I recently talked with a friend who’s planning to schedule a screening of Blade Runner at her film festival. We discussed the important decision that anyone who wants to show Ridley Scott’s Philip K. Dick-adapting masterpiece faces: which Blade Runner? Seven different official cuts exist: many would instinctively choose the 2007 “final cut,” some might prefer the 1992 “director’s cut,” and a curious minority might even like to see the cut originally released in U.S. theaters in 1982, featuring the Harrison Ford voiceover and happy ending that fans now consider ruinous.
But now we have yet another cut of Blade Runner, perhaps the most unusual of them all: a “new” version made out of shots that, even if you’ve seen every official cut of the film, you may never have seen before. “Some enterprising souls have compiled a B-roll cut of the film, using all of the excised footage that was not incorporated in the previous cuts,” writes Nerdist’s Joseph McCabe. “There’s so much here that most Blade Runner fans have not seen before that it’s absolutely required viewing. I found it worth watching all forty-five minutes just to hear Edward James Olmos’ gruff Gaff hilariously exclaim, ‘I spit on metaphysics!'” Not to mention all the new views of the picture’s still-striking production design.
That running time, over an hour shorter than every other cut, effectively condenses Blade Runner into a short film. It doesn’t play quite like any of the widely seen versions of the film, even though it retains the hated narration and incongruous Hollywood ending of the American theatrical cut. But the elements that feel clunky, over-explanatory, and audience-distrusting in a two-hour Blade Runner somehow work better in this briefer rendition. (Certainly Ford’s voiceover, awkward though it always sounds, helps this trimmed-down story cohere.) You haven’t really seen Blade Runner, so many who love the movie feel, until you’ve seen every Blade Runner — but even now, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of them.
Colin Marshall writes on cities, language, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.