TMT: Before Unicorn Dreams
This is the next entry in a Theatre… a Movie… and a Time, a series that was begun here. This one covers a sci-fi film, one that’ll celebrate its three decade anniversary next year, praised almost universally now (like my previous entry). However, it split many film critics and the director’s own fans from the moment of its theatrical release.
“Sushi. That’s what my ex-wife called me – cold fish.” ~ Rick Deckard’s orphaned quote from the theatrical cut of the film
June 25, 1982: Director Ridley Scott blew away so many with his exceptional sci-fi horror motion picture, Alien, back in 1979. Me included, as I documented with my own experience with the film a while back. So, there was no way my friends at work and I were going to missed his very next feature. As well, its movie trailer had all of us on-the-job film followers giddy and even more than intrigued.
Therefore, a half dozen of us planned to leave right after work that same Friday of Blade Runner‘s wide release. We picked the Hollywood Theatre1 because it was one of the few showing the picture in magnificent 70mm for all its widescreen beauty, high-tech sound system, along with the fact that it was fairly close to work. Not too distant from where we all lived at the time, besides.
A few of us had seen some of the movie reviews offered by critics that day in local newspapers2. Of the ones I read, all were bad. Sheila Benson, then working at the L.A. Times, infamously called it “Blade Crawler”. I’ll never forget that review title. We arrived for the evening screening — somewhere between 5 and 6 PM. For a big movie release, the movie hall was surprisingly sparsely attended.
I’d estimate the hall was a just third full for the showing. Afterwards, out of the six of us, four disliked the film outright — two of them put it the despised category. Another girl and I liked (not loved) its film noirish quality, but we both felt the trailer and the film’s promotion (along with our memories of Alien) set up an expectation this theatrical cut just couldn’t meet.
Later, the many re-cut versions of Blade Runner would go on to resuscitate the film, but that took years. Ridley’s initial release of this film divided this faction of movie-goers…big time. As a group, we never set foot to another film together thereafter.
The entire series can be found here. If you’re interested how it’s put together, click here.
23 Responses to “TMT: Before Unicorn Dreams”
I remember the bad reviews and I went opening weekend, too. I also liked but didn’t love it. I had a mad crush on Ford at the time so I would have liked anything he was in, but the movie grew on me on subsequent viewings, even after I outgrew my crush.
Wait a minute… you outgrew your Harrison Ford crush?!? I thought you pointed out his role in COWBOYS & ALIENS to me? Do you remember where you took Blade Runner in? And yes, the film had that ability to grow of people on re-viewing. Thanks, Elyse.
I still like him as an actor but no longer get all moony-eyed at the mention of his name. I also don’t do what I did in college anymore, which was wallpaper my room with pictures of him. I’m not joking–Harrison Ford photos covered every inch of the walls from ceiling to floor on my side of the dorm room. I had a very tolerant roommate, who, amazingly, is still one of my best friends today.
As for the theater I saw BR in, it was a mall multiplex in Virginia where I ended up working a year later, with my first shift being the Friday night RETURN OF THE JEDI opened.
I completely understand, Elyse. I use to collect Bruce Lee posters and pix for a time during the 70s after his death. It’s good hear you and your roommate are still close friends.
That’s cool you saw it in a theatre you’d later come to work at. I do have some entries coming in the series that mirror that experience. Thanks, Elyse.
Thanks Leopard, this was an interesting perspective because I didn’t discover Blade Runner until probably the very late 80s when it’s reputation started to be salvaged, and then I caught it theatrically in it’s first of what 800 directors cut in 1992. I haven’t revisited the original cut since my first VHS viewing. I’ve also always known the Hollywood theatre as the Guinness museum. I’ve never been to it though, does it retain any of the same flourishes from it’s days of exhibition?
