The stunning visuals and moody noir atmosphere of Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” would be a bleak as some of the off-world environments experienced by Roy Batty without the brilliant break-through sounds composed by John Vangelis for the film.
“Blade Runner,” an adaptation of Phillip K Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electronic Sheep,” premiered in 1982 with Harrison Ford in the role Rick Deckard, a detective charged with hunting down ‘replicants’ (artificial people created for off-world tasks, banned on Earth) that illegally return to earth. Dystopian dreary scenes (perfect for the noir-style story telling) are the backdrop for this brooding science fiction thriller. The film also starred Rutger Haur as Roy Batty (leader of the fugitive Nexus 6 replicants) and Sean Young as Rachel.
However there is one ‘star’ of this futuristic film that played a vital role in painting the mood and tying the scenes together: the amazing, award nominated score.
While Vangelis composed and performed the ambient music for the movie, the first soundtrack release was actually an orchestral adaptation of the synthesized score performed by the New American Orchestra.
The LP included seven instrumental pieces and the vocal “One More Kiss Dear” for a total of 33 minutes of music. This was a poor substitute for the rich and futuristic sounds of the actual Vangelis score.
It was not until 1994 that the Official Vangelis was released. This 12 track CD doubled the amount of music of the orchestral release, adding songs intended for the film that didn’t make the final cut. The album reached number 14 on the Billboard charts.
In December of 2007 fans were given the ultimate Christmas present: a trio of CDs entitled “Blade Runner Trilogy, 25th Anniversary.” Released on Universal Records this ultimate collection coincided with the re-release of the film on DVD -and now in Blu-ray (packaged in a futuristic “Blade Runner” brief case – included were three variations of the film, a toy police “spinner” car, a silver representation of an origami unicorn, a lucite encased lenticular of Harrison Ford as Deckard with gun drawn, and a folder with concept art from the film).
The first disc is the same score that was released in 1994. Disc two contained music that was not included the original score release, a dozen extra tracks for a total of 43 minutes of “new” music. Disc three held another dozen tunes that were not part of the movie, but were inspired by the film (48 minutes total). This is the most complete score available to date, though not fully all of the music used in the score.
2012: A fourth CD of music from the film was released for the 30th anniversary of the movie’s release, performed by Edgar Rothermich (and not Vangelis). This 17 title CD appears to include additional cuts not found on the 25th Anniversary edition with the goal of producing a soundtrack that better follows the film timeline.
Subscribers to Amazon music can stream both the 25th Anniversary CDs and the Edgar Rothermich 30th Anniversary version as part of their subscription.
With “Blade Runner 2049” now filming in Budapest, fans are hoping for the same epic music that set tone of the original move. No official word has yet been released regarding the score, but elements of the original score can be heard in the trailer:
The 3 Disc Anniversary Edition soundtrack is still sold on Amazon (click HERE)
…as is the Ultimate Collector’s Blu-ray set.