Saturday, September 20, 2008

Blade Runner - The Value of a Narration

I'm a little behind on this one, so bear with me.

I just finished reading "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" by Philip K Dick, for the very first time. I can't say I loved it. The style of writing seemed to me like a bad translation of Ibsen with some futuristic lingo thrown in. It just seemed to lack the clarity of vision of a good Bradbury or Clarke story (though my fave classic Sci-Fi author is Asimov, so what do I know).

Anywho, having finished the book, I felt it would be a good idea to re-visit the movie Blade Runner. It's a movie I remember LOVING, and haven't seen in several years. As I don't own a copy, I was off to Netflix to throw it on my queue. I was shocked to find that Blade Runner had been added to the "Watch Instantly" list. Sweet!

I plugged my laptop into the TV, fired up Netflix, and sat back to enjoy the flick and do a little compare and contrast with the book I had just read.

Then Harrison Ford's narration clicked in, his horrible, awful, no good, narration.

I actually had to stop the stream and check out the movie details. The version Netflix had on Watch Instantly was the original theatrical version. I've seen Blade Runner at LEAST a half dozen times.

I've NEVER seen the original theatrical version.

I went back and finished the film, but it was pretty painful. Never before had I experienced such a poorly executed, ham-fisted, attempt at whittling down the IQ of  a story. Ford's VO is dispassionate, bored, and horribly incongruous with the tone of the film. It painfully states the obvious, and kills any attempt at audience involvement or imagination. It's insulting how little respect the narration has for the audience's intelligence.

I think I understand now why (at least one reason why) the movie was so poorly received at the box office when it was originally released.

So, ultimately the Blade Runner vs Do Androids Dream comparison experiment was a failure, and now I've got an order in for Blade Runner: The Final Cut.

We'll see how that goes...


  1. Legend has it that Ford was really against the narration, but forced to do it. Hence the absolute god-awfulness of his delivery--it was purposeful. This *sounds* very legendy though.

  2. I would TOTALLY believe that Ben.
    There's an Orson Welles "here under protest" kinda vibe to his speaking.

    All around it was such a horrible idea to add it to the film. I could see where Ford himself would be upset, as it completely undermines the integrity of his performance.

    Thanks for the comment!