Ridley Scott's Blade Runner was not a hit at the box office or even critically acclaimed when it was first released in 1982. But over the years, this darkly futuristic depiction of a dystopian society has been hugely influential on subsequent films thanks to its visually arresting production, nuanced themes and film noir sensibilities.
The new four-disc Blade Runner 30th Anniversary Collector's Edition (2012, Warner Bros., R, $65) and three-disc Blu-ray book ($35) celebrates the film with a comprehensive look at its development, impacts and controversies. Seven different versions of the film were released as studio-demanded plot changes and narrations were at odds with Scott's vision. His 2007 Final Cut is the definitive one, though the sets include the original domestic and international theatrical versions and Scott's 1991 cut.
Blade Runner was adapted from science-fiction writer Philip K. Dick's novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? It is set in a technologically advanced world in which organic robots, known as replicants, are manufactured by the Tyrell Corp. for dangerous and menial work in off-world colonies. They are almost indistinguishable from humans and are banned from coming to Earth. Those that do (hoping to extend their four-year lifespans, perhaps) are hunted by Blade Runners, special police who track them down and kill them.
Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a retired cop reluctantly pressed back into to duty by his former boss (M. Emmet Walsh) to go after a quartet of violent rogue replicants led by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). The robots, who also include Zhora (Joanna Cassidy), Leon (Brion James) and Pris (Daryl Hannah), want to murder their creator, Eldon Tyrell (Joe Turkel). While on his mission, Deckard encounters and falls in love with Tyrell's assistant Rachael, who he discovers is an experimental replicant implanted with false memories who is unaware of what she is. Throughout, he is shadowed by his former partner, Gaff (Edward James Olmos), who also knows Rachael's secret.
The film gave career boosts to most of its cast, especially Ford, who was already a proven action hero from Star Wars and Indiana Jones films, but showed that he could handle roles that required dramatic depth as well. It explored a variety of themes — the dominance of technology, genetic engineering, the meaning of being human, environmental devastation,, corporate power. Its look and mood would influence a wide range of sci-fi films including The Matrix and Terminator.
In addition to the various versions of the film, the sets come with several hours of bonus content that includes commentaries by Scott, features on the set design and costumes, deleted scenes, trailers, screen tests and commentary from Paul M. Sammon, who detailed the behind-the-scenes fights over the film in his 1996 book Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner. There is also a feature on Dick, who died in 1982, but in addition to Blade Runner, several of his works became movies, including Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report and The Adjustment Bureau. The four-disc set comes with a 72-page book and a replica of a Spinner, the flying cars seen in the movie.