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Blade Runner’s Final Cut Settles on a Masterpiece

October 8, 2007

Twenty-Five Years to PerfectionBlade Runner after 25 years, still gives me chills. The feelings that coursed through a ten year-old boy’s heart, came up again without any effort or false sense of nostalgia.

The Final Cut represents one of Sir Ridley Scott’s greatest achievements in his career for one reason, restraint. The final vision revealed to audiences in Venice, New York and now Los Angeles, is truly the film it was always meant to be. Scott’s work as Editor and Director were largely completed with the 1992 Director’s Cut. Some subtle changes and additions were made here and there, but ultimately, Scott’s work on the film is almost like that of gem polisher, deftly rubbing the final imperfections from the face of the work, to reveal the perfected stone beneath.

Certainly one will draw comparisons to George Lucas‘s significant work on the original Star Wars trilogy. Lucas’s work which when revealed in theatres and video, called attention to itself, good and bad. Here, there is none of that. The final cut represents more of a film restoration with more in common with the re-release of Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, than Lucas’s trilogy.

(Mild spoilers follow. . .) It was revealed through Joanna Cassidy‘s website some time ago, that she had put back on the mylar jacket and boots to re-shoot key scenes in the film for the final cut. This left some bloggers even joking that they were concerned that Zhora might now shoot first. But Greedo she is not. Lord almighty, no. The work changes only what needed changing in the first place. Key shots are very clearly now Cassidy, and not the stunt performer who took the plate glass window for her. The work here is in fact so good, there will likely be arguements as to just what was done, or how it was done in the end.

All of the little bits which Blade Runner fans have turned a blind eye to and forgiven over the years are gone. No more tow cables on Spinners, no more dove flight up into a blue sky, no more continuity errors in the number of replicants.

There is some work that goes beyond these sorts of fixes, and in fact as someone who has been studying this film for years, I was left with questions of alternate takes being used in just one or two key scenes. But again, no changes are out of place, nor overt.

The screening at West Los Angeles’s The Landmark was projected via Sony’s Cine Alta 4k resolution digital projection system. I am an admitted filmic purist in many ways, and while I most certainly do not fear the use of digital technology in filmmaking, I do love the medium’s artistic qualities. For me, this was the greatest achievement that I have seen thus far in digital projection. Previous screenings I have been to, most notably Episode II’s Attack of the Clones, I was left with feelings of a cool and antiseptic nature. Here, the 4k resolution not only popped like crazy, but handled the film noise beautifully. It was truly the best of both worlds.

The opening “Hades” sequence and the revealing of the Tyrell Pyramid is even more striking, but maintains all of its original purity. Most, if not all of the Spinners are the original models, and if any sort of CG model replacement has been done it would be impossible to say for sure with the naked eye.

Blade Runner in 2007 is now a testament to Ridley Scott’s achievements during two eras in his career. It is a stunning achievement of the visionary filmmaker he was in 1982, and the polished and beautifully restrained craftsmanship of the filmmaker he is today. And if the trailer is any indication, we may have yet another piece of seminal filmmaking in Ridley Scott’s soon-to-be-released American Gangster.

Obviously, the opportunities to catch this now-finished masterpiece are limited to audiences in Los Angeles and New York, but if you have any chance of catching it before it leaves the theatre, do not hesitate in making plans. For the rest of the world, you can look forward to multiple editions of Blade Runner: The Final Cut coming this December 18th to DVD.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. October 9, 2007 8:29 am

    Thanks for the heads up. I was afraid they may do too much to it.

  2. October 9, 2007 6:04 pm

    I was a manager-trainee for a local movie theater when it played in town as a sneak preview 25 years ago- I was blown away then and it still is one of my favorite films. ( i stole the movie poster that night and it hangs in my living room)

    Can’t wait for the new version– thanks for the heads up!!

  3. December 10, 2007 10:39 am

    Christ. I don’t get it. What’s so great about Blade Runner?

  4. December 18, 2007 12:03 am

    I know what you mean Elver. . .

    I’ve never really gotten the big whoop about “The Third Man”.

    *shrugs*

  5. August 6, 2009 4:49 pm

    excellent post

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