The Art of Making Blade Runner: See the Original Sketchbook, Storyboards, On-Set Polaroids & More

There’s nev­er been a bad time to revis­it Blade Run­ner, but now, with all the news about the in-devel­op­ment Blade Run­ner 2 break­ing even as you read this, it seems like an espe­cial­ly appro­pri­ate time to go deep­er into Rid­ley Scot­t’s piece of ground­break­ing, Philip K. Dick-adapt­ing cyber­punk cin­e­ma. What­ev­er you think of the prospect of a sequel, if you call your­self a Blade Run­ner fan, you’ll nev­er turn down a chance for anoth­er look behind the scenes of the orig­i­nal.

Hence our offer­ing today of BBC crit­ic Mark Ker­mod­e’s doc­u­men­tary above, On the Edge of Blade Run­ner, and, via Fla­vor­wire, a selec­tion of orig­i­nal sto­ry­boards from the film. Few sci­ence-fic­tion movies hold up so well aes­thet­i­cal­ly after 32 years, but only because few sci­ence-fction movies had so much sheer work put into their design — we are still, I imag­ine, assured a steady stream of pro­duc­tion mate­ri­als to gaze upon for a long time to come.

blade runner storyboard

In recent years, for instance, Sean Young, who played the repli­cant Rachel, released her Polaroid pho­tos from the film’s set. And if you missed it the first time around, you’ll want to cir­cle back to our post fea­tur­ing a freely read­able online ver­sion of Blade Run­ner Sketch­book, a col­lec­tion of over 100 pro­duc­tion draw­ings and pieces of art­work that orig­i­nal­ly came out along­side the film. (See it above.)

blade runner polaroid

And what­ev­er direc­tion Blade Run­ner 2 takes, promis­ing or less so, we’ll all hear a lot about it in the com­ing months. So to bal­ance out the com­ing wave of pro­mo­tion for the sec­ond one, why not watch a lit­tle of the pro­mo­tion of the first one in the form of the con­ven­tion reel below (pro­duced not least to counter all the bad press the pro­duc­tion had drawn at the time), which con­tains inter­views with some of those respon­si­ble for Blade Run­ner’s most endur­ing qual­i­ties: Rid­ley Scott, “visu­al futur­ist” Syd Mead, and visu­al effects design­er Dou­glas Trum­bull. If all three of those guys work on the sequel, well, maybe I’ll start get­ting excit­ed.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

The Blade Run­ner Pro­mo­tion­al Film

Blade Run­ner: The Pil­lar of Sci-Fi Cin­e­ma that Siskel, Ebert, and Stu­dio Execs Orig­i­nal­ly Hat­ed

The Blade Run­ner Sketch­book: The Orig­i­nal Art of Syd Mead and Rid­ley Scott Online

Philip K. Dick Pre­views Blade Run­ner: “The Impact of the Film is Going to be Over­whelm­ing” (1981)

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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