Which Cut Is Blade Runner 2049 a Sequel To?

There are key thematic differences between the theatrical and director's versions of the first film that Blade Runner 2049 has to address.

Since long before the internet made such discussions commonplace, science fiction fans have argued over which version of Blade Runner is the one, true story. Ridley Scott was famously unhappy with the original theatrical cut (the one with Deckard’s voiceovers), and later delivered a Director’s Cut (in 1992) and a Final Cut (in 2007). There are key thematic differences between the theatrical cut and Scott’s later visions, notably dealing with Deckard’s humanity.

So when Blade Runner 2049 director Denis Vileneuve met with reporters at San Diego Comic-Con, someone inevitably had to ask which version of Blade Runner is Blade Runner 2049 a sequel to. “The thing is that I was raised with the first one,” Vileneuve said, referring to the original theatrical cut. “There was one Blade Runner at the time. I remember seeing the first movie and falling deeply in love with it.” 

But his love for the original doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for nuance, or that he can’t acknowledge the intent of Scott’s later versions of the film. “The key to making [Blade Runner 2049] was to be in between,” Vileneuve said. “[The theatrical version] is the story of a human falling in love with an artificial being, and the story of [the director’s cut] is a replicant who doesn’t know he’s a replicant and slowly discovers his own identity. Those are two different stories.”

In order to tell his story without alienating fans who prefer one version of the story, the director went back to the source material, Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? for inspiration. “I felt that the key to deal with that was in the original novel,” Vileneuve said. “In the novel the characters are doubting themselves and they aren’t sure if they are replicants or not. From time to time the detectives are running scans on themselves to make sure that they are human. I love that idea so I decided that in the movie Deckard is unsure, as we are, of what his identity is. I love mystery.”

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As for which version Harrison Ford and Scott consider to be the truth? “Harrison and Ridley are still arguing about that,” Vileneuve says. “If you put them in the same room, they start to talk very loudly about it.”

Blade Runner 2049 will reveal at least some of its mysteries when it opens on October 6, 2017.

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