputed masterpiece — a visionary, genre-altering chunk of celluloid from relatively early in his career.
There’s a micro-industry dedicated to analyzing Blade Runner — in particular, the difficult road of pre-production (financing and attaching talent) and the actual trials during production. Two excellent resources for more information are the book Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner and the film documentary Dangerous Days (clocking in at a thoroughly obsessive three and half hours).
Just when I thought I’d seen it all — a new ‘making of’ featurette from 1982 surfaced. Intended as a promotional film for various genre conventions at the time (be they comic book, sci-fi, or horror), this short film is worth your time if only to enjoy the charming lack of hype and slickness that it displays compared to the entertainment PR machine of today (exemplified annually at Comic-Con).
From a humble Ridley Scott earnestly reading his cue cards to a few fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpses with futurist designer Syd Mead and visual effects guru Douglas Trumball, there’s much to recommend here. And, as a bonus, the disco-lite background music lets you know that — even though the 1980’s had officially started — 70’s-era cheese was deeply entrenched in the collective psyche.
As I’ve mentioned her before, the true creator of Blade Runner, author Philip K. Dick was ecstatically happy about the film as he saw it near completion. There’s a reason: Ridley got it right the first time. Before he started messing things up with the much-maligned “Director’s Cut”.
All that tripe Ridley says about Deckard actually being a replicant is just after-the-fact mental gymnastics. It’s as if Scott doesn’t even understand what makes the original film so vital — Roy Batty intensely feels the beauty of being alive (his “tears in the rain” soliloquy); Deckard is nearly unfeeling, an empty shell.
Here’s to the memory of a landmark film that tenderly showed the simple truth of what it means to be human — by being a replicant.
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