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All Items Blade Runner (1982) Early production sketch

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Early production sketch



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This is an early charcoal production sketch (not a repro of any kind) depicting a scene that takes place in the "sidewalk diner", later known in the final film as the "White Dragon noodle bar" .
The sketch is from the great Mentor Huebner (1917-2001), production illustrator on the film. His numerous film credits include, among others, Forbidden Planet (1956) and DUNE (1984).

The seller I got it from wasn't aware this sketch was from BLADE RUNNER, so I had to do some homework (with the help of two fellow collectors and an Huebner expert) before I could share it here…

When you first look at it you don't instantly think of BLADE RUNNER… However, when you look closer, some key elements featured in the final version of the film are already there :

1- The scene shows two almost naked women at its center. Denudate (or almost denudate) characters can also be seen in BR production paintings by Syd Mead. I can't really figure out what was the idea behind this (constant warm weather at street level or futuristic fashion, or even both ?) but you find similar characters in at least three Mead paintings.
The idea was not entirely lost in the final cut where strip dancers are briefly seen performing above street level and Zhora, Pris and even Batty are almost naked in some of their scenes.

2- The fight between the two women depicted at the center of the sketch could be a fight between two hookers (extras dressed as hookers can be seen in a behind the scenes photo) or even Zhora trying to escape the "Snake Pit" club through a sidewalk diner...

3- The sidewalk diner featured in this sketch looks like an early version of the one seen in the film. I guess the process required to achieve the set actually built on the Warner Bros backlot was rather long because you can see different versions of it in Huebner or Mead illustrations already seen in various books or magazines devoted to BLADE RUNNER.
Anyhow you already have some architectural elements we'll see in later illustrations (or even in the film) in that sketch. It's obvious if you consider separately the foreground and background of the image :
A- The intricately detailed pillar at the corner of the street / Sidewalk diner reminds of bigger and more baroque pillars seen in Mead illustrations and the film.
B- A large blank square that looks like a giant billboard in the background, similar to giant video billboards close to street level seen in Mead illustrations and the film.
C- A counter where people are eating, like in the film opening scene featuring Deckard (Harrison Ford).
D- Giant pillars / structures (on the left of image) that remind of architectural elements seen in the background of one Mead painting.

Somebody also underscored that some of the architectural elements (the ceiling in the foreground, for example) in Huebner's sketch looked almost biomechanical, something rather close to Giger's work seen in ALIEN (Space Jockey's cockpit floor)… It would make sense since BLADE RUNNER began pre-production a few months after ALIEN was released.

4- The character on the left of sketch wears what looks like a skullcap. Skullcaps of all kinds, sizes and colors were worn by numerous extras on screen… and even in later production illustrations by Mentor Huebner.

5- Last but not least, this scene is depicted in a version of the BLADE RUNNER script written by Hampton Fancher and dated July 24, 1980. It's on page 54 and it says "She (Zhora) comes to an intersection and turns out of the mall onto a less crowded street. She glances over her shoulder as she breaks into a run and runs right into a couple of pedestrians." (Please look at last picture for a more complete description of this scene in the aforementioned script)

The sketch is in very good condition, considering its age. It was drawn on a large (and very thin) sheet of paper, then glued to a large, white, rigid "Cadapack" panel. (maybe for easy presentation to the director and Production designer)

Added: 12-22-2012 - Viewed: 7411 times.
Last updated: 02-27-2013

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