Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Blade Runner

I had a bitch of a time seeing Ridley Scott's movies as a kid.
Seriously, I could write a goddamn book on the Ullyses-like quest to see Alien. Instead I'll probably settle for a quick blogpost sometime in the near future.

Blade Runner came a little easier, but was still a challenge. I was living in England when it was released and first heard of the movie in either Starburst magazine or in a color insert in the Spider-Man Weekly TV Comic (a B&W tabloid that reprinted American Spider-Man comics.) In retrospect the Spider-Man teaser was a little inappropriate, but Warners was probably at a loss on how to market a sci-fi movie with Harrison Ford as a drunken, woman killing bounty hunter.

My first effort to see in in the theater was rebuffed at the ticket booth of the local theater in Beaconsfield. This was the theater where I saw such amazing films as 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dr. Who and the Dalek Invasion of Earth, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Annie (f*ck you if you don't like Annie!) On one of my family's last nights in the country my father somehow got us into the much stricter-rated Creepshow (slapped with an X) but my younger brother and I couldn't get into Blade Runner by ourselves. We were too young at the time. I think the British method of rating movies has changed since 1982 but, at the time, I was 10 and couldn't BS the teller that I was actually 13. Lord knows I tried. I don't remember what we saw instead.

I wouldn't see Blade Runner for a few more years, and then it was the video version with the "added footage," a tag that didn't mean much to me because I hadn't see the theatrical cut. Between these events I busied myself with Marvel's comic adaption and the original Phillip K. Dick novel.

Here's the part that ought to earn me geek streed cred for the rest of my life: in 1982 I somehow convinced my teacher to let me stage two scenes from the movie. The comic, magazine photos and Dick's novel were my sources of reference. I found a couple of classmates to play Holden, Leon and Rachel (and cast myself as Deckard, or course) and we performed the opening "Voight Kampf" sequence and the death of Leon. Cap guns and stage blood were involved.

In you're wondering: Yes, I have problems watching Rushmore without getting weepy.

When the director's cut was released in the early 1990s I had a second chance to see Blade Runner in the theater ... and I took it. My brother and I (then adults) drove more than an hour to Charlotte, N.C., to see the movie in its only venue in the Carolinas. I recently came across my ticket stub and a newspaper clipping from the event. I have NO idea why or how I held on to these things for so long.


  1. Yup. I went to see it in '92 as well.

    In '82, I was living in Mexico City, and...well, it's complicated, but I didn't get to see Blade Runner first run. I saw it about 5 years later, still in Mexico, and on Beta.

    Yes. Beta.

    Naturally, I loved it, and after I got back to the US in '87, I rented the video a few times. You know, to catch up. A theatre here in my hometown screened the Director's Cut, so I went to that. Later, in college, I took a comparative lit-in-film class where we watched it back-to-back with Metropolis. Wheeee!

    Incidentally, I went back to Mexico City for a short visit in 1995. One day I felt like taking in a flick, so I picked up the paper and looked through the listings. Batman Forever? No. Crimson Tide? I'd seen it. The Brady Bunch? That'd been the week previous (and I was the only one who got all the jokes.

    Blade Runner? Did I wanna go across town to see Blade Runner, a movie I owned on VHS, while on vacation?

    You bet I did.

  2. My family's first VCR was a Beta, so that was how I saw a lot of movies for the first time. The first movies we actually owned were Beta tapes ... Raiders of the Lost Ark, Flash Gordon and The Making of Michael Jackosn's Thriller.

    Hell, even my first bootleg — E.T. — was Beta.

    It was a little disheartening to walk into the video store and find a ration of 1:4 between Betamax and VHS, though. Sure we had superior sound and picture, but it didn't make much difference if you couldn't actually find particular movies in your format.


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