Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

11 January 2008

Blade Runner: The Final Cut, dir. Ridley Scott (1982/2007)

NIKKI says:
The first time I watched Blade Runner was at the Allen Theatre in Annville, PA, with Steve and his brother, Mike. I fell asleep. I can't remember why, exactly. But I missed much of the movie, and, therefore, really didn't know all that much about it, apart from stuff Steve has mentioned over the years. Basically, it was a film I considered an indisputable classic, not because of my own opinion, but how revered it is, and, now, of course, because it merits a massive DVD release featuring five version of the thing. Does any film need five versions? What other movies out there would fans want to watch five times in five different ways? Maybe Star Wars... and Lord of the Rings.

Anyway, after viewing the movie again, I realised just why it's so revered. It really is a great picture, from storytelling to visuals. Hard to believe, sometimes, it was made back at the beginning of the '80s when "special effects" were just cheesy neon shooty lights and wires and stuff. This didn't have any cheesiness to it at all, really, which surprised me. I was also taken by the seriousness of the whole thing -- illegal robots inhabiting Los Angeles in 2019 and a rogue-ish cop is sent to destroy them! The potential for unintentional comedy is written all over that, but this was gripping. It was emotionally scarring. That's really what I'm taking away from it was just how sad I felt at the end that the replicants had to die. I was cursing the society that built them more than anything, which is likely the point. And, in turn, Harrison Ford's character wasn't really a hero. He was sad, too, in that he went about his robot slaying really without question. A job, sure, but more than that, especially after learning of Rachel's identity and listening to Roy Batty's speech at the end. I don't remember Ford questioning himself.

I can't compare the version I just saw with any other version, but I know Ford's character was debated as far as his replicant status in early versions, whereas this final version make it fairly clear he, too, is a replicant and that he and Rachel only have a short time together. I love this element of the story and I think it's beautiful. The end was great, with Ford finding the unicorn, and the other cop (Edward James Olmos) saying that it's a shame Rachel won't live. Just perfect, so tragic.

Great movie. In a way I'm annoyed I haven't enjoyed it more frequently over years. But then I'm happy this was the version I was able to see as my "first" experience of the story, because it was really effective.

Now, can someone get me the five-disc edition of The Breakfast Club? I'd watch that.


STEVE says:
Watching Ridley Scott's Final Cut of Blade Runner, I've finally come to realize what a wank George Lucas is.

Lucas' rape and pillage of the original Star Wars trilogy soured me on the idea of director's cuts and special editions. The original movies never met with his approval because special effects at the time couldn't bring his true vision to fruition. By 1997, though, technology had caught up with him and he released the Star Wars Special Editions. But by adding state-of-the-art effects to these classic films, he did nothing more than remove the credibility of the existing effects, making them look even dodgier by comparison than they did to begin with. As an artist, I can appreciate his wanting to see his vision realized. What I'm against is his refusal to let us enjoy the original movies.

I can't think of another special edition or director's cut where this is the case, especially since the DVD revolution. The Abyss, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, even Stargate, all come with the original as well as the special edition. Lucas, in a childish fit of "they're mine, not yours, I'll do what I want with them" has refused to release the original trilogy (even the new 2-disc editions of the original films only offer a pan and scan version, instead of the original widescreen presentation).

Ridley Scott, however, knows how to do a special edition. This new Blade Runner set has five versions of the movie: the original theatrical release, the international release (which doubled as the original vhs release in the States), the 1992 Director's Cut (which wasn't), the new Final Cut (which is), and just for fun, an early work-print. Good grief, Ridley.

Apart from the narration and the happy ending, the differences are mostly cosmetic: tighter editing, re-touched special effects, that sort of thing. When I heard that Scott got Joanna Cassidy back to re-film her character Zorah's death scene, I cringed, thinking immediately of Lucas and his retro-fitting. But it works here. I don't know why. Maybe it's just a psychological thing; I'm not offended by Scott's touch-ups because I know, should I want to, I can go back and watch the original version where it's not Cassidy but an obviously be-wigged stunt woman crashing through panes of glass and dying on the sidewalk. Not that I'm going to, but the option is there.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut gets a perfect score - 5/5

[Viewed again by Steve on Feb 13.]

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