Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon0
Paul Sammon on Blade Runner: The Final Cut
With the pending release of “Blade Runner: The Final Cut” coming to DVD on December 18th from Warner Brothers, I took a few moments to talk with Paul M. Sammon, who aside from several years as a professional writer and Junior Studio Executive, is also the author of Future Noir: The making of Blade Runner. I want to thank Paul for taking the time to answer my questions.
GVK: How did you become involved with “Blade Runner”?
PS: Looking back 27 years now, I heard of the project back in 1980. I had a dual career as I was not only a publisher writer since the 70’s I was also a film journalist and JR. studio executive. I grew up reading the novels of Phillip K. Dick, and I was fascinated by them. As a result, I campaigned to be a part of “Blade Runner ” and I had Cinemafantastique and Omni cover the film and that lead to two years worth of coverage where I was in the meetings, on the set often, and 27 years later, I am still writing about it.
GVK: I have heard a few stories relating to why this DVD set was delayed for years, but what are the real reasons?
PS: It was really a confluence of influences. In 1997 “Blade Runner” was one of the first DVDs released but it was done with the primitive transfer technologies of the time. There were many legal and business issues over such things as ownership and distribution. In 2001 Sir Ridley Scott had the Definitive Cut 30% completed and the issues arose which delayed it. It was simply business but I can tell you the wait has been worth it.
GVK: There is some confusion over exactly how many versions have been made and how many will be on the DVD sets. Can you tell the readers about this?
PS: On the 5 DVD set, which is available with the collectors case as well. There will be five versions of the film.
There will be the original theatrical release as well as the international version of the theatrical release which has about a minute of more intense and graphic violence.
There is also the Work print cut and there is the Directors cut which is the one without the happy ending and narrative, as well as the new Final Cut of the film.
There is technically a 6th version that was not included with is the version CBS broadcast on television which has some cuts and changed dialogue.
The set is amazing as not only is it an amazing visual collection, but there are dozens of hours of additional material, and this will truly delight fans as well as film historian as it is a comprehensive overview of the film. There is also a 40 minute mini version of the film that is made up of cuts from the films.
GVK: There has been a lot of debate about Deckard being or not being a Replicant and in the age of cloning Replicants being artificial humans and not mechanical creatures as some of the source material for the film indicates. What is your take on this?
PS: I have always been amused by the debate Sir Ridley started. In 1982 I addressed this in Cinemafantastique as well as in the expanded version of my book Future Noir which will be released soon. Over the years, I was on set many times, saw the script for the film developed and the Replicant issue was never meant to be clear cut more of a suggestion. Sir Ridley saw the film having a theme of paranoia. In Deckards’s case the evil he is supposed to destroy is actually himself.
Ford and Sir Ridley did not agree on this issue as Ford wanted it to be clear that Deckard was human and Sir Ridley wanted a more ambiguous stance. It was argued that Deckard could not have had his spiritual awakening if he was a Replicant as this dour, hard drinking violent individual actually opens up and embraces a new relationship, even if it is with a Replicant.
I believe that there is a chance that he might well have been one.
GVK: There are arguments on both sides, such as the Unicorn, the eye flashes, and so on, but for me, I always questioned why if Deckard was a Replicant, he did not have the strength of one as if he was sent to hunt his own kind, you would have thought he would have been made on an equal footing.
PS: This was explained to me by Sir Ridley as he had a notion that Deckard was actually a new Nexus- 7 model, and was so advanced that you could no longer distinguish a human from a Replicant by any means as they had mastered the process of replicating humans. The Nexus 7 would also not have a four year lifespan and might live forever as immortality was also something that Sir Ridley thought about but would not have as many obvious physical advantages so they would not stand out.
GVK: There are scenes such as Holden and Deckard in the hospital that were cut from the film and while added in the deleted scenes were not restored to the body of the film. Were there other scenes that did not make either the film or deleted scenes of the DVD?
PS: No, pretty much everything is there. In the hospital scene, it did not really work as it had a joking tone to it and it repeated information that had already been established earlier. Many times when a scene is cut, people think that the Producers wanted it out, and that it appears on the DVD as that is something the Director wanted to include. Many times the scene simply does not work and that is why it is gone. For The Final Cut, pretty much every frame is available.
GVK: Over the years there have been rumors of a sequel, spinoff, or remake of the film. What can you tell us about what you have heard and do you think the release of the set will spur some progress on new “Blade Runner” material?
PS: in 1997 there was a spec script called “Blade Runner Down”, a parody on the title “Blackhawk Down” that made the rounds but never went anywhere. Sir Ridley has stated that he is not loathe to
do another one but the time lag between films might make it hard. There is a new rumor that one of the powers behind the film is soliciting sequel ideas to the film. My take on it is that often with sequels you get diminishing returns and that it might be a good thing to leave the film as it is. While a new film might be interesting I think the chances of them capturing the thematic and visual nature of the film might be as likely as a Nexus-6 with a 5 year life span.
The second volume of Future Noir: The making of Blade Runner will be released by Orion Books on December 13th. It will contain over 70,000 new words as well as a new interview with Harrison Ford. It can be obtained at www.orionbooks.co.uk
Look for “Blade Runner: The final Cut” on DVD from Warner Bros. on December 18th.