Why Blade Runner’s Original “Happy” Ending Includes Footage From All-Time Iconic Horror Movie
- Blade Runnerthe original ending with pictures from The Clarity it was a studio-led adaptation and didn’t fit the tone of the film well.
- The unicorn ending, seen in the director’s cut and final cut, is more ambiguous and consistent with the overall tone Blade Runner.
- The unicorn ending leaves Deckard and Rachael’s future open, while the theatrical ending removes uncertainty and provides heavy-handed confirmation that Deckard is a replicant.
Director Ridley Scott explains why Blade RunnerThe original ending features footage from The Clarity. Blade Runner famously has several finishes, including the theatrical cut, director’s cut, and final cut, the latter directed entirely by Scott and generally treated as the definitive version of the film. While the director’s cut and final cut have a more ambiguous conclusion, the theatrical cut has a more traditional happy ending, ironically brought to life by B-roll footage from the iconic horror film at Stanley Kubrick. The Clarity.
In a new interview with DateScott explains why it ended Blade RunnerThe theatrical cut changed from his original vision and why he used film The Clarity. The end of the theatrical cut shows Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) and Rachael (Sean Young) driving into the mountains, which is very different from the end in which Deckard builds the origami unicorn before leaving with Rachael. Read Scott’s explanation below:
I had just finished Blade Runner. And the film is essentially a film noir. He walks out, you are going to walk away with his love, and on the floor. And there’s this origami unicorn. He picks it up and hits it. This is proof that it could be a replica. He enters the elevator and the boom, ready. They hated him.
They say, you can’t do this. We need to preview again with a happy ending. I said, why is there a happy ending? They said, driving into the mountains or something. I’m leaving, what are you talking about? Why would you live in a city if there was a mountain range just around the corner? You live in the f*cking mountains. They say, we need a preview with a happy ending. I called Stanley, I said, Hey, I know you just did The Shining last year, and I know you hate flying. You must have six weeks of helicopter photography in these mountains. Will you let me borrow? So I have 70 hours of footage the next day, and that footage went into the footage. That was Stanley, that was his stuff.
Why Blade Runner’s unicorn ending works better
Runner Bladerand original end with unused overhead illustrations from The Clarity of the Torrance family driving through the mountains to the Overlook Hotel is an interesting piece of film history, but it doesn’t improve upon the ending of the theatrical cut. As Scott points out, this ending was dictated by the studio, and it was not a creative decision that fit well with the rest of the film. This happy ending is inconsistent with it Blade Runnerhe feels particularly fearful shortly after witnessing the moving death of Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer).
The unicorn ending that Scott envisioned and that can be seen in the director’s cut and the final cut is more ambiguous and consistent with the overall tone. It basically proves that Deckard is a replicant without saying it clearly in a clever way that is explained earlier in the story. This ending is also more open about what that revelation means for Deckard and Rachael, and what they choose to do with their new freedom.
Deckard and Rachael’s future was revealed later in the sequel Blade Runner 2049which was published 35 years later Blade Runner.
The last line of the theatrical version is Rachael saying to Deckard, “You and I were made for each other,” a far more nightmarish and less wise confirmation of Deckard being a clone that also removes any uncertainty about their future together. The last line in the unicorn ending is Deckard remembering Gaff (Edward James Olmos) telling him “It’s too bad she won’t live – but then again, who will?” Gaff’s final words are far more uplifting and well connected to the themes of Blade Runneras is the rest of the unicorn border.