BladeRunnerway Bride

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This article is about the 1999 romantic comedy. For the 1982 science fiction film, see Blade Runner.
BladeRunawayBride

The movie's original poster.

Blade Runnerway Bride is a 1999 American dystopian science fiction romantic comedy directed by Ridley Scott and starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. The screenplay, written by the team behind Four Weddings and a Funeral, is loosely based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Shags? by Philip K. Dick.

Plot

The film depicts a dystopian Los Angeles in November 2019 in which Maggie Carpenter (Roberts) is a spirited and attractive young woman who has left a series of fiances in almost identical fashion, earning her the nickname "The Replicant". Rick Deckard (Ford) is a burnt-out expert "Bride Hunter" who reluctantly agrees to take on one more assignment: to track down and kill Maggie. As the film progresses, Deckard finds himself falling in love with Maggie, but he has competition from two unlikely sources!

Reporter Graham "Ike" Eisenhower (Richard Gere) is also 'hunting' Maggie, for an interview, and eventually the two find themselves becoming more and more attracted to each other. While Maggie is in the middle of rehearsing her latest wedding, to an android named Roy Batty (Hauer), Ike is asked to help her rehearse walking down the aisle. When Ike and Maggie "practice" the kiss right in front of Batty, they admit their true feelings for one another. As a result, Batty punches Ike in the face before using his rocket boosters to fly out of the church.

Soon after, since a wedding is already set to take place, Ike and Maggie agree to get married. But on the day of the wedding Maggie gets cold feet, and leaves Ike, too, standing at the altar. As she rides away on a flying FedEx truck, her face a mixture of regret and relief, Deckard enters the vehicle, having secretly clung to the roof of the truck. He accuses Maggie of not being human, and when she attempts to prove her humanity by showing him a family photo, Deckard tells her that her most human traits are only implants. She drops the photograph and jumps off the truck in tears.

BladeRunner Bradbury

The film's dystopian vision of LA has inspired other romantic comedies, such as I Love You Man.

Later that evening Deckard is searching for Maggie in a crowd when he is spotted by Leon, the jilted lover of Zhora, the last runaway bride he 'retired'. Leon attacks Deckard but Maggie intervenes, killing Leon with Deckard's gun. The two return to Deckard's apartment, where he promises not to hunt her. Later they share an intimate moment; Maggie then tries to leave, but Deckard seduces her.

The story jumps forward several years, and we see Maggie trying to discover herself, putting her lighting designs up for sale in dystopian Los Angeles. She shows up unexpectedly at Ike's apartment one night where he finds her making friends with his cat, Italics. Maggie then explains that she's been running because every guy she was engaged to was only attracted to the idea she had created for them rather than the real her. She says that at her wedding ceremony with Ike she was simply freaked out at the size of the crowd and the possibility of encountering Roy's angry robot in-laws. She "turns in" her running shoes just before proposing to Ike.

Deckard, also apparently jilted by Maggie years ago, arrives at the apartment and kills Ike, but just as he is about to approach Maggie he is in turn ambushed by Batty. Batty fights Deckard, and after the latter flees to the top of the building, he slips and is left hanging from a rooftop. Just as he is about to fall, Batty saves him. It becomes apparent that Batty's batteries are running out, and in his dying moments, he delivers a monologue on how his memories of his dream wedding are about to disappear:

BladerunnerBatty2

The famous rooftop scene.


“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Napkins in the shape of swans. I watched sea-breams glitter on the banquet table next to a five tier wedding cake. All those moments will be lost in time like... tears in rain.”
~ Batty's final monologue

Deckard's partner Gaff arrives and, referring to Maggie, shouts to Deckard "It's too bad she won't live, but then again, who does?" Deckard returns to his apartment to find Maggie alive. Depending on the version, Deckard and Maggie either leave the apartment to face an uncertain future, or the two are married in a private ceremony on a hill, avoiding the big ceremonies that drove Maggie away in the past, and then ride away on horseback while everyone celebrates the fact that Maggie finally got married.

Casting

Harrison Ford, looking for a character with dramatic depth, took on the role of Deckard, but the experience was not a happy one. Movie execs put pressure on director Ridley Scott to move the film away from its originally typical sci-fi script towards one with more romantic comedy leanings, and specifically a main role for Roberts.

