Story of the Scene: 'Blade Runner' Ridley Scott (1982)

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

The climactic scene of Blade Runner is the story of a famous building and a key piece of improvisation. Ridley Scott's film was based on the novel by Philip K Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. William Burroughs also wrote a script called Bladerunner (about a surgeon who illegally sells surgical instruments); Scott brought the script just to use the title.

The film envisages a hellish future. Genetically engineered human beings, or replicants, are rising against their human masters. Harrison Ford is a cop trained to track them down and kill them.

Ford leaves his car and walks towards an LA landmark, the Bradbury Apartments. The interior shots are filmed at its real location in South Broadway, its extensive, futuristic ironwork setting the mood of noirish menace. At the top of the Bradbury Ford finds himself in a fight to the death with a replicant played by Daryl Hannah. Rutger Hauer arrives and, as Ford seems about to plunge off the building to his death, delivers some famous lines, including: "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain."

Hauer was meant to deliver a much longer scripted speech. On the morning of the shoot, Hauer asked Scott to listen to lines he'd written. Scott agreed to their inclusion, describing them as "beautiful". It's the building, though, that really sets the scene.