In addition to being considered one of the greatest science fiction films of all time, "Blade Runner" is well-known for the controversy involving the studio and the film's financiers rewriting parts of the script and adding scenes. It wasn't until 2007; 25 years after the film's initial release; that the director, Ridley Scott, received full artistic control. Most would agree, that "Blade Runner" is a prime example of studios and producers in Hollywood taking a solid motion picture and changing it against the director's artistic advice.
"Blade Runner" is loosely adapted from the Philip K. Dick novel, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep," and tells the story of a former police officer (Harrison Ford) asked to hunt down and retire (kill) four replicants (an android designed to be nearly indistinguishable from a human) that came to Earth illegally in an attempt to get their creator to make their lives longer than four years. A police officer in charge of killing replicants is referred to as a blade runner (from where the film gets its title). Through the film's representation of reality and existentialism, it examines what it means to be a human.
One of the biggest and most impactful changes that the studio made to the film was in adding a "happy ending" to the end of the film where Ford's character, Rick Deckard, and a replicant with whom he has fallen in love safely escape the city. Furthermore, it is revealed that his replicant girlfriend was not coded to die after four years. This "happy ending," particularly the latter portion, truly ruins one of the main themes of the film: that whatever life one has, human or otherwise, should be treasured. In reference to Deckard's replicant girlfriend, another police officer says, "It's too bad she won't live, but then again, who does?" The emotional impact that this line would has on the audience when they realize that she may only have a year or less to live is completely undermined by the unnecessary "happy ending."
Luckily, well sort of, in 1992, a "Director's Cut" of "Blade Runner" was released. In reality, the director wasn't as involved in the creation of the Director's Cut as is implied. However, this edition did remove the "happy ending" as well as voice-overs that were written by financiers and never approved by Ridley Scott. In addition, a brief scene was added that implied that Deckard himself was also a replicant. This adds a slightly different feeling to the end of the film, making the audience wonder how long he has left.
In 2007, Scott finally got the chance to show the world what he intended the film to be. "The Final Cut" is very similar to the Director's Cut with a few longer scenes and the reinsertion of some violent scenes taken out for the U.S. release.
When considering the way in which the studio changed the film, one must wonder what makes them think that they know what is better for the film than the director. Don't they care about making a good piece of art? Isn't that the reason the hired the director and the writers? Or is it all about money? Did they think that their additions would make the film more profitable? If the answer to the last question is "yes," which it, unfortunately, may be. It is just more evidence that people care far more about money then they do about art.