Apart from friction with the director, Ford also disliked the voiceovers he had to do to bookend each act, all of which were sung to the sound ofDoe, a Deer, a Female Deer from The Sound of Music: "When we started shooting it had been tacitly agreed that the version of the film we'd agreed upon was the version without voiceover narration. It was a fucking nightmare. I thought that the film had worked without the narration. But now I was stuck re-creating that narration. I went kicking and screaming to the studio to record it."

Horse drinking beer bottle

Pictures of horses, such as this one, were stuck on Roberts' trailer door.

Roberts and Gere's arrival was by far the most disruptive issue. The pair had been looking for a movie to work on together since 1990's Pretty Woman broke all box office records for a whore flick. Hollywood's shock at their choice of film this itme was reflected by that of the existing cast and crew. The two stars were met frostily, and were the subject of a number of practical jokes involving horse-faces and hamsters. Roberts' constant smile was said to have reduced from its trademark 120 watts to a mere 80. Finally, as Ford reflected, "They both won us around. The more you look at Julia, the less horse you see, and the more nice, all-American sweetheart you want to live for. And Richard is not as big as a prick as people make out. I think he's probably not gay and not even into hamsters."

One role that was not difficult to cast was Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty. Scott once famously described Hauer to Joan Rivers, who'd asked him if Hauer was important to the movie. "Whey aye man, he were a reet canny Batty, man, woman, man. [1] Aye, there were summik Aryan about him like. He had biceps the size of bird's baps, an' aaaaall."

The Dutchman proved his worth by improvising the film's most famous monologue, reproduced above. Hauer reflected on the speech in an interview in 2006: "I simply thought about all the weddings I had been to, all the decorative touches I had seen the gay designers make, and how much I would want to marry Julia Roberts if I was a robot. It just came to me."

Various Versions

Arguably more than any other movie in modern Hollywood history, the film is famous for existing in different versions, seven to be exact. The best known are the International Cut and the Director's Cut but none can be said to be definitive.

  1. Original workprint version (1999, 113 minutes) shown in test previews in Denver and Dallas in March 1999 as a Director's Cut without the approval of the director, Ridley Scott. It was notable for the entire soundtrack being produced by Scott, a veteran beatboxer, making noises with his mouth. Negative responses to the test previews led to the modifications resulting in the US theatrical version.
  2. A San Diego Sneak Preview (1999, 119 minutes) shown only once in May 1999, which was almost identical to the US theatrical versionwith three extra scenes, all of which featured gratuitous scenes of the main characters experiencing difficult bowel movements, which Scott had wanted to include to represent "the fundamental discomfort of the world they lived in, like."
  3. The US theatrical version (1999, 116 minutes), known as the original version, or Domestic Cut. Same as the workprint version but with a properly scored soundtrack, and all references to LA replaced with "Toronto" so as not to offend US audiences.
  4. The International Cut (1999, 137 minutes) also known as the "Criterion Edition" or uncut version, included more violent and sexual scenes than the US theatrical version, including an extended 11-minute sex scene involving Ford, a tub of margarine, and Roberts, which the latter described as "horrific to shoot".
  5. The US broadcast version (2002, 114 minutes) was the U.S. theatrical version edited by CBS to tone down the violence, profanity, and nudity to meet broadcasting restrictions. All instances of the word "fuck" were famously changed to "funk", the futuristic laser gun sounds were replaced with more 'homely' western style sounds, and all kissing and cuddling was removed. This version features the 'happy ending' with the words 'The End' being written across the screen in fancy cursive.
  6. The Ridley Scott-approved Director's Cut (2003, 116 minutes). Significant changes from the theatrical version include: altering of digital effects to shift the setting from a futuristic LA to 1950s suburban America, removal of Deckard's sung voice-over - seen as a belated concession to Ford, insertion of a sensual dream sequence involving Roberts cleaning the dirty horn of a unicorn with an oily hand while talking about the institution of the holy family, and the removal of the final scene showing her and Deckard riding through the countryside as the screen fades suddenly to black, with an almost inaudible "Haway man. Fuck it, that'll do" heard in a Geordie accent, which gives the version its name.
  7. Ridley Scott's Final Cut (2012, 64 minutes), or the "25th Anniversary Edition". This is the only version over which Ridley Scott had complete artistic control and retains the 1950s suburban setting from the Director's cut, reduces Ford's role to a minimum and plays down the robotic nature of Batty, which makes his death scene particularly confusing. The version was universally panned and was described by the Los Angeles Times as "an hour of Gere and Roberts gurning at each other". Scott's brother Tony, also a director, killed himself out of shame at his sibling's work.

