Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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"Fiery the angels fell. Deep thunder rolled around their shores... burning with the fires of Orc."

There are spoilers ahead, albeit for a film 25 years old.

Despite the fact that I have often mentioned that Blade Runner is one of my favorite films, you will perhaps forgive me a certain level of cynicism with respect to the titling of this 25th anniversary version "The Final Cut." I was somewhat wary of Scott returning to make yet another edit, especially one that would feature a bit of digital re-jiggering, but as I said, because this version is meant to co-exist with the others, I would give it a whirl when it finally appeared on disc... but the chance to see Blade Runner on the big screen, whatever this version ended up being like, was too juicy a prospect to turn down. And it was a completely flawless print, detailed and grainless.

As for "The Final Cut" itself... well...

With respect to the edit itself, it is, to date, the best version of the film I think I've seen. Unlike the 1992 "Director's Cut" (which, despite the monicker, is ironically the only version of the film that Ridley Scott did not personally work on, although it was done with his blessing), this isn't just another version of the film with slight changes, this is the successful integration of the different material. Several lines from the workprint version that didn't appear in the American, European or "Director's Cut" versions are now included... most strikingly, Roy's (Rutger Hauer) signature "I want more life, fucker" has reverted to the "I want more life, father" of the workprint (and television broadcasts). The latter line is, frankly, much more appropriate to the scene and the thematic concerns of the film. Bryant (M. Emmet Walsh) also accounts for the missing Replicant (originally there was to be another android named Mary, but her scene was dropped before any of them were shot, but not before the police station scene had been filmed).

The extra violence from the European theatrical version, missing from the American and "Director's Cut" versions, has been reinstated, and while the moments are, indeed, quite nasty, I have to say that the stigmata imagery at the end is much more effective in undiluted form. The unicorn scene is different from the (very basic) one that appeared in the "Director's Cut." Some of the workprint edits are in evidence in both a few establishing shots (most noticeably of the Snake Pit) and in the shortening of a few shots that in the original American and European versions contained the voice-over, which improves over the sometimes lingering "Director's Cut," which stripped the voice-over but didn't compensate editorially. There is no longer a slight dead space to accommodate spoken lines which are no longer there, and as a result it doesn't feel as though the narration is 'missing,' as it were.

As for the digitally produced stuff... as near as I can tell, this doesn't amount to much... here's what I noticed:
  • The shot of Batty looking up as Leon (Brion James) raps on the phone booth window was cribbed in all versions from the scene in Tyrell's (Joe Turkel) bedroom; the shot has been slightly zoomboxed, Tyrell's hand has been removed and the background now matches the shot that immediately follows.

  • When Deckard (Harrison Ford) traces the scale he finds in Leon's bathtub to Abdul Ben Hassan (uncredited) the lip movements were altered to match the dialogue heard.

  • Joanna Cassidy's stunt double was very apparent during the retirement of Zhora, but in "The Final Cut" this was corrected digitally. It looked like they also corrected the mismatch in wound patterns from one shot to the next.

  • The sky behind the dove in the "Tears in Rain" scene now matches what you see throughout the rest of the movie.

These alterations are cosmetic, and actually do work in the film's favor. And, since all previous versions of the film are being made available alongside this one, the original form of the shots will be preserved. So there is no reason to be morally opposed to this. And I'm really not.

Of all the versions of Blade Runner I've seen - and I've seen most of them many times - I think that this time they got it right.

What was most apparent seeing this film at long last on the big screen is how brilliant Rutger Hauer is. Roy Batty is strong, intelligent and extremely dangerous... but one never loses sight of the fact that he is a child. This has been intensified in "The Final Cut" with some of the additional lines from the workprint, but it has always been present in the film, and it is what allows us to understand his actions at the very end. In a sense, Roy's self-crucifixion makes us all the more sympathetic by not only focusing audience attention on his vulnerability, but also the sad truth that no hell or heaven that he can imagine would have room for him in it. At its core, Blade Runner is about Roy's existential nightmare, one which both Rachel and Deckart (as with the "Director's Cut," there is no ambiguity in this version with respect to Deckart's nature) must also come to grips with.

Oh, and they fixed the wobble on the end title scroll that was introduced in the '92 "Director's Cut."
Tags: blade runner, cinema, science fiction
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