Yes, the Hollywood does retain some of its original aspects post-museum renovation. It might even be better lit, interior-wise, today. I always remember it being a touch dark in the its movie hall. I use to have that same VHS tape of the film. I need to schedule a viewing of the theatrical cut from the Blu-ray Disc I have. Ford’s monotonic voice-over does add an interesting angle to it. Thanks so much, Kevin.
I haven’t seen blade runner, will not comment on that…what suprised me is that you watched Alien in theater!! I wish I had a chance seeing it in big screen…I was 2years old at that time.
Oh, you must check out Blade Runner when you have a chance! Two-years old in ’79?!? Oh boy, I’m feeling old ;-). Thanks very much for your comment, Novroz. You always bring some marvelous comments, my friend.
What an awesome series, Michael. If only I have as good memory as you as I couldn’t remember which theater I went to even a couple of weeks ago! 😀
I didn’t know that Blade Runner was a box office misfire until my pal Ted told me after he read my commentary of that film. That was mind-boggling to me as I really thought it was a big hit given the cult status it has now. I had just seen it not too long ago and I think it’s a brilliant sci-fi, no wonder there’s so many imitations of it now. Glad you’re one of the ones who liked this one, MIchael, it’s too bad most of your friends hated it.
Which version of Blade Runner did you see, Ruth? There’s been so many over the years. If you can get or rent the disc that includes the original theatrical cut, it is worth seeing and comparing with the Sir Ridley’s final cut. Thank you very much for the kind words, my friend.
I can’t remember which one I saw, it’s whatever on the Blu-ray or did he include both?? My friend Ted (who’s doing the Tarantino post today) lent me his BD so I might have to borrow it again from him to watch it again. I think he said the same thing that the original theatrical cut is the best one. Good day, Michael! 😀
It’s depends upon which Blu-ray Disc version you borrowed from Ted. If it’s the 5-disc version, then it’s there. Thanks, Ruth.
I saw Blade Runner very young and convinced my mother to take me to the R Rated film. I loved science fiction.
I remember the theatre. I really liked the film, but being so young I didn’t completely understand it. I liked that it was confusing though. I liked that it was so visually alluring.
I remember my Mom having the, “well, that was interesting” impression . But I loved it and went hopping up and down out of the film overjoyed that I had seen such a COOL movie.
Anyway, a classic that I appreciated out of the gate even if I didn’t completely understand it. I’ve seen it many times since and read the book Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? and I think I find a new appreciation for it or new things of interest to me everytime I see it.
How many films are capable of pulling that off?
It may explain why Ridley Scott is such a visual genius and still making films today.
I think you’ve crystalized Blade Runner‘s allure exceedingly well, SFF. Even through its various versions over the decades, it remains a thought-provoking film (along with Philip K. Dick’s source novel) film. Plus, it’s visually arresting like nobody’s business. It’s what makes it a classic for the genre and for cinema. Moving pictures, indeed.
That’s a great memory, my friend. Thanks for sharing it here in your comment.
Love, love, love Blade Runner but only in Director’s or Final Cut. Can’t stand the voice over and the 4-hour behind the scenes doc on the Final Cut DVD has uncut audio of Harrison Ford delivering the lines and then going into a profanity laced fit about how stupid it is.
I managed to see Blade Runner (Final Cut) on the big screen back in 2007. Needless to say, seeing it on the big screen blew my frickin’ geek mind!
Have you ever played the PC game? Amazingly faithful to the story and environment.
Isn’t seeing Blade Runner on the big screen somethin’! To many, the theatrical cut isn’t their cup of tea, and I understand why that is. Still, it does offer an interesting variation on a pretty awesome story. I didn’t know they had a PC game of this!!! I’m such a non-gamer it’s embarrassing. Thanks for the comment and info, Will.
Buy it. . .you won’t regret it. It is so faithful to the environment it hurts: http://www.amazon.com/Blade-Runner-Pc/dp/B00002EPYE
Also, for reading purposes: http://www.amazon.com/Future-Noir-Making-Blade-Runner/dp/0061053147/ref=pd_sim_vg_4
Cool. Thanks for the links.
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