‘Blade Runner 2049’: How Editing Created Its Challenging and Uncompromising Dreamscape

Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner” sequel honored and expanded the world of Ridley Scott’s original, with no small help from the narrative skills of Joe Walker, his go-to editor since “Sicario” and “Arrival.” The sequel is more complex than its predecessor; at 163 minutes, it’s a long, slow, and poetic journey, which didn’t connect with enough moviegoers in its opening weekend ($32.7 million). For those with the patience, the payoff makes it all worthwhile.

Creating a Dreamscape

“Denis often said to me that the movie should be like a dream,” said Walker (who earned an Oscar nomination for “12 Years a Slave”). “There’s something in the unconventional pacing of the film that tries to do that. Tension is maintained, but it’s stretched, allowing time for the audience to really immerse in these landscapes, not to let events pass mechanically by.

“This is a world that is like a patient etherized upon a table — on K’s [Ryan Gosling’s] rooftop you see adverts of faces in repose and you hear a woman’s gentle, hypnotic voice calming the population into sleep.”

Blade Runner 2049

Blade Runner 2049

In this world, 30 years after the first movie, blade runner K tries to solve a mystery that leads him back to former blade runner Deckard (Harrison Ford). Crucially, the investigation also throws K into an existential crisis. And, once again, humanity is linked to memories, which also links “Blade Runner 2049” to “Arrival.”

The challenge for Villeneuve was maintaining this hypnotic dreamscape while still keeping it fast enough for today’s audience. “When we viewed the first assembly, it was broken down, because of its length, into two halves,” Walker said. “The break, just at the point before K goes on the run, always felt like way more than an arbitrary convenience for viewing the cut. It seemed to mark a genuine part two.”

Both halves start with an awakening — a giant eye opens the movie  — and then a revelatory jolt. “In this second part, K has come through an initiation and his desires have changed,” Walker said.

Part of that initiation includes a bizarre visit to a young scientist, Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Juri), who makes memories for replicants. She lives in a sterile-looking glass room and we view her work as imaginary dreamscapes. “There’s a strange sense of somebody being secluded like that,” Walker said. “It’s like a glass egg.”

"Blade Runner 2049"

“Blade Runner 2049”

What Walker found interesting was quite a selection of takes for Gosling when K goes to Ana’s lab to analyze a particular memory. “And in that moment there was one outstanding take and it’s the only one where he just loses it,” Walker said. “He kicks the chair across the table. And I thought it was so impactful because he’s played it down so much.

“And I was trying to get into the pacing, a sense of form about how to go on. At that moment, it just flips for him. He’s in trouble and he’s a renegade and he has to leave. And that’s how the story’s in two parts: Before that moment and after that moment.”

(Excerpt) Read More at: IndieWire.com

‘Blade Runner 2049’: How Editing Created Its Challenging and Uncompromising Dreamscape

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