In adapting Philip K. Dick’s somewhat whimsical novel to the screen, director Ridley Scott and screenwriters Hampton Fancher and David Peoples have crafted a masterful narrative combining elements of 40’s film noir and visionary hardcore futurism. On first viewing, it is the sheer power of Scott’s visuals which impress. Every frame is a delight, an artist’s vision. LA2019 is Metropolis, awash with rain, smog and human detritus, laden with a wealth of detail that almost convinces us that we are seeing the future. On second viewing, it is a different experience, the plot exploding with a sub-textual richness which forces the viewer to examine the very essence of humanity. Love, sex, death and religion are all here; vibrant, excessive and hopeless. There are no heroes in the future, only the hunters and the hunted. Blade Runner is, quite simply, a masterpiece.
The shooting script, page dated Feb 23rd 1981, contains a number of interesting ideas which never made it to into the film. Some dialogue has been removed in favour of those stunning FX sequences (costing 2.5 million in total!), a few midnight rewrites are evident, and of course the ending is not as intended following some post production interference when the film was badly received at previews in the US. The importance of Deckard’s emotions and Gaff’s origami messages are lost in the inane and illogical “open ended” replacement. Here are the diversions in the script and the original ending reproduced in full…
1 Scene 2. Holden interviews Leon using the V-K machine. He asks Leon to describe “only the good things that come into your mind. About your mother” Leon looks shocked, surprised. But the needles in the computer barely move. Holden goes for the inside of his coat. But big Leon is faster. His laser burns a hole the size of a nickel through Holden’s stomach. Holden survives this (we are told in the film). After watching the computer records of Roy, Leon, Pris, Mary and Zora, Deckard visits INT. HOSPITAL – NIGHT and talks at length to Holden in his hospital bed.
HOLDEN “Its all over, it’s a wipe out, they’re almost us, Deck, they’re a disease”.
2 Rick Deckard is ordering sushi from an elderly, and seriously short-sighted japanese counterman when Gaff approaches. Gaff speaks to Deckard in Japanese. Deckard doesn’t understand Japanese, thinks the man
wants a seat. The counterman translates very badly while Gaff refers to Deckard as The Boogeyman and says “After the slaughter at the steel shop they called you Mister Nighttime”. The Voice Over from Ford is a later addition to cover the change in ending. We don’t discover Deckard’s “memories” until Rachael’s Chopin wakes Deckard.
DECKARD “Me and my dad”
RACHAEL “Do you love him?”
DECKARD “He’s dead”.
Rachael indicates the pictures of Deckard’s wife.
RACHAEL “Do you love her?”
DECKARD “She left me. (pause) Went offworld. Wanted the good life”.
3 Deckard (still eating his sushi) sits in the spinner beside Gaff.
GAFF “I told Bryant I could take care of this myself. Just move me up. I’ll do the job, I told him. Five phonies. I just air ’em out. Bow! Bow! Bow! But no, he says. Bryant thinks you’re hot shit, smartest spotter, baddest Blade Runner. You don’t look so hot to me. Don’t even shave. Bad grooming reflects on the whole department. You don’t dress well. That reflects on me… makes the whole department look like shit”…”The skin jobs look better than you do! What’s the point of wiping out skin jobs if they look better than Enforcement? Pretty soon the public will want skin jobs for Enforcement. I guess you’d prefer that, hunh? That why you quit?”
4 In Bryant’s office, Bryant asks for the old Deckard magic. BRYANT “I got six skin jobs walking the streets”. The six has been crossed out and “FIVE” written over it. This is a typo, and the only reference to a sixth replicant. In the film, Bryant says “four” since he knows about the fifth (Mary) being fried. Having got that right, he then says “Six of ’em jumped a ship offworld”. Oops!
5 After Deckard V-K’s Rachael, Tyrell explains why Rachael doesn’t know what she is. The last bit of dialogue –
TYRELL “It’s the dark corners, the little shadowy places that makes you interesting, Deckard….. gusty emotions on a wet road on an autumn night….. the sweet guilt after masturbation”
DECKARD “Jesus Christ, Tyrell!”.
The last thing he says to Tyrell is “I saw an old movie once. The guy had bolts in his head”.
6 Deckard’s hygiene standards are described in the next scene, where he finds Rachael outside his apartment. The kitchen is a disaster area, dirty dishes overflowing from the sink… He rummages among the dirty dishes for a glass that doesn’t actually have fungus growing in it. He finds one that is only greasy, wipes it with a dirty towel (making it greasier) and pours vodka into it.
7 Deckard visits Holden in hospital again and describes Leon’s death.
DECKARD “I thought you’d…”
HOLDEN “You don’t revenge a machine, asshole! Your slicer cuts your finger, whaddya do? Punish it?”.
Then he guesses that Deckard’s emotions are involved
HOLDEN “The tit job, the one with the snake. You stuck it in, didn’t ya?”…”You got the feeling pal, not her. You fucked a washing machine… then you switched it off. So what? You cry when you turn the light out at night?”
Gaff and Bryant are spying on them via a monitor in Bryant’s office, and critiscising them for Metaphysics. To their astonishment, Deckard and Holden are getting somewhere
HOLDEN “Don’t you see what they’re after, who they’re looking for?”
DECKARD “No, who?”
8 Roy and Deckard fight in INT. TENTH FLOOR HALL – NIGHT. Deckard manages to hit Roy above the eye with a shot.
BATTY “What’s wrong? Don’t you like me? I’m what we’ve made! What’s wrong? Aren’t you a lover of Faster, Bigger and Better?!”.
Batty pulls a ten-penny nail from the wall and throws it to Deckard.
BATTY “That’s for you. Stick it in your ear and push. If that doesn’t work, try the eye. Believe me, it’ll be better for you than what I’m about to do”.
9 After Roy’s moving death on the roof, Gaff commends Deckard – GAFF “You did a man’s work. But are you sure you are man ?” (sic) “It’s hard to be sure who’s who around here”. The tin foil sculpture left at Deckard’s apartment to indicate that Gaff has been there and knows what we don’t counterpoints his advice – “I wouldn’t wait too long. I wouldn’t fool around. I’d get my little panocha and get the hell outta here. It’s too bad, she don’t last, eh!”. All the clues are there. Time for the ending…`
EXT. WOODS – DAY – 139.
Deckard’s car bullets through the woods in a fury of speed and MUSIC.
We BACK OFF IT AND UP. PAST whizzing branches, OVER the treetops, losing the car as we SOAR over what is suddenly a vast forest spreading to infinity.
Deckard’s voice over.
DECKARD (V.O.) I knew it on the roof that night. We were brothers. Roy Batty and I! Combat models of the highest order. We had fought in wars not yet dreamed of… in vast nightmares still unnamed. We were the new people… Roy and me and Rachael! We were made for this world. It was ours!
Trees explode PAST US in a rage of branches as we DIP and SWERVE and that’s when the spinner looms INTO VIEW zooming RIGHT AT US, then tilting and yawing off in hot pursuit with Gaff at the controls.
CREDITS ARE ROLLING, God help us all!