FUTURE NOIR REVISED AND UPDATED EDITION: THE MAKING OF BLADE RUNNER by Paul M. Sammon is the second edition of an already extremely detailed novel chronicling the creation of the immortal Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford movie. It follows the troubled production of the movie from the writing of DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP up to the FINAL CUT which brought the movie in line with Scott's original vision.A word to the wise that this is a book for people who really-really love Blade Runner. It's not a work for the laymen as the author discusses the movie scene by scene. Paul Sammon was on the set of Blade Runner when it was first created and has kept up on the developments with the movie across something like twenty-five years. That's dedication.
The story of Blade Runner basically goes from being passed around as an option until picked up by Ridley Scott with numerous rewrites. Some saw it as a sci-fi action movie, some saw it as a love story, and some saw it as a cerebral philosophical movie. Notably, Phillip K. Dick and Ridley Scott disagreed on the fundamental premise of the Replicants: Dick thought of them as monsters who symbolized the worst in humanity while Scott saw the people who hunted them as such. Dick would pass away before the movie's release but got to see some of the film's early parts to his delight. Paul Sammon's enthusiasm for the material is infectious even if he's a bit too meticulous about details for my tastes. I would have loved to have heard from more people influenced by Blade Runner and spin-off material or the philosophical underpinnings of the story versus some of the stories he collects about the movie going over budget. Needless to say, there's a fascinating number of personal anecdotes and stories here.
For example, the beautiful Joanna Cassidy was actually the owner of the snake used in the strip club scene and was annoyed every time she had to put it up. She wanted to do an actual snake strip tease for the movie and was disappointed when they didn't put it in. Later, she'd allow herself to be re-filmed for the Final Cut to fill in the blanks of a scene--still looking very much like she did in her early twenties two decades later. Other actors and production crew are less enthusiastic about the subject with Harrison Ford's interview being hilarious because of how little he remembers about the movie. He's also a terrible interviewee, which makes some wonderfully pointed commentary.
"Would you like to talk about your relationship with Sean Young?"
The movie was not a success on its first release and we get an analysis of why that is, though Paul nails it in that the movie was great but ruined by poorly written voice over narrations and a tacked-on happy ending that didn't fit the movie's themes. The revisions of the film turned what was an above-average science fiction into an immortal masterwork. We get a complete analysis of how this all worked out and the kind of dedication which went into reviving the film.
One great section of the book is an analysis of the issue of "is Deckard a replicant?" The immortal question is answered about as factually as possible with Harrison Ford stating, "no, he's not," while Ridley Scott saying, "yes he is." There's also all the evidence in the movies across multiple versions compiled to give evidence to both individuals' sides. Personally, I go with Harrison on this simply because I think it makes a better story. The fact there's ambiguity on the subject at all is something which fits with the themes of the movie.
In conclusion, this is definitely a great book for film buffs and super-fans of Blade Runner but not something for the average reader. Nevertheless, with Blade Runner 2049 having shown the work still has legs, it's definitely something I'm glad I picked up. I am a huge Blade Runner fan and think the movie will stand the test of time to be a classic even a century from now.