Blade Runner23 May 2016
I saw the director’s cut of Blade Runner at the Museum of the Moving Image earlier this week. This was my first time seeing the director’s cut, which clearly seems to be the superior version of the film. The missing narration, editing choices and overall ambiguity of the film serves the story much better than a more on-the-nose edit.
The screening also featured a Q and A with one of the original screenwriters, Hampton Fancher. Fancher was a hilarious personality, sharing many stories about the film-making process for this film in particular and in Hollywood in general. During the session, I asked him about the infamous scene between Deckard and Rachael, during their first intimate encounter. I asked whether Fancher had any thoughts about the discussions over the years about sexual abuse between Deckard and Rachael, whether the mention of rape had any bearing, in his opinion.
His response, paraphrased, was that there was definitely some evil stuff going on in that scene. The ambiguity was intentional, both from the writers and the director. They wanted to play up the sexual politics and add a seed of doubt about Deckard’s character. But he also admitted that in those days, women likely felt like they were aboard an all male pirate ship. The environment and culture of movie sets was very masculine and probably very unfriendly for women. He suggested that pulling off a scene like that today would require a lot more justification and thought from the film-makers than it did in 1982 when this film was released.
I appreciated his thoughtful and honest response to the question. While asking the question I gave him the option to decline to answer because it is a hot-button issue and I didn’t mean to put him on the spot if he wasn’t prepared. But he was gracious in taking the question seriously and sharing a thoughtful answer.