Has someone been fiddling with moviegoers’ memory banks? Seems that some Blade Runner fans are convinced that the ”director’s cut” now in theaters is a radical new vision. ”It was like a parallel universe,” gushed one Manhattan buff, ”the same story told with completely different words.” A group with him agreed there were new scenes, new dialogue, new insights.
The truth is, except for a 15-second shot of Harrison Ford’s Deckard character daydreaming about a unicorn, there is no new footage in the new Blade Runner. In fact, it is minus several shots seen in the original 1982 foreign-release prints and included in a U.S. home-video version: some gory violence (as when renegade replicant Rutger Hauer gouges his creator’s eyes and drives a spike through his own hand), and a tacked-on happy ending that shows Ford escaping to the wilderness (now the movie simply ends a scene earlier, with Ford and replicant Sean Young fleeing in an elevator to an unknown fate).
So what happened to other ”lost scenes” touted in the press when an ”original” print of the movie was discovered three years ago in the Warner Bros. vaults and shown in a few California theaters? That version did contain additional moments not in the new cut, including Hauer chasing and killing a Tyrell Corp. engineer, as well as a brief shot of bubble-encased go-go dancers in a nightclub sequence. Yet after Warner mounted plans to reissue this version nationally, it turned out to be not a ”final cut” but a sort of rough-draft work print, and director Ridley Scott gunned it down cold. Says restoration producer Michael Arick, ”That print included stuff Ridley wanted out. It was also missing the opening shots of an eyeball in close-up.” The real restoration feat in the new theatrical version is its immaculate sound, which had to be patched in some 80 spots — mostly to cover Ford’s excised narration. Though the star told Entertainment Weekly several months ago that he hated the original voice-over commentary, he has also said that making the film was such an ordeal that he has no interest in seeing the reissue.
No matter. Enough people are so eager to revisit Blade Runner that the reissue has grossed $1.5 million in fewer than two weeks on about 60 screens. A 1993 video release should also return a tidy bounty, and since fans are no doubt curious about work-print scenes and snippets of gore deleted this time around — as well as a hospital scene never cut into any version — there’s probably enough material to fuel reissues clear through Deckard’s day.