Ridley Scott Walks You Through His Favorite Scene from Blade Runner

The open­ing Voight-Kampff test that turns explo­sive, the flight over the high-rise rooftops and past the tow­er-side video geisha of 2019 Los Ange­les, Roy Bat­ty’s dying mono­logue on the rainy rooftop, Deckard pick­ing up Gaff’s origa­mi uni­corn: like any oth­er movie mer­it­ing clas­sic sta­tus, Blade Run­ner less pos­sess­es mem­o­rable scenes than com­pris­es noth­ing but mem­o­rable scenes. Fans have, of course, argued for their favorites, and if you have one your­self you can now com­pare your judg­ment against that of the film’s direc­tor Rid­ley Scott, who talks about which Blade Run­ner scene he holds in high­est esteem in the new video from Wired above.

Scott picks the scene when Deckard, Har­ri­son Ford’s hunter of the arti­fi­cial human beings known as repli­cants, vis­its the offices of the colos­sal Tyrell Cor­po­ra­tion that invent­ed them and inter­views an immac­u­late­ly put-togeth­er young lady, almost a vision out of film noir, named Rachael.

But that’s no lady — that’s a repli­cant, at least accord­ing to the Voight-Kampff gear he breaks out and sets up for the pro­ce­dure. “To Rick Deckard, it’s just a job,” says Scott. “He appears to be obliv­i­ous to the beau­ty and is unim­pressed by what he sees. At the end of it, he says, ‘How can it now know what it is?’ He calls her ‘it.’ So obvi­ous­ly she’s a race apart.”

But how to sig­nal that to the audi­ence, show­ing with­out telling? Scott speaks of mod­el­ing Rachael after Hedy Lamarr, the Aus­tri­an-born star from the gold­en age of Hol­ly­wood “who had a sever­i­ty which was spec­tac­u­lar.” Still work­ing at a time in cin­e­ma when “dig­i­tal does­n’t have a word,” he want­ed a way to dif­fer­en­ti­ate repli­cants from humans by putting an unusu­al “light in their eyes” (he ref­er­ences the leop­ard in the begin­ning of Stan­ley Kubrick­’s 2001: A Space Odyssey). Spe­cial effects super­vi­sor Dou­glas Trum­bull (who’d also worked on 2011) came up with a cam­era-mount­ed half-mir­ror that would, just often enough, tilt to make a “gold­en light” reflect off the reti­nas of Rachael and the oth­er repli­cants. Scot­t’s ver­dict: “Genius.”

Many of us would say the same about most oth­er aspects of Blade Run­ner as well. But as with any artis­ti­cal­ly rich film, nobody, not even the direc­tor, has the final say about it. Scott may have an unam­bigu­ous atti­tude about the best part of Blade Run­ner, but then, he also has an unam­bigu­ous answer to the sto­ry’s cen­tral ques­tion of whether not just Rachael but Deckard him­self is a repli­cant. Will Denis Vil­leneu­ve’s soon upcom­ing sequel Blade Run­ner 2049 hon­or, ignore, or work around that answer? More to the point, will it, in the full­ness of time, con­tribute as much to our col­lec­tive mem­o­ry as did the orig­i­nal? Only one test, of the kind that hap­pens in the movie the­ater, will reveal that to us.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

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

How Rid­ley Scott’s Blade Run­ner Illu­mi­nates the Cen­tral Prob­lem of Moder­ni­ty

Blade Run­ner 2049’s New Mak­ing-Of Fea­turette Gives You a Sneak Peek Inside the Long-Await­ed Sequel

Based in Seoul, Col­in Mar­shall writes and broad­casts on cities and cul­ture. He’s at work on the book The State­less City: a Walk through 21st-Cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, the video series The City in Cin­e­ma, the crowd­fund­ed jour­nal­ism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Ange­les Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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