Christopher Nolan Has A Hot Take About Blade Runner

"Blade Runner" is one of those classic films that has existed in numerous versions over the years. The original 1982 domestic and international cuts gave way to a so-called "Director's Cut," and then the "Final Cut," which featured additional involvement from director Ridley Scott. Since the Final Cut — released in 2007 as the movie marked its 25th anniversary — is the only one that Scott oversaw without an intermediary, fans may be inclined to regard it as the definitive version. However, Scott's fellow filmmaker, Christopher Nolan, has a different take, and it may be a hot one, if you're not used to hearing much love for Harrison Ford's abandoned voiceover.

In "Blade Runner," Ford plays Rick Deckard, a cop in a futuristic Los Angeles who hunts replicants (synthetic humans). Scott did not have final cut over the theatrical release, and the studio wanted a happier ending and voiceover narration to help clarify the story after it tested poorly with audiences. Nolan saw the studio's version on VHS first, and in an appearance on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, he spoke about the impression it and other blockbusters made on him, saying:

"[A] really seminal film was Ridley Scott's Blade Runner. All this science fiction, somewhere in there you've got the Bond films. It's just signified to me the potential of the blockbuster, and of the globe-traveling sort of glamorous filmmaking. But Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, I first watched it on VHS. I was too young to go see it in the cinema, you know it was an R-rated film. And even on that smaller screen, something about the immersion of that world, and the creation of that world really spoke to me. And I watched that film hundreds of times, literally hundreds of times."

'It is the best version of the film'

"Blade Runner" had a number of production problems, and neither Scott nor Ford were fans of the studio-mandated voiceover. Ford felt pressured to do it against his will, and over the years, he has given various interviews in print magazines like Empire and Playboy, describing the end result as "bad voiceover" and "bad narration."

The 1992 Director's Cut of the film subsequently removed all trace of it. Yet in an era where it's all too easy for studios to flood the market with extended editions and other alternate cuts of perennial film favorites, Nolan still prefers the version of "Blade Runner" that he was first exposed to on VHS all those years ago. He said:

"It is the best version of the film. It's imperfect – and it seems presumptuous and I'm a huge fan of Ridley Scott, so I don't want to go up against his view in a sense – but the reality is, that tension between the marketplace, between the studios, between the fights, the creative stuff that happens when a film goes out, unless they literally pull the film out of the director's hands and recut it, and bastardize it in some way, I think really the authoritative version of the film tends to be the one that goes out there in theaters."

'There's something about that put up or shut up'

Nolan continued:

"Even with the voice-over, all the rest, there are all these defining things to it that I realized I'd missed over the years in coming to the other versions. And, I think there's something about that 'put up or shut up.' Okay, that's the thing you put in theaters. I think as filmmakers, well I think for the public, that has to be protected as some kind of authoritative, definitive statement on what the film is."

The influence of "Blade Runner" on Nolan's work can perhaps most acutely be felt in "Batman Begins," where the rain and steam of the Narrows and Gotham City functions as a kind of superhero reimagining of Scott's dystopian L.A. "Batman Begins" also utilized a key "Blade Runner" cast member by having Rutger Hauer, who played the fierce replicant Roy Batty, serve as the CEO of Wayne Enterprises.

In the end, knowing how much Nolan values the purity of the theatrical experience, and knowing that he watched the theatrical cut of "Blade Runner" hundreds of times and grew attached to it as a kid, it's not altogether surprising to hear that he prefers it to any of the later releases. For other cinephiles, however, whether or not this is actually "the best version" of "Blade Runner," as he called it, is highly debatable.