Blade Runner Storyboards cover

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s been four years since the arrival of Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 sci-fi cult classic, Blade Runner, itself based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?  Since then we’ve seen two looks behind the scenes of the film: a worthy tribute to the artwork behind the production with Blade Runner 2049 Interlinked–The Art and The Art and Soul of Blade Runner 2049, a more general look at the entire production.   Fans of the Blade Runner franchise and anyone who has ever wanted to know how to storyboard an entire film are in for a treat with the next look at the production of the film, this time at the process of cinematography.  Storyboard artists Sam Hudecki and Darryl Henley’s Blade Runner 2049: The Storyboards is a rare glimpse at all the storyboards for the film, a director and camera tool rarely released for any production.  It’s out now and available here at Amazon from Titan Books.  

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You might compare this book with the director’s commentary on a DVD or Blu-ray, as Hudecki and Henley discuss each scene as the story develops above via the successive storyboard images.  They share the ideas they discussed in sessions with director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins.  As Villeneuve notes in a foreword to the volume, the storyboards take priority over the screenplay, but nature has priority over the storyboards.  In other words, he’s not glued to the storyboards, but they create the journey that guides the production through the filmmaking process. 

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The challenge for the visionaries behind Blade Runner 2049 was finding the right fit between nostalgia and innovation–piecing together architecture, technology, and design to reflect a 1980s vision of the future–specifically 2019.  That had to be considered when they designed today’s vision of tomorrow.  So they had to look back to look forward. 

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Scattered throughout the hundreds of storyboard images are snippets of scripts and full color concept art reproductions to help illustrate the final interpretation used in the film.  Readers will see early ideas for the futuristic cars called spinners, weaponry, future landscapes and cityscapes, and locations like the bar and casino, K’s apartment, the Wallace corporation, and Deckard’s apartment.

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Hudecki and Henley also point out ideas viewers may have looked over, subtleties they baked into the film as homages or tributes or simply clever attentions to detail.  All of this to take another step in the current vision of the future began by futurist Syd Mead decades ago.

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Read Blade Runner 2049: The Storyboards along with screening the film for comparison and to get even more out of the book.  It’s like a crash course in cinematography and movie worldbuilding.  See what Villeneuve, Deakins, Hudecki, and Henley see as the future from the vantage of the early 21st century.  Check out Blade Runner 2049: The Storyboards, available now here at Amazon.