Friday, October 19, 2007

But Then Again Who Does

The Final Cut of Ridley Scott’s BLADE RUNNER is now playing in very limited release. I’ve seen the film many times in its different forms and it just may be the only film that I’ve seen at both the Chinese and the Cinerama Dome (one for the Director’s cut, one for the Workprint Cut). But this time it wasn’t actually playing near me so I had to drive all the way across town in rush hour traffic to the recently opened Landmark. A theater with an aesthetic that could only be described as the nicest bus station in the universe. With assigned seating, even though I’d never been inside, so I felt like I was rolling the dice and then there was about half of the audience who, since they had their assigned seats, chose to all enter the theater for the 7:50 show at exactly 7:50. I had to go through all this to see BLADE RUNNER yet again, even if it was a new version, what is being trumpeted as The Final Cut.

Then that Ladd Company logo came on, followed by the first booms of the Vangelis score and I was sucked right back in again. That movie is able to do that to me. The enigma of the power of BLADE RUNNER is something which, for me, dates back to when I was first watching it on cable, probably at an age before I could appreciate it. I would periodically watch it during my youth, trying to make sense of it and the puzzle it created. I’ve seen it many times now, but the film still carries its enigmas with it. The enigma of that photo that Joanna Cassidy is located in—is that a cheat or not? The enigma of how the world came to be in this state by 2019, the enigma of whether or not Deckard is a Replicant, the enigma of that damn Unicorn. The enigma of that narration which may be gone now but is still remembered. The enigma of the red lipstick Sean Young wears in her first scene. The enigma of Los Angeles. The enigma of all girls named Rachel.

There’s very little I could say about BLADE RUNNER that hasn’t already been said. The nature of the film’s continuing history over the years has long made it seem like a work in progress, so it’s refreshing to see most, if not all, of the tiny problems which always seemed to be present finally taken care of. I’m not entirely certain just how much has been tampered with, but the movie felt complete to me more than ever before. Mistakes which have always been noticeable have been fixed. Rutger Hauer’s line “I want more life, fucker,” has now been changed to its shot-for-network-television alternate “I want more life, father,” and the change somehow jumps off the screen with an immediacy that is startling. Even the reaction that Joe Turkel’s Eldon Tyrell now has to the line gives the sequence, and therefore the entire movie, more dimension. And I may have been decidedly mixed about the theater but the presentation, in 4K digital, was flawless.

I’m glad I went to see it at night. Driving home through the Los Angeles night after seeing BLADE RUNNER with that End Credits music by Vangelis still kicking around in my head just makes the movie stay in my head longer. Each of the film’s characters are isolated in their own ways—Deckard in his apartment, Sebastian in his building, Tyrell in his penthouse, even Rachel is isolated in her way as being an ‘experiment’, as Tyrell puts it, something which I’m sure people who live in this town can understand. A film that famously flopped when first released, BLADE RUNNER’s life has continued not just because of special effects or alternate cuts, but because there’s something in there which lingers after it ends that people respond to. Maybe it’s a Los Angeles thing, maybe it’s a human thing. There are a number of Ridley Scott films that I don’t ever need to see again, but what lies within this film, an achievement which to me is his finest, makes me continually willing to see it again. Whichever version it is.

Have a better one.


Nostalgia Kinky said...

Getting the upcoming box set of this IS my Christmas this year. There isn't any other release I am more excited about. I relate to everything you wrote on it, and admire that you were able to put some of its magic into words...
I just really can't wait to see this new version, thanks for posting an early and personal report on it.
This is one of the great films to me and always will be.

Mr. Peel aka Peter Avellino said...

Yeah, I can't wait to get that box set. It's great that this final version was put together, but also great that we'll have the other cuts of the film--especially the workprint, which is really interesting--to compare it to. It's a beautiful piece of work.