Monday, December 20, 2010

Blade Runner: The 'Final Cut'

Blade Runner's "final cut" is to be released as a single Blu-ray disk on January 4th of next year.

It can be seen now, as part of a 5-disc collector's edition, which was released in December of 2007. My library acquired the 2007 set, so I've spent the weekend seeing the film in most of its variants: the director's workprint, the international cut, and the final cut, as well as some of the extra/bonus material. I haven't yet had a chance to see the domestic cut and the 1992 director's cut.

The final cut's lighting seemed darker -- contrastier -- in comparison with the earlier cuts. It has two "improved" scenes which I wouldn't have known about if I hadn't also watched some of the extra material: Some out-of-sync lip movement by Harrison Ford's character, Deckard, was corrected (by Harrison Ford's son) and Zhora's "retirement" was re-shot. The final cut also has a completely new scene of the dove (Roy's soul?) flying away (to heaven?). The final cut has eliminated the voice-overs by Harrison Ford, which were unnecessary explanatory material and considered disruptive by Harrison Ford and many fans of the film. But unlike the international edition's "happy" ending, the final cut ends sooner, more ambiguously.

What's the film about? Four replicants, human robots made by Tyrell Corporation, with a four-year lifespan, have illegally come to Earth in search of a longer life. So, a Blade Runner, Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), is tasked with "retiring" them. Leon and Zhora bleed like humans, then there are two: Roy and Pris. Roy finagles an audience with Mr. Tyrell, his Maker, and kills him after learning there is no way his life can be extended. Pris is then shot dead by Deckard. Roy then pursues Deckard through the Bradbury Building, and just as Deckard is about to fall from a nearby building, Roy saves him, then sits down in the rain to die, telling Deckard sadly (stoically, if you prefer), "I've seen things you wouldn't believe ... . All those moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain."

What I like about the film are the scenes of L.A. streets in 2019. They are dark, grey, blue and black, peopled by absolutely medieval characters, with bright, colorful neon signs.

Some people who talk about the film like to speculate about whether Deckard is a replicant. Perhaps we're all replicants, living here, somewhere "off-world."

Isn't it interesting that Roy kills his Maker?

Rachael is a replicant who believed she was human; you can believe that she and Deckard live happily ever after, if you like.

The film's only failure of imagination, from my point of view, is that the film's TVs and monitors aren't the stuff of 2010, much less 2019; they're more relics of the 1980s. They might have taken an idea from how they lighted the high-rise, in the picture, above, to anticipate the flat-panel displays of today. On the other hand, the film's see-around-the-corner photo enhancement (when Deckard examines Leon's pictures) may have been prescient.

Blade Runner made the AFI's top 100 list in 2007. Just barely ... it's #97.

Should you wait for the "final cut" to be released as a single disk in January? Not if you're a fan of this film. The price difference between the 5-disk set and the single-disk is about $10 at Amazon, and the 5-disk set has a lot more to see. It's a film you can watch more than once.

For some more holiday film tips, you might enjoy my post about Superheroes, here.

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