The original DVD and most commonly seen version of the iconic Sci-Fi classic.
“Replicants” searching for answers find their way to Earth.
Now one man has the job of ensuing they are “retired“.
Deckard (Harrison Ford) is called back to his old job as a Blade Runner by his ex-boss Bryant (M. Emmett Walsh). His job is sounds simple, find and destroy four rogue androids, but these are highly dangerous – combat trained – machines. They are also as human as their manufactures could make them.
The authorities are embarrassed by the Replicants, as they are called, return to Earth as they are only authorised for use Off World.
Deckard hasn’t encountered this series of robots, Nexus 6, so he is sent to Tyrell (Joe Turkell) who built them to find out more. There he meets and analyses Rachel (Sean Young), another Nexus 6 but a more advanced version with no concept that she is a robot and with a past. Implanted memories – dreams and so forth – convince Rachel she cannot be a replicant.
But Deckard decides to use old fashioned detective work to find the four missing replicants. Leon (Brion James), Zhora (Joanna Cassidy), Pris (Daryl Hannah) and their leader, Roy (Rutger Hauer).
A deadly chase ensues where Deckard may learn more about himself than he dared even dream.
Okay, one of my absolute top favourite movies of all time, the first movie I bought on DVD and one I have in some many, many versions and formats.
Obviously the description above generally services for all versions. As will, indeed, the following few paragraphs.
Blade Runner set the tone in the early 80’s for dark Sci Fi. An ambitious adaptation of a Phillip K Dick story “Do androids dream of electric sheep“, the movie boasts excellent special effects, a gripping story arc and wonderful cast.
The story is only loosely adapted from the source material, which I also I recommend to anyone interested in near future Sci-Fi, after all this is set in 2019 – not long now!
Rutger Hauer and Harrison Ford are at their peak in this movie, both extracting everything from their characters, wringing the sponge dry as it were. Probably the highlight of Hauer’s career.
All the cast are well chosen, a personal favourite of mine is J F Sebestian, played by William Sanderson. Of course I love those wonderful toys he builds as his ‘friends’. The idea of a genius that is so naive adds to the charm of the movie. Indeed, I think JF is the only character that comes across as requiring the sympathy of the viewer.
Not that the plight of the Replicants is without its irony, sadness or sorrow.
The setting, gloomy, futuristic and oppressive, is so massively enhanced by some of Vangelis’s best work that the story has to be that much better to prevent the whole thing feeling like a complex, over-long electro-punk music video. Lucky that is the case, aided by the marvellous acting.
A lot of the credit for this movie has to go to the astonishing vision of the director, Ridley Scott. The fact that the movie got finished (only due to a 27 hour stint on their last ‘day‘ of filming) after tearing through its budget and then some is down to his force of will. That story can be explored in some detail in the documentary “Dangerous Days“, which I reviewed earlier in the year.
What you take from the movie is a personal ‘journey’, for several it proves the end of the line and there is a touch of noire to the whole thing. Is there such a thing as a happy ending.
Depends which version you’re watching.
The Final Cut
This version of the movie is available in the 5 disk Complete Collector’s Edition. It is also available separately on DVD or iTunes or many, many other media. I myself have this version on iTunes, and of course on magnificent BlueRay.
So we’ve already had the Director’s Cut so why this version? Well, the previous version wasn’t directly [sic] produced by Ridley Scott, rather from notes he gave his gifted editor.
What we have here is what that should have been had the iconic director had the time.
A lot of this version will be very familiar but, if you have it on DVD, you’ll notice the dramatic improvement in the quality. If you have it on BlueRay you most certainly won’t be disappointed. To say the print has been cleaned up is to give no justice to the team behind this.
The audio is also improved – and in the more modern 5.1 surround format. All previous versions were stereo 2.0. Apparently they had this 5.1 audio all the time!
Now onto the really interesting bits. On the Workprint disk in the Complete Collector’s Edition there is the insightful “All our Variant Futures” documentary. This lays out in some detail the differences between The Final Cut and the previous versions.
To pick out a few of differences that I think are particularly important, along with the clean ups mentioned before, we have a few refilmed sequences.
Zhora’s Death Scene
Refilming of Zhora’s death scene is the most complex sequence that’s been changed. Originally a male stuntman performs the “glass run” scene through the arcade, shattering multiple sheets as Zhora tries to escape Deckard. The visual effect is the least convincing and most unrewarding of the movie as the actor is obviously not Joanna Cassidy.
The actress herself was the first to promote the idea of refilming the scene, during an interview for the Dangerous Days documentary.
What they eventually decided upon was a complex partial refilming and reintegration into the original sequence. The set was complex and setting it up all over again for this purpose, probably, inhibitively expensive. So the actress was asked to motion track the sequence, she moved her head and shoulders to the movements of the stunt double through the original sequence. Then the effects maestros go to work and integrate that set of new imagery onto the original. Indeed in the All our Variant Futures documentary there is a disturbing sequence where the body completes the whole scene with no head at all!
Deckard Lip Sync
During his investigations, Deckard gets tough with a snake saleman. In all the previous versions the visuals of the scene have no lip sync to the audio at all, giving a weird – surreal effect, like we are seeing some sort visualisation of the audio or perhaps another odd voiceover moment.
What Ridley Scott has done for The Final Cut is use the same techniques as for Zhora’s Death Scene to re-sync the lips. Harrison Ford was unable to participate so they got Ben Ford, his son, to perform the necessary visuals. Very effective it is too.
Finally, we have the removal of the blazing blue sky and a new background for the dove’s ascent at the end of the Tears in Rain scene. This is a subtle change but beautifully done. Great care went into choosing which elements to keep and what to change.
I love all the previous versions but this has to be the definitive version, the one that the acting and vision deserved. Watch on BlueRay if you can, just let the movie take you to a disturbing (near) future, let Vangelis paint a musical picture in your mind. Let Ridley Scott drive you through an iconic detective story.
Things to look out for: Opening sequence, dystopian vision, “No choice, huh?“,
Released: 1982 (2007)
Cast: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, William Sanderson, Joe Turkell, Joanna Cassidy, Brion James, Daryl Hannah, M. Emmett Walsh, Edward James Olmos
Rating: The Final Cut, says it all, very highly recommended
Part of the “Five-Disc Complete Collector’s Edition”