Thursday, September 17, 2009

DVD Spotlight: Blade Runner (4-Disc Collector's Edition).

Blade Runner (4-Disc Collector's Edition) (1982)
DVD Release Year: 2007.
Released by: Warner Home Video.
Region: Region 1.
Starring: Harrison Ford; Rutger Hauer; Sean Young; Edward James Olmos; M. Emmet Walsh; Daryl Hannah; William Sanderson; Brion James; Joe Turkel; Joanna Cassidy; James Hong.
Directed by: Ridley Scott.
Colour/117 Minutes/R (Final Cut); Colour/116 Minutes/R (1982 Theatrical Cut); Colour/117 Minutes/R (1982 International Cut); Colour/116 Minutes/R (1992 Director's Cut)

So I had $20 worth of credit at my local music/movie store saved up and I had nothing to use it on. I was just saving it up for whenever the next big box set of something came up that I wanted. I suspected that I would end up using my credit on either the upcoming Kill Bill box set or the Grindhouse box set, which should show up sometime in the next year or so. I had totally forgotten about the new Blade Runner release. It had slipped my mind. But there it was, on the shelf that week. I mentally slapped myself. Then I did it again, a bit harder. It was the last copy left in the store. It wasn't the 5-Disc uber-set, with all the extra collectable crap (why the fuck would I want a reproduction of the origami unicorn anyway?), but just the standard 4-Disc box set. At $37 after taxes, minus my $20 in credit, it was a sweet deal. Hell, even without the credit it would be a sweet deal. This set features 3 archival versions of the film on one disc. That alone is worth the price.

The big feature, however, is the new 2007 "Final Cut" of the film, that Ridley Scott had total control over. Here he has the entire film cut to his liking and has had the audio and video remastered. It's amazing and the changes and enhancements are quite subtle, yet improve everything as a whole to a great degree. That's an impressive thing to say when you consider the fact that all of the versions of the film, except for the workprint and US broadcast versions, are pretty much the same in running time. Thankfully it's not some George Lucas CGI hackjob recreation of the original Star Wars. It's like watching a slightly different, but better film. There is no doubt in my mind that this is what Blade Runner was supposed to be all along. The best parts? Scott has cut out all of the annoying Harrsion Ford voice-over narration, which was total shit; stuck in the original version, after-the-fact, to explain the plot to thick movie-goers who have no imagination. Scott has also put back in the full version of Deckard's unicorn dream... and the entire movie now tends to lean more strongly towards the idea that, yes, Deckard was in fact a replicant. Scott pretty much says so on the commentary track as well. So let it die already.

There is a documentary disc (disc 2) that explores everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) a person would want to know about the film. It covers the story, the history of the production and the film's various versions, the actors, the deleted scenes (even showing a few of them), the special effects, and all the conflicts durring the production. It's intercut with interviews by Scott, Ford (who hasn't spoken a lot about the film until now because he was unhappy with the previous versions that were floating around out there), and several other people from the cast and crew. You can watch each section seperately, or as one mega-documentary (which is quite damn long at three and a half hours... longer than the film!). Then there is disc 4, the "Enchancement Archive" that showcases effects and visuals and sounds of the film through several featurettes and galleries. Quite interesting and well worth taking the time to sit through.

I have to say that Blade Runner is a movie that I take something new away from everytime I watch it. It never fails to capture my imagination. It's one of those films that you watch and are just awe-struck by how amazing it is; how deep it is. You sit there afterwards and think to yourself that you've just seen something as amazing as Roy Batty had seen in his short android life.

DVD Information

Disc One: The Final Cut
Video: 2.40:1.
Audio: Dolby TrueHD 5.1; Dolby Digital Plus English 5.1, French 5.1.
Subtitles: English; Spanish; French; Chinese; Japanese; Korean; Portuguese.
--Commentary by Ridley Scott.
--Commentary by Executive Producer/ Co-Screenwriter Hampton Fancher and Co-Screenwriter David Peoples; Producer Michael Deely and production executive Katherine Haber.
--Commentaries by visual futurist Syd Mead; production designer Lawrence G. Paull, art director David L. Snyder and special photographic effects supervisors Douglas Trumbull, Richard Yuricich and David Dryer.

Disc Two: Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner
Video: 1.85:1 enhanced for 16x9 displays.
Audio: English DD 2.0.
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish.
Time: 214 Minutes.
--Feature-length documentary: Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner.

Disc Three: Three Complete Archival Versions
Video: 2.40:1.
Audio: Dolby Digital Plus English 5.1, English 2.0, French 2.0 (Parisian), French 2.0 (dubbed in Quebec).
Subtitles: English; Spanish; French; Chinese; Japanese; Korean; Portuguese.
--1982 US Theatrical Cut.
--1982 International Theatrical Cut.
--1992 Director's Cut.

Disc Four: Enhancement Archive
Audio and Video: Standard definition DVD in English with no subtitles.
Time: See below.
--Featurette: The Electric Dreamer: Remembering Philip K. Dick (14:23).
--Featurette: Sacrificial Sheep: The Novel vs. The Film (15:10).
--Philip K. Dick: The Blade Runner Interviews (Audio Only) (23:00).
--Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep Cover Gallery (Images Only).
--The Art of Blade Runner (Images Only).
--Featurette: Signs of the Times: Graphic Design (13:40).
--Featurette: Fashion Forward: Wardrobe & Styling (20:40).
--Screen Tests: Rachel & Pris (8:54).
--Featurette: The Light That Burns: Remembering Jordan Cronenweth (19:58).
--Unit Photography Gallery (Images Only).
-- 24 Deleted & Alternate Scenes (47:37).
--1982 Promotional Featurettes: On the Set (14:18), Convention Reel (13:11), Behind the Scenes Outtakes (8:41).
--Trailers & TV Spots.
--Featurette: Promoting Dystopia: Rendering the Poster Art (9:27).
--Marketing & Merchandise Gallery (Images Only).
--Featurette: Deck-A-Rep: The True Nature of Rick Deckard (9:28).
--Featurette: Nexus Generation: Fans & Filmmakers (21:47).


Anonymous said...

The unicorn dream is as much an after-the-fact addition as the narration. The entire script was written under the assumption that Deckard was human, Ford played the part as a human, and Scott didn't even get the idea to make Deckard a replicant until he misunderstood a remark by one of the screenwriters after the script had been finished. Scott may say that Deckard is a Replicant, but Lucas says that Greedo shot first, and look at how seriously people take that.

Lee Russell said...

There were many drafts of that script, some quite different from each other. From what I gather, they kept it up in the air when originally filming, and indeed Ford and Scott did not agree, but whose version/adaptation of the story is this? The Theatrical cut leaves it ambiguous and dumbed down for the general movie-goer. In the Director's and Final cuts the answer is definitely yes. I'd take Scott's word over Lucas' any day that this was his original intent. And, even if they did decide to change their minds with the final cut, after all of these years, unlike the horrible changes to the original Star Wars films, this change makes the film much more interesting. I'm afraid if one wants Deckard as a human, one must only watch the original theatrical cut or stick to reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep over and over, which is a prefectly fine thing to do if one so chooses. I persnally think the debate is so over with now, that it doesn't matter. Scott has given us several version of the film, and we can all decide which one is the "real" version and be happy with it.

Thanks for the comment.