By: Nick Gambino

Ok, it’s Thursday and you know what that means – Blade Runner 2049 hits theaters tonight! Breathe. Breathe. I know it’s been 35 years in the making but let’s not ruin it by having a heart attack before we’ve even had a chance to watch the thing.

The Ridley Scott-directed Blade Runner is a veritable classic and for good reason. With a perfect blend of 1940s noir and Sci-Fi set in a dystopian future filled with degraded technology, the film uses analogy to make comments on the cruelty of man while tackling subjects like prejudice, slavery, fear and the dangers of AI.

Now, there are some things you’re going to want to do before you head off to the theaters this weekend. Well, one thing really and that is – watch Blade Runner. I’ve not yet seen the new one but I can all but guarantee, without watching the original ’82 film you’ll be lost.

From all indications the Ryan Gosling vehicle is another intelligent not-dumbed-down Sci-Fi noir. It will be a thinker that takes a few times through to get a proper grasp on the levels in which it’s working. That’s the case with the original at least.

So if you haven’t seen the ’82 film and are just interested in seeing the newest Gosling picture or if you haven’t seen it in quite a while then it’s time to get on that.

But wait! There are 8 different versions of the film, 5 of which are readily available to watch. But only 3 are worth deciding between. Which one should you watch? What’s the difference? Don’t worry I got you.

The 3 versions you should be looking at are:

  • S. Theatrical Cut (1982)
  • Director’s Cut (1992)
  • Final Cut (2007)

The Theatrical Cut is of course the version that played in theaters when it was released in 1982. This one has an added voiceover from Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) to add to the noir feel. We see a “ride off into the sunset” ending that the studio demanded in order to lighten the tone of the film.

The Director’s Cut is a bit of a misnomer as Ridley Scott wasn’t actually involved in this edit. Though he may not have had a hand in it, this one was closer to the vision he had for the film. The main changes included deep-sixing the voiceover and Hollywood ending. Instead of a satisfying ending we’re left on more of an ambiguous tone which is aided by an added scene earlier in the film that raises a fascinating question about Deckard. I’ll leave it at that for the sake of avoiding spoilers.

The Final Cut is similar to the Director’s Cut but this one was actually supervised by Scott. The added scene that raises the question about Deckard is a bit longer here with some additional scenes pulled from an earlier international version. We still see the ambiguous ending as well. The Final Cut is digitally remastered and looks way better than anything else they’ve put out.

Taking all of that into account we have a clear winner. You should watch The Final Cut before seeing Blade Runner 2049. It’s a better quality film and includes scenes that will most likely tie into the new one.

But if you’re like me and sustain yourself on a strict diet of cinema then you’re going to want to check out the other versions out there. There’s an Ultimate Collector’s Edition floating around that has 5 prints of the movie.

That’s only 10 hours of viewing. 9am to 7pm on a Saturday and you’re done. Easy.


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.