Blade Runner: Final Cut

The movie that you love, now with extra unicorn. Still the same number of attack ships on fire.

Watching Blade Runner is like coming home, except I don’t live there and that analogy makes absolutely no sense. What it is is one of my favourite movies, and tonight I got to see it in its final incarnation, and digitally projected at that. This cut is slightly tweaked, but it’s also something that’s entirely, you know … visible. It makes one realise that all of the dustiness is intentional, an unexplained holdover from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. While there is something a little bit off in the exposition – Deckard seriously should not have to have the concept of incept dates and replicant life expectancy explained to him, because it’s his freaking job – the rest of the movie is something of a marvel.

It’s like Ridley Scott took something that was marvellous, and polished it into the finest diamond the world has ever known. I don’t know precisely why I love Blade Runner, because it’s not without its flaws, but I find that with love, I can look beyond any imperfections to see the core, or essence, of the cinematic experience. Hence my love of the Super Mario Bros. movie, which I love unequivocally but have next to nothing good to say about.

Spoilers beyond this point … I spoil the grandest movie ever made!

Everyone knows what Blade Runner is about and, if you don’t, then I really can’t help you. Basically it’s the foundation for much of the science fiction, and a hell of a lot of the science fiction anime and manga, that has been released since 1982. Most of them had to use the apparently inferior (and as yet unwatched by me) original cut, tampered with to the point of condescension by the studios. I went to see this with a friend who had not seen Blade Runner since 2003, when we did it for school, and one who had never seen the film in any incarnation. Key scenes stick in my mind, and seeing tiny changes to them was a treat … but simply watching this movie is a treat.

Being able to see all of these characters, to follow the instinctual and passionate replicants, is a true delight. Harrison Ford is unfortunately stiff in places, but somehow the material transcends that. In fact, there’s a lot of things about Blade Runner that are simply weird. Most all of the scenes, for instance. Strangely enough, it works. Basically the only aspect of the project that completely fails to gel for me is the early romance of Deckard and Rachael, largely because I don’t think that throwing a woman into a wall and then telling her to ask you to kiss her is a romantic gesture. I’d say “maybe I’m old fashioned”, but that’s actually indicative of my progressive nature. Otherwise, the old world futuristic aesthetic is most pleasing; everyone smokes, and the future is ridiculously green screened and analogue. It’s great.

What everyone watches out for in a Blade Runner viewing is the ending. In my packed cinema, one could tell that everyone was hanging on what would come at the moment after Deckard opens the door to his apartment. Without having seen the “original” ending, I still would not hesitate to suggest that this is the best on offer and the biggest in the “Deckard is a Replicant” camp. Seriously, the play of Deckard picking up the unicorn, recalling Gaff’s quote, and nodding … it’s as if Deckard himself can accept that maybe he’s a replicant. I’m not sure if, without having this idea implanted in your head, you can see Deckard as a replicant. My friend Raymond said “That was a unicorn? I thought it was a crane.” I could only reply: “Maybe if Deckard makes a thousand of them, Rachael won’t die.” It is too bad that she won’t live, but then again who does? I firmly believe also that that particular line would improve the endings of countless movies.

In retrospect Blade Runner probably isn’t my favourite movie or the best movie ever. Still, I hold a lot of love, and I have a mighty heart indeed.

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