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Blade Runner
Album Cover Art
1987 Full Moon
1993 Off World (bootleg)
Album 2 Cover Art
1994 Atlantic
Album 3 Cover Art
1995 Gongo (bootleg)
Album 4 Cover Art
2001 Off World (bootleg)
Album 5 Cover Art
2003 Esper Edition (bootleg)
Album 6 Cover Art
2007 Universal
Album 7 Cover Art
Composed, Arranged, Performed, and Produced by:

1987 Album Re-Recording Performed by:
The New American Orchestra
Labels Icon
Full Moon/Warner Brothers

Off World

Atlantic Records
(June 21st, 1994)


Off World

Esper Edition

Universal Music TV
(December 10th, 2007)
Availability Icon
This score has experienced arguably the messiest album situation of any soundtrack in history. The re-recorded Full Moon album of 1987 has always been easily attainable in the retail markets, often for discount prices. The 1994 Atlantic album was the first (and for a long time, the only) commercial representation of the original score, and this album also remained readily available for many years. The 2007 3-CD set from Universal softened to about $30 in value not long after its release, with used copies at $20.

There have been so many bootleg variants of this score that it serves little purpose to go into detail about them all; most contain contents similar to their contemporary peers. The Off World, Gongo, and Esper bootlegs (the last of which denounced by those who actually press legitimate Esper Editions) are the most famous, though Deck Art and Los Angeles, November 2019 bootlegs, among others, also exist. Variations within even these bootlegs are sometimes found, often because of the poor English skills of those making alterations to them. The original Off World bootleg of 1993 was the only one to receive significant distribution through soundtrack specialty outlets, and once illegal downloading became pervasive in the late 2000's, the value of the hardcopies of all the bootlegs began to diminish.
Nominated for a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe.
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Availability | Awards | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... on the 1994 Atlantic album or, if you're a devoted fan of the film, on one of the post-2000, fan-engineered bootlegs for an adequate, but still unsatisfactory survey of the new age music from a cult classic.

Avoid it... on all of the albums if you expect any of them to give you a decent presentation of Vangelis' original recording in consistent sound quality, for this highly overrated, largely ambient work isn't worth the trouble.
Review Icon
WRITTEN 9/27/09
Blade Runner: (Vangelis) Readers of Filmtracks have long mentioned the lack of any editorial commentary about Vangelis' memorable and, for some, groundbreaking new age score for Blade Runner at this site. There has always been good reason for its omission from the official discussion, however, because Blade Runner is perhaps the single most frustrating piece of film music to have ever tantalized and perpetually eluded listeners through the decades that have followed its debut. The score's questionable application in the film and its long, unsatisfactory history on album have defined it as a mess of a proportion perhaps not seen in any other place in the history of this genre of music. Those who have admired the soundtracks of Evangelos Odyssey Papathanassiou through the years are well aware of the disgruntlement that the translation of his music to album form yields, but the cult status of Blade Runner, a production superior to most of Vangelis' other collaborations, gives this particular score special meaning for many collectors. Director Ridley Scott's 1982 vision of a bleak future for Los Angeles remains very well respected for its thoughtful commentary about existential matters and the relation between humanity and the robots it creates to serve its needs. Harrison Ford, at the height of his career, plays a type of cop known as a "blade runner," hunting down ("retiring") the robots ("replicants") that have gone rogue and returned to Earth after escaping the perils of space exploitation and wars. The cinematography and art direction of Scott's rendering of L.A. in 2019 was the clinching factor in the success of Blade Runner, despite a fair number of fallacies of logic that present themselves whenever an apocalyptic version of the future is set in such a near term. Scott himself has obsessed about this film considerably through the years, seeking a level of perfection in several different edits of it that extends beyond even his bizarre fascination with altering seemingly everything he has ever done. He finally achieved peace of mind in regards to Blade Runner in 2007 (by his own admission), when his 25th anniversary director's cut was released to fans still eager for another incarnation of the concept.

As most film score collectors know, Scott has a nasty habit of badly editing, rearranging, or outright replacing the original music in his films, and while most of the attention in these regards rests with Jerry Goldsmith's frustrating outings with Scott, Vangelis' music for Blade Runner was not immune to the "Scott effect" either. The tone of Vangelis' work for the film was almost purely atmospheric, following a "stream of consciousness" approach to the new age sounds provided for many of the film's individual scenes. To spice up the musical environment of Blade Runner, Scott licensed music from Gail Laughton's "Harps of the Ancient Temples" and Japanese group Ensemble Nipponia's traditional pieces, among other source items, aiding in the ambiguous, multicultural landscape in Los Angeles' dark future. "Memories of Green" came from Vangelis' own 1980 album "See You Later." The employment of new age sounds in films was a trend made popular in part by Vangelis' use of sequencers in both this score and Chariots of Fire the year before. Each cue in this kind of score plays like a separate new age track on an album typical to that genre, with only Vangelis' distinct electronic and vocal textures providing any sense of overarching continuity to the works. The most interesting aspect of Blade Runner in particular is the fact that so many people love the film and get hung up on the storied history of this score on album that few actually stop to fully consider the merit of the music as written for the film in the first place. In the case of Vangelis' later scores for 1492: Conquest of Paradise and Alexander, an immense sense of resonant beauty carries the music well enough to compensate for the lack of structural depth or coordination across the entire work. In a basic sense, if the atmosphere is gorgeously harmonic enough, the tossing aside of usual film music conventions isn't as troublesome. Both of those later scores, however, had trouble fitting well in various scenes on screen, and Blade Runner suffers from the same problem. What works on a new age album doesn't necessarily capture the nuance of a particular scene, and there are points in Blade Runner when Vangelis' music simply distracts from the underlying emotional impact of the character interaction. The "Love Theme" especially has a way of forcing a noir-like element into the mix without convincing sincerity.

