Now a cinematic classic, Ridley Scott’s 1982 science-fiction classic, Blade Runner, the initial release was received with mixed reviews from audience and critics alike. It was claimed it did not fit the action/adventure genre it was marketed for. With hindsight, we can look back and see that the film was maybe just too ahead of its time, so much so that the audience didn’t quite know how to take it.
Even though it had Harrison Ford in the leading role, Scott was aware that the film might flop at the box office. During production he was quoted as saying “The fact is, if you are ahead of your time, that’s as bad as being behind the times, nearly.” He continued “You’ve still got the same problem. I’m all about trying to fix the problem.”
One of the major issues with the film’s reception was the ending which Scott tried to ‘fix’. Apparently, it left people cold and somewhat unsatisfied at a time when studios were churning out family-friendly epics, Blade Runner wasn’t quite fitting the bill. To fix this the cast and crew headed out to Big Bear Lake and shot a new sequence of Ford and his co-star Young escaping into the mountains.
The inner shots of Decker’s flying car cruising through a lush forest came out okay, but the wide-angle shots captured at a greater distance were ruined by cloudy weather. The director was at a loss, left without a tangible end-shot to finish off a sci-fi cult classic.
That was until Scott remembered one of his favourite films. Kubrick’s The Shining had used a similar mountain terrain in its scenery. Scott remembered the brilliant opening of the Jack Nicholson film and how it had employed the expert use of an overhead shot. Scott would use the same technique to end his masterpiece.
The crucial difference is that Kubrick’s driving scene allowed the audience to explore the setting of the story and the infamous hotel in an unfamiliar way, while Scott’s allowed the audience to explore the possibility of a future outside the dystopian world Decker had managed to escape.
See both scenes from each film below: