In Future Noir, in a re-working of his article for Video Watchdog #20 (Nov/Dec 1993), “The 7 faces of Blade Runner”, Paul M. Sammon counts 5 different versions:
- The Workprint / US Denver/Dallas Sneak Preview (1982)
- US San Diego Sneak Preview (June 1982)
- US Domestic Cut (US Theatrical Release – 1982)
- International Cut (European/Asian Theatrical Release – 1982)
- The Director’s Cut (BRDC) (1992)
- A new version is now being prepared (2002/3?) – The Blade Runner Special Edition
The Workprint is the most different from what we know and is also the version shown at the Fairfax, UCLA, NuArt & Castro confidential screenings (where it was known as “The BLADE RUNNER Director’s Cut”) in 1991 and thus spawned the actual Director’s Cut which ended up being a confused and rushed process.
The San Diego Sneak was very close to the US Domestic Theatrical Cut. But most people have never seen this version! The US Theatrical Release was never put on commercial video, but did appear on a laserdisc.
The International Theatrical Release is the one on which most of the videos, laserdiscs and released versions in the US and around the world are based. There is a version of this cut where some of the graphic scenes have about 15 seconds of extra violence – of Roy gouging Tyrell’s eyes, of Pris beating up Deckard and Deckard firing another shot and the close-up special effect of Roy piercing his hand with the nail. The “extra violence” version is the Embassy Tenth anniversary release and is also on laserdisc. But we stress again, apart from these tiny bits, the rest of the film is the same on all OV videos.
In his original Video Watchdog article, Sammon refers to the Criterion Laserdisc Special Edition separately as it includes extras on the disc, like the Syd Mead gallery. (Hopefully these extras will appear on the BR:SE.) He also listed the Workprint showings in 1991 separately to the 1982 showings for reasons of timing, but notes they are all probably The Workprint. So in this article, it was in fact clear that there were only five actual cuts, though some people seem to have been confused with the listing of different showings/releases of these.
The “real” Director’s Cut, which will appear on the Blade Runner Special Edition DVD set is likely to be much closer to the original Workprint version. Thus, criticisms that some Directors get of constantly recutting their films to new sensibilities is not really true here as all Ridley Scott is doing is taking it back to what it was supposed to be before the studios interfered. So, the BR:SE will become the sixth version, but is intended to be the “definitive cut” as it was always meant to be.
Posted in: 1. About the Film