Blade Runner

I spent the evening watching Blade Runner: The Final Cut. It’s not much different to the earlier Director’s Cut – the scene changes are minimal – but the picture quality and sound has been re-rendered in startling clarity and the special effects cleaned up just enough to stop them looking dated.

This is no Lucas-style remake – the new CGI is mostly restricted to airbrushing out gaffes such as visible wires from the earlier print. Ridley Scott has resisted the urge to change too much, to his credit. The film is virtually perfect and needs no further tweaking.

What now dates the film is not the retro technology or special effects, but little things like seeing everybody smoking indoors. It’s particularly strange to see that the setting for this oft-copied classic is just eight years into our future.

My husband, whose DVD this is, enjoyed many hours of special features which I still haven’t looked at – much more than the usual glossy doc and couple of trailers. The Final Cut was originally put together in 2000, but delayed by legal issues for over six years.

Wikipedia lists the differences in this version (from the 1992 Director’s Cut) as follows (note: spoilers):

  1. The fireballs in the opening refinery shot are correctly synchronized with the associated light play on the smokestacks. Some of these had been off-sync in earlier versions.
  2. The close-up of an eye overlooking the Hades landscape is no longer the static image seen in previous versions. The eye’s pupil now reacts to the fireball and the eyelids move realistically. Also, the reflection of the cityscape below appears to move ever so slightly.
  3. The shot of Deckard waiting to eat at the White Dragon has been shortened, its editing reminiscent of the workprint version of the shot. This was done due to the removal of the voiceover.
  4. The cables lifting Gaff’s police spinner are no longer plainly visible. Cables were also removed from another shot of a spinner late in the film, just before Deckard enters Sebastian’s apartment building.
  5. In addition to English the voices on police radio during Gaff’s and Deckard’s flight to the police headquarters can be heard speaking German, Japanese and Swedish.
  6. A repeated visual effects shot showing the city outside Gaff’s Spinner has been adjusted very slightly: The once-obvious radar dish has been removed in the second use of the shot.
  7. As Deckard enters Bryant’s office, Bryant’s statement “I’ve got four skinjobs walking the streets” is no longer obviously a spliced-in re-recording.
  8. Bryant’s line “One of them got fried running through an electrical field” is changed to “Two of them…” to remove the numerical inconsistency later on.
  9. Bryant adds a new line about Leon being able to “lift 400 pound atomic loads all day and night.” This is from the workprint.
  10. A new cityscape horizon has been added to the shot of Gaff’s Spinner coming in for a landing at the Tyrell Corporation.
  11. Additional Spinner air traffic has been added in the distance outside the large window of Tyrell’s conference room.
  12. When Gaff and Deckard first appear at Leon’s apartment, the landlord now says “Kowalski,” another small bit originally from the workprint.
  13. A background behind Batty when he is first introduced speaking to Leon has been changed and the thumb on his shoulder has been removed. As the shot was taken from a later scene, this has now been corrected to appear as if Batty is actually in the phone booth as Leon finds him.
  14. The matte painting establishing the cityscape down the street from the Bradbury Building has been adjusted for improved realism, including fixing the perspective of the Pan-Am logo on one animated billboard.
  15. The original full-length version of the unicorn dream has been restored. This is a much different version than the one that appeared in the Director’s Cut, and has never been in any version seen by the public prior to this one. Deckard is shown to be awake; previously he was asleep or nearly asleep.
  16. The Unicorn’s horn has been digitally stabilized to minimize the unrealistic wobble of the horn appliance seen previously.
  17. The sequence at the fish booth now shows Deckard leaving.
  18. Deckard’s conversation with the snake merchant Abdul Ben Hassan has been altered so that the dialogue is no longer out of sync; Ford’s son, Ben, lip-synched the spoken dialog and his mouth was digitally placed over his father’s.
  19. A shot of the busy crowds in the streets was restored. Immediately after that, a shot of two strippers wearing hockey goalie masks was restored. Finally, there’s a shot of Deckard talking to another police officer just prior to Deckard entering the Snake Pit. These three shots had previously appeared in slightly different form in the workprint version.
  20. During Deckard’s pursuit of Zhora, Joanna Cassidy’s face has been digitally superimposed over that of the stunt double, Lee Pulford. This scene was re-filmed specifically for the Final Cut. Although great effort had been undertaken to replace the stunt double face with Cassidy’s, the tan-colored protective suit Pulford wore to protect against glass cuts is still visible.
  21. A scar on Deckard’s face after his “retirement” of Zhora has been removed. Originally, the scene in which Deckard meets Bryant after retiring Zhora was to take place after his encounter with Leon, explaining the scar. This was done prior to the removal of the “sixth replicant,” creating a continuity error. Due to the re-ordering, the scar was always present before Deckard had actually received it.
  22. When Batty confronts Tyrell, he says, “I want more life, father”; this is from the workprint version, an alternate take intended for—but never used—in television broadcasts of the film, as opposed to the original line, “I want more life, f***er.” The line also has a noticeably deeper tonal quality than the previous versions.
  23. After killing Tyrell, Batty says “I’m sorry Sebastian. Come. Come.” In the original he merely approached the frightened Sebastian. This is also from the workprint.
  24. As Deckard moves through Sebastian’s apartment, the once-obvious shadows of the camera crew have been digitally removed from the back wall.
  25. As Deckard climbes up the roof, Batty was digitally placed into the open window, because he was missing there between two scenes.
  26. As Deckard flees Batty, the matte painting with a TDK neon sign has been cleaned-up a bit to look more realistic, and the TDK sign itself has been added to a subsequent shot for better continuity.
  27. All the violent scenes in the International Cut that were deleted in the U.S. theatrical release and in the Director’s Cut—including Tyrell’s death, the confrontation between Deckard and Pris, and the nail through Batty’s bleeding hand—are restored to the Final Cut.
  28. After Batty releases the dove, it now flies up into a dark rainy sky instead of a clear blue sky. Also, the original building (the undressed side of a soundstage) has been replaced with a more appropriate retrofit apartment building. The background has also been enhanced with a cluster of circa 2019 buildings more in keeping with the film’s dark futuristic setting.

Scott chose not to reintegrate a number of scenes that had been cut from all versions of the film, such as an extended version of the love scene between Deckard and Rachael, and a scene in which Deckard visits Holden in the hospital (where Holden is, prophetically, shown reading an e-book). These scenes were included as part of a lengthy Deleted Scenes bonus feature in the 5-disc box set.

Talking of trivia, my personal “woah” moment was realising that Gaff was played by Battlestar Galactica‘s Edward James Olmos! Captain Adama is almost unrecogniseable in the role of the surly police detective who famously disturbs Harrison Ford’s noodles.

Post-script: Some of the scenes and themes in Blade Runner – specifically the “love scene” between Deckard and Rachael – were things I found unsettling while watching the film. Though clearly not forced, it’s “not healthy” either. This thread has some very interesting discussion on the subject, and throws in some equally fascinating comments such as that Roy Batty is the most “heroic” character in the film.

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