Two BLADE RUNNER Endings and Why They're Lame
Although I found the 1982 science fiction film Blade Runner to be rather boring when I watched it the first time, the film has been growing on me. Even if the adventures of Deckard and company aren't all that entertaining, the concepts, the world, and at least some of the characters (Sebastian, Roy, Rachael) are interesting.
The version we watched for the Myopia podcast episode was the final cut, not the theatrical release. I knew the theatrical version had a more upbeat, commercial ending forced on Ridley Scott by the studio heads, so I got curious and looked it up on YouTube. Here goes...
Although Tyrell's earlier reference to Rachael being "special" could explain why she doesn't have the Replicants' typical limited lifespan, it seems like something they shoved in there to give Deckard and Rachael a happy ending.
(Of course, given Rachael's vulnerability as a shoot-on-sight fugitive and consequent dependence on Deckard, who at the very least takes advantage of her traumatized mental state after she learns her entire life is a lie and straight-up kills someone and who at worst outright rapes her, it might not be that happy for her.)
But the biggest problem for me is the world-building. The climate of this world's 2019 has changed so severely that Los Angeles is chronically rainy and nasty like Seattle, with real animals being rare and expensive. By the time of the sequel in 2049, there've been "ecosystem collapses" that results in Los Angeles being a snowy (!) barren desert with the only living things besides people wild worms and bees and bugs being raised for food and little if any plant life. Canadian science fiction author Bruno Lombardi theorized here the climate change in the original film could have been caused by an asteroid impact, which if it landed in the ocean would evaporate massive amounts of water into the atmosphere. The novel Lucifer's Hammer depicts worldwide rainstorms for weeks afterward, which much of the rain being salty from the ocean. Southern California might climatically resemble the Pacific Northwest due to lots of water being added from the post-impact rains and circulating in the area for decades, or it might be even more desolate owing to salt from evaporated seawater poisoning the land, but it looks entirely too normal in this scene.
And there's an alternate cut of the theatrical ending that managed to be even worse. Here it is:
The shot quality looks better, but the characterization is ridiculous. As one of the commenters points out, Rachael sounds "retarded" when in the film she's depicted as sensitive and clever. Even though at this point she knows she's a Replicant and the memories of her whole pre-human life are false, it's not like she's going to forget her people skills or experience a massive IQ drop. After all, she knows how to play Deckard's piano even though she knows she never actually took piano lessons and she's able to shoot and kill the warrior Replicant Leon despite not likely having in-person shooting lessons either.
(Plus this is the best day of her life? She's just found out her entire life is a lie in a crude and insensitive way, she fled the relative safety of the Tyrell Corporation to become a hunted fugitive, she killed another thinking entity to save the life of said crude and insensitive man, said man rapes her, the fact the slimy Gaff found her alone in Deckard's apartment raises all sorts of unpleasant questions, and now they're two city-dwellers having to hide out in an unfamiliar wilderness. This has been a bad day. This fan-fic here has Rachael's thoughts on why she sought out Deckard and why she comes to love him, but assuming Ridley Scott had something like this in mind for why this would be her "best day," it's not really clear. And without that clarity she seems like a moron.)
Seriously, Rachael was acting so ridiculous it's actually insulting.