From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die." --Tears in rain monologue delivered by Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade Runner
Blade Runner is a 1982 American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, and Edward James Olmos. The script was written by Hampton Fancher and David Peoples, and is a loose adaptation of the 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick. Set in a dystopian Los Angeles in 2019, the story depicts a future in which synthetic humans known as replicants are bioengineered by the powerful Tyrell Corporation to work on off-world colonies. When a fugitive group of replicants led by Roy Batty (Hauer) escape back to Earth, burnt-out LA cop Rick Deckard (Ford) reluctantly accepts one last assignment to hunt them down. During his investigations, Deckard meets Rachael (Young), an advanced replicant who causes him to question his mission.
Blade Runner initially underperformed in North American theaters, and polarized critics; some praised its thematic complexity and visuals, while others were displeased with its unconventional pacing and plot. However, it has subsequently become an acclaimed cult film, and is now regarded by many critics as one of the all-time best science fiction movies. Hailed for its production design depicting a "retrofitted" future, Blade Runner remains a leading example of neo-noir cinema, and has been highly influential on many subsequent science fiction films, video games, anime, and television series. The film's soundtrack, composed by Vangelis, was critically acclaimed, and was nominated in 1983 for a BAFTA and Golden Globe as best original score.
The film brought the work of Philip K. Dick to the attention of Hollywood, and several later films were based on his work. Ridley Scott regards Blade Runner as "probably" his most complete and personal film. In the year after its release, the film won the prestigious Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, and in 1993 it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress, being deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
Seven versions of the film have been constructed as a result of controversial changes made at the request of studio executives. A director's cut was released in 1992 after a strong response to test screenings of a workprint. This, in conjunction with the film's popularity as a video rental, made it one of the first movies to be released on DVD—albeit a basic production with mediocre video and audio quality. In 2007, Warner Bros. released The Final Cut, a 25th-anniversary digitally remastered version, the only one over which Scott retained complete editorial and artistic control. This version was shown in selected theaters and subsequently released on DVD, HD DVD, and Blu-ray.
A sequel, Blade Runner 2049, was released in October 2017.
In Los Angeles, November 2019, retired police officer Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is detained and brought by officer Gaff (Edward James Olmos) to his former supervisor, Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh). Deckard, whose job as a "Blade Runner" was to track down bioengineered beings known as replicants and "retire" them ("retire" being the official term for the killing of replicants), is told by Bryant that several have escaped and come to Earth illegally. As Tyrell Corporation Nexus-6 models, they have only a four-year lifespan, and may have come to Earth to try to extend their lives.
Deckard watches a video of another Blade Runner named Holden (Morgan Paull) administering a "Voight-Kampff" test designed to distinguish humans from replicants based on their empathic response to questions. The subject of the test, Leon (Brion James), shoots Holden. Bryant wants Deckard to return to work to retire Leon and three other replicants—Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), Zhora (Joanna Cassidy) and Pris (Daryl Hannah). Deckard refuses, but after Bryant makes a veiled threat, he reluctantly agrees.
Sent to the Tyrell Corporation to ensure that the test works on Nexus-6 models, Deckard discovers that Tyrell's (Joe Turkel) assistant Rachael (Sean Young) is an experimental replicant who believes herself to be human; Rachael's consciousness has been enhanced with false memories to provide an "emotional cushion". As a result, a more extensive test is required to determine if she is a replicant.
Trying to find a way to meet with Tyrell, Roy and Leon go to the eye-manufacturing laboratory of Chew (James Hong), forcing him to divulge the identity of J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson), a gifted designer who works closely with Tyrell. Rachael visits Deckard at his apartment to prove her humanity by showing him a family photo. Dropping the photo to the floor, Rachael leaves in tears after Deckard tells her that her memories are only implants taken from a real person. Sent by Roy, Pris meets and gains the confidence of Sebastian at his apartment, where he lives with manufactured companions.
While searching Leon's apartment, Deckard finds a photo of Zhora, and a synthetic snake scale that leads him to a strip club where Zhora works. Deckard retires Zhora, and shortly after is told by Bryant to add Rachael, who has disappeared from the Tyrell Corporation headquarters, to his list of retirements. Deckard spots Rachael in a crowd but is disarmed and attacked by Leon, who saw him kill Zhora. Rachael kills Leon using Deckard's gun, and the two return to Deckard's apartment, where he promises not to hunt Rachael. Later they share an intimate moment; Rachael then tries to leave, but Deckard seduces her.
Arriving at Sebastian's apartment, Roy tells Pris the others are dead. Sympathetic to their plight, Sebastian reveals that because of a genetic disorder that accelerates his aging, his life will also be cut short. Under a pretext, Sebastian and Roy gain entrance into Tyrell's secure penthouse, where Roy demands more life from his maker. Told that this has proved to be impossible, Roy confesses that he has done "questionable things". Tyrell dismisses Roy's guilt, praising Roy's advanced design and his accomplishments. Responding "Nothing the god of biomechanics wouldn't let you into heaven for", Roy kisses Tyrell, then kills him. Sebastian runs for the elevator followed by Roy, who rides the elevator down alone.
Upon entering Sebastian's apartment, Deckard is ambushed by Pris, but manages to kill her just as Roy returns. Roy fights Deckard without using his full strength against him. Eventually Deckard is hanging from a rooftop. Just as he is about to fall, Roy saves him. His life ending, Roy delivers a monologue on how his memories are about to be lost and dies in front of Deckard, who watches silently. Gaff arrives and, referring to Rachael, shouts to Deckard "It's too bad she won't live, but then again, who does?" Deckard returns to his apartment to find Rachael alive and sleeping in his bed; as they leave, Deckard finds a small tin-foil unicorn, a calling card left by his origami-making partner Gaff. Depending on the version, Deckard and Rachael either leave the apartment block to an uncertain future, or drive through an idyllic pastoral landscape.