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Ridley Scott sharpens up for final 'Blade Runner' cut

  • Story Highlights
  • "Blade Runner" flopped on its 1982 theatrical release but became a cult SF hit
  • Ridley Scott released his definitive cut of the film this month
  • Rutger Hauer, Daryl Hannah praise the film's wit, humanity
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By Mairi Mackay for CNN
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- "Blade Runner" is so firmly entrenched as a contemporary classic that it is hard to believe it was a box office flop when it was first released in 1982. A cheesy voice-over by Harrison Ford as Deckard and the stock "happy ending" of the first version broke the rules of the world Scott had created and left audiences unconvinced. It was 10 years before he was able to unleash the full effect of the visual spectacle he had created.

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"Blade Runner" director Ridley Scott talks to CNN

But the growing popularity of VHS tapes and DVDs helped the film gain a cult reputation and a loyal following. Finally, in 1992 Scott was able to make a new version of the film in which he removed the voice-over and switched the ending. "Blade Runner: The Director's Cut" is closer to Scott's original vision and revered by fans as a masterpiece.

In spite of his aversion to remakes, Ridley Scott released his definitive cut of the film, "Blade Runner: The Final Cut" at Venice Film Festival earlier this month.

Director Ridley Scott and actors Daryl Hannah, Rutger Hauer and Edward James Olmos spoke to CNN about "Blade Runner" and its enduring appeal.

CNN: Why is this latest version of "Blade Runner" the definitive version?

Ridley Scott: They asked me back. It was actually put to rest 25 years ago. We had ... less than adequate reviews, bad box office, so I was disappointed and seriously confused. I actually thought I'd made a pretty good movie.

We had to do a lot of screenings for audiences, which actually starts to produce a hybrid of what you originally intended. I think the film should always be ahead of the audience.

And then gradually it seemed to be finding a fan base, a cult base through ... tape -- VHS, and then through the emerging DVD outlets. It started to gain momentum ... and then it was inducted into the Library of Congress. I think in, like, 1990, early 1990s it joined an exclusive, small group of films that will be seen in 300 years' time, as part of America's best of the best of the twentieth century.

I was pleased about that, but also even more confused because I was thinking about the release, thinking we blew the release somehow, which kind of leads me to where I am today, because they said, "Do you want to do the original version that was originally intended?" and I said, "Well, yeah."

CNN: What did working on "Blade Runner" mean to you? How has it affected your career?

Daryl Hannah: "Blade Runner" was really the most thorough [of her films] in terms of its creating another reality; in terms of the detail, beauty and the magnitude of its sets; and of the costume and the attention to every aspect of filmmaking.

Even the screen test for the character was a three-day project, with lights and smoke and rain and everything. Now, they wouldn't even put that into one day of shooting, much less for screen tests. It was a completely different experience to any other that I've had. It was probably the closest to films in the 30s and 40s where they really put so much into every shot.

CNN: The film is [more than] 20 years old. Why do you think it has stood the test of time?

Daryl Hannah: I think it's Ridley's original vision. It really was an original perception of the future, and it has proven to be very accurate in many ways. As well as this, the story in the film is quite vague so it's left to the viewers' interpretation. Many people have different interpretations for what happens -- the film leaves that open. Of course, it's also just exquisite. It's beautifully shot. It's beautifully made.

CNN: Ridley has had the opportunity to change and re-cut the film a couple of times. Is there anything you would change about the way he portrayed your character, Pris?

Daryl Hannah: No. Sorry, no. It was so much fun! Just do more of it.

CNN: What does "Blade Runner" mean to you personally?

Rutger Hauer: When I got the part, I thought it had lots of interesting corners to it. The script had a lot of wit to it and so did Ridley. The whole design of the future, being a design of a past, an old future, I thought was brilliant. I immediately thought that this was something that I would really feel at home with. That was my third role in America but, of course, now I can easily look back and say, that was best role in film that I've done. How lucky can you get, to have it open again, 25 years later?

CNN: Is there anything you would change in Ridley's portrayal of your character, Roy?

Rutger Hauer: I'm not smart enough. I really wouldn't know and I wouldn't dare touch it. I think it's really interesting that there have been two versions before this one. I think this one is more honest and stronger than all of them. But that's just my opinion. I also think it's more human, which I think is very interesting.

CNN: Why do you think it's more human?

Rutger Hauer: It's more human because in his edit this time he has given more time to certain elements in Harrison's character. It's a two-edged sword because he's given a little more humanity to all of the replicants. See all the players have become more human, in a world run by batteries. It's kind of interesting.

CNN: What does it mean for you to be involved with "Blade Runner"?

Edward James Olmos: When we were doing it, I knew I was working with an extraordinary director, but like anything else you have no idea what the outcome is going to be. So, it was a classic in our minds to how things were being done. The production value was tremendous. Jordan Cronenweth, the cinematographer, was doing exquisite work.

But when it came out in the United States it was rudely received. There was a small cult following immediately, but it took the rest of the world telling North America that they had something special here for them to realize. It was ten years before the United States really locked into saying that this is really one of the best science fiction or dramatic films made in the history of film.

CNN: Would you change anything about Scott's portrayal of your character?

Edward James Olmos: No, I wouldn't change the character. I would just use him more.

CNN: What do you think it is about "Blade Runner" that resonates with different generations?

Edward James Olmos: I think it's the truth. The truth everyone finds inside artistic endeavor is what really keeps bringing you back. If you look at a piece of work that Michaelangelo did, when you look at a piece of work by Picasso and Matisse -- brilliant, brilliant artists.

"Blade Runner" has resonated and people have viewed it with more and more clarity and people are starting to understand it more and more, especially in the direction we're going. We're in the year 2007, this was shot with the understanding of 2019. Now, will there be cars that fly, like this? Will the world look like it did there? It can. Religious war could, with the usage of nuclear weapons, bring about this kind of an understanding. A very dark, a very fearful world where technology completely annihilates the human species. This is what's happening now. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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