Cultural Influence

The film has had a great cultural impact, with its futuristic setting inspiring a number of other romantic comedies including I Love You Manas well as Picture Perfect and He's Just Not That Into You, both of which starred Jennifer Aniston who described the film as "One of the biggest influences on my movie career."

One of the movie's most iconic scenes, in which Deckard tests Zhora to see if she is really a runaway bride, has been the subject of many parodies. He admininisters a Voight-Kampff exam, named after the maiden name of infamous runaway bride Angelina Jolie.

In the scene, Deckard ties Zhora feet to bicycle pedals and asks her various questions to test if she has a built-in instinct to run when symbols of commitment are mentioned.

Fade in
int. dark room
DECKARD, standing, finishes his cigarette as though it's his only solace. He hears movement outside and takes a seat. ZHORA enters
Deckard
Come in. Sit down.
Zhora
Care if I talk? I'm kind of nervous when I take tests.
Deckard
Uh, just please don't move.
Zhora
Oh, sorry. I already had an IQ test this year, I don't think I've ever had one of these -
Deckard
Reaction time is a factor in this, so please pay attention. Now, answer as quickly as you can.
Zhora
Sure.

DECKARD sits back in his chair speaking mechanically from a script.

Deckard
You're on honeymoon, walking along in the sand when all of the sudden-
Zhora
Is this the test now?

DECKARD glares at ZHORA.

Deckard
Yes. You're on honeymoon walking along in the sand when all of the sudden you look down-
Zhora
What beach?
Deckard
What?!!
Zhora
What beach?
Deckard
It doesn't make any difference what beach, it's completely hypothetical.
Zhora
But how come I'd be there?

DECKARD, visibly exasperated by the latest question, stares at ZHORA, and there is a tense pause.

Deckard
Maybe you're knocked up, maybe you didn't want to be by yourself, who knows? You look down and you see a toddler, Zhora, it's crawling towards you-
Zhora
Toddler, what's that?
Deckard
Know what a child is?
Zhora
Of course.
Deckard
Same thing.
Zhora
I've never seen a toddler -- But I understand what you mean.
Deckard
You reach down, you flip the toddler over on its back...
Zhora
Do you make up these questions, Mr. Deckard, or do they write them down for you?

DECKARD leans in, intensely.

Deckard
...the toddler lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun beating its legs trying to turn itself over but it can't, not without your help, but you're not helping, Zhora.
Zhora
What do you mean I'm not helping?
Deckard
I mean, you're not helping. Why is that Zhora?
(pauses)
They're just questions, Zhora. In answer to your query, yes, they're written down for me. It's a test, designed to provoke an emotional response. -- Shall we continue? Describe in single words, only the good things that come into your mind about... your fiancé.

ZHORA sits up, rigidly.

Zhora
My fiancé?

DECKARD stares at her with searching eyes.

Deckard
Yeah.
Zhora
Let me tell you about my fiancé...

ZHORA begins peddling furiously.

Critical Reception

Blade Runnerway Bride was released in 1,290 theaters on June 25, 1999. The gross for the opening weekend was a disappointing $6.15 million on a $28 million budget. A significant factor in the film's rather poor box office performance was that it was released at the same time asShakespeare in Love, a rather more conventional romantic comedy with no robots.

Film critics were polarized as some felt the science fiction element of the story had taken a back seat to the romantic comedy, or vice versa. Others acclaimed its complexity and predicted it would stand the test of time.

Sheila Benson from the Los Angeles Times said it was "a bizarre piece of shit which made no sense" but went on to praise the "star quality" of Ford, Roberts, and Gere. Pat Berman in The State and Columbia Record described it as "so-so sci-fi bot-rom-com mish-mash". Roger Ebert was more positive, describing the movie as "moody and cinematic in its depiction of a horrific future, with just the right amount of laughs and romance."

Jonathan Ross on the BBC's flagship movie review programme said, "On paper it looked like the studios had got together and fed two scripts into the same fax machine. But you can't help rooting for Julia to get it on with Hauer. And Ford. And Gere. And even Ridley. Deep down I want Julia Roberts to be a nasty, kinky bitch robot too."

Footnotes

  1. Scott is from Newcastle. It is difficult for Geordies to refer to women, as they punctuate many sentences with the word 'man'.

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