June 2, 2017

Why Does the Ending of 'Blade Runner' Look Familiar? Ask Stanley Kubrick

Blade Runner Shining Opening Ridley Scott Stanley Kubrick Title Sequence Video Essay Fandor
This video shows how Blade Runner and The Shining have more in common than you might think. 

After 1982's Blade Runner tested poorly with audiences, the studio insisted on a "happy ending" and new voice-over from Harrison Ford. The film had a famously troubled production, mostly due to conflicts between the producers and director Ridley Scott. Trying to find a way to end his film, Scott turned to (who else?) Stanley Kubrick, who he knew had shot a great deal of b-roll for the opening of The ShiningThis video from Fandor explains the rest. 

According to Ridley Scott, he called Kubrick and explained his dilemma, and then, "The next day I had seventeen hours of helicopter footage; it was stunning. So the end of the film in Blade Runner, that’s Stanley Kubrick’s footage…"

"The next day I had seventeen hours of helicopter footage; it was stunning." — Ridley Scott

The next day, Kubrick called Scott and announced: "It’s Stanley. One other thing. I know you’re going through my footage right now. If there’s anything I used, you can’t have it. Got it?" Scott said that was "cool" with him, and the rest is history. Check out the two side-by-side. First, Blade Runner: 

And now, The Shining: 

And if Harrison Ford's voice-over in the Blade Runner sequence sounds a little less than enthusiastic, well, that's not a product of bad acting. Though voice-over had always featured in the film, according to the actor, neither he nor Scott were particularly happy about having to craft this new, "happy" ending: "I had no chance to participate in it, so I simply read it. I was very, very unhappy with their choices and with the quality of the material. I contested it mightily at the time. It was not an organic part of the film."

Luckily, years later, the director's vision would be restored in Blade Runner: The Final Cut, though that meant the deletion of Stanley Kubrick's Shining footage. Still, though, it's an interesting footnote to the history of two great movies.       

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3 Comments

This is so cool! Gonna put it in my pocket for the next movie trivia night.

June 2, 2017 at 12:58PM

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Liz Nord
Editor-in-Chief & Lead Producer
Documentary Filmmaker/Multi-platform Producer

Well, if your movie trivia night features people who know a thing or two about movies, you may be better off not trying to impress them with that: this fact that has been known to movie buffs for more than 3 decades.

June 2, 2017 at 6:19PM

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For the record, it wasn't shot by Kubrick but by Jeff Blyth. Blyth recieved instructions from Kubrick in the UK over the phone, which weren't too specific apparently.

June 22, 2017 at 9:03AM

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Karel Bata
Director / DP / Stereographer
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