Despite the handful of scenes in Blade Runner not complimented by Vangelis' music, the composer does capture the other-worldly aspect of the picture in a general way. The score features a fair amount of dissonance by Vangelis standards, often employing seemingly random keyboarded lines accented by a variety of tingling percussion effects. These higher elements lend a slightly metallic sound to the treble and are therefore somewhat futuristic, but rarely do these sounds combine with the sequenced portions with any satisfaction. A variety of vocal tones are employed, from the masculine, full choir environment more notable in his later scores to solo operatic performances and other vocalized singing in manipulated form. A solo saxophone identifies the relations between Ford's lead and Sean Young's character, though this instrument is seemingly distorted electronically to the degree less striking than in Robert Rodriguez's Sin City two decades later. The voices are at times distorted intentionally, though with the official album presentations of Blade Runner containing so much distantly placed dialogue from the film within the score tracks, some listeners may not notice any intentional alterations for artistic purposes. Thematically, Blade Runner is not completely devoid of identity, but like Vangelis' other famous scores, it doesn't elaborate well (or at all) on any particular idea. The aforementioned love theme is as adequately soothing as anything could be in the score's otherwise drab environment, but its usage is restricted to the same repeated fragments of recording. The composer recorded a separate, operatic theme for the character that has nothing to do with the main idea. A descending figure heard prominently in "Main Titles" does not become a cohesive element in the score. A redemptive, but faint melody accompanying the gripping death scene for Rutger Hauer's antagonist-turned-sympathetic and the accompanying "I've seen things" monologue is singular as well. Vangelis saves the score's most memorable theme for the end credits, during which a highly propulsive rhythm drives a surprisingly harmonic theme (complete with harp and timpani effects) in a manner that the action scenes in the film could have used. The theme is extremely simplistic and has no noteworthy secondary phrase, interlude, or bridge (however you want to call it), but it stands apart after an otherwise anonymous listening experience.

Ratings Icon
Average: 2.96 Stars
***** 128 5 Stars
**** 132 4 Stars
*** 134 3 Stars
** 120 2 Stars
* 146 1 Stars
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Best Album Representation
William Wilczak - November 26, 2015, at 12:06 a.m.
1 comment  (851 views)
FVSR Reviews Blade Runner
Brendan Cochran - March 19, 2015, at 5:21 p.m.
1 comment  (1065 views)
John Eduard - December 18, 2013, at 6:44 a.m.
1 comment  (1489 views)
Wow, I have never disagreed more with Christian
SmokeyPSD - October 25, 2009, at 12:59 a.m.
1 comment  (2382 views)
Bladerunner Blues and The City
Roman (formerly Rally V) - October 19, 2009, at 1:29 p.m.
1 comment  (1811 views)
Where's the rest of the stars?   Expand >>
cs^tbl - October 16, 2009, at 12:17 p.m.
7 comments  (5051 views)
Newest: November 11, 2009, at 4:47 p.m. by
Richard Kleiner

Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
1987 Full Moon Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 33:15
• 1. Love Theme (4:12)
• 2. Main Title (5:01)
• 3. One More Kiss, Dear (4:00)
• 4. Memories of Green (4:50)
• 5. End Title (4:17)
• 6. Blade Runner Blues (4:38)
• 7. Farewell (3:10)
• 8. End Title Reprise (3:08)
1993 Off World Bootleg Tracks   ▼Total Time: 72:22
1994 Atlantic Album Tracks   ▼Total Time: 57:33
1995 Gongo Bootleg Tracks   ▼Total Time: 70:17
2001 Off World Bootleg Tracks   ▼Total Time: 102:49
2003 Esper Edition Bootleg Tracks   ▼Total Time: 112:54
2007 Universal Music Set Tracks   ▼Total Time: 149:39

Notes Icon
The inserts of all the retail albums (and some of the bootlegs) contain information about the score or film. The 1987 album with the re-recording offers an overview of the film, composer, and recording. The 2007 set contains extensive credits and a retrospective note about the film and score by Ridley Scott. The 1994 album contains the following note, written in April of that year by Vangelis:

"Most of the music contained in this album originates from recordings I made in London in 1982, whilst working on the score for the film Blade Runner. Finding myself unable to release these recordings at the time; it is with great pleasure that I am able to do so now. Some of the pieces contained will be known to you from the Original Soundtrack of the film, whilst others are appearing here for the first time. Looking back at Ridley Scott's powerful and evocative pictures left me as stimulated as before, and made the recompiling of this music, today, an enjoyable experience."
Copyright © 2009-2021, Filmtracks Publications. All rights reserved.
The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten
or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Blade Runner are Copyright © 1987, 1994, 2007, Full Moon/Warner Brothers, Off World (Bootleg), Atlantic Records, Gongo (Bootleg), Off World (Bootleg), Esper Edition (Bootleg), Universal Music TV and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/27/09 (and not updated significantly since).
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