Last night I went to the late night showing of Blade Runner Final Cut. It was showing at one of the best cinemas in my city, a small independent cinema that shows an esoteric range of films from indie, mainstream, and cinema classics. They also sell alcohol and home made cakes (last night I had chocolate tart – yummy).
I first watched Blade Runner late at night on TV, not only was it the old version with the cheesy voice over and the last scene was of them driving in the sun (because its all OK, kids!). It also had a couple of key scenes edited out for TV, in particular all of the eyeball scenes, I guess because of the violence. In this early version it was clear Dekkard was the good guy, and the replicants were the bad guys. Later I watched the far superior Directors Cut (not to be confused by the Final Cut :)) on dvd, but last night was the first time I watched Ridley’s Scotts remastered version.
So not only was I watching the film last night with these ghost versions showing in my head. I was also rewatching the film from a completely different perspective. Blade Runner came out the year I was born, and I think the first time I watched it I must have been 12 or 13. It was my introduction to noir films. I hadn’t yet watched Metropolis, Chinatown or The Maltese Falcon. I had never read any Philip K Dick, Isaac Asimov or John Wydenham. I didn’t yet know why Blade Runner was such a good movie because I hadn’t read or watched the canon of movies that inform it. I just knew that it was brilliant.
Watching the film last night was like returning to a place you once loved, everything was the same and everything had changed. From the opening sequence with the shot over LA and the pouff of the flames erupting from the power station to the last scene with the origami unicorn. Watching it now having seen and read a lot of exceptional sci fi (and some extremely dire sci fi) added to my appreciation of the film.
At the moment I’m obsessed by editing, how making a seemingly minuscule change can influence the entire tone, plot, feel of a book. So it was interesting to look at how this works visually. The main change (from what I can remember) is the removal of the cheesy voice over. This serves to make Dekkard’s motivations much more opaque and his character more amoral. Sort of like changing a story from first person to third limited perspective, the voice over helps you identify with the character, by removing it allows you to make up your own mind. I think Ridley Scott also rejigged the chase scene at the end with Roy and Dekkard to up the tension. Of course now I want to go back and look at the two earlier versions and see if I can spot the cracks!
I always feel sympathy for the replicants: the desperate need to meet your maker and seek recompense for the flaws of your creation is fertile ground (see Frankenstein et al). The brutality with which Dekkard retires the replicants is too close to the violence they inflict on those that come across their path.
The little details intrigued me, the advertisements for the off world colonies, the fact that real animals were too expensive and replicants were cheaper, the fake memories, and asian advertisements. And there were eyes everywhere, the golden hue of the replicants eyes, the eye man, Priss spray painting over her eyes, Roy boring out Tyrell’s eyes. A good use of a motif for a film obsessed with our perceptions of reality.
The boy said that he found the noir elements overpowering. Like a rich meal the shadowy lighting, the incessant rain, the beautiful decrepid settings were a little much for his pallet. I loved it, of course. The lighting, the sets, the costumes. even the characters – everything was used, dirty, jaded.
Afterwards there was the eternal debate about whether or not Dekkard is a replicant (for the record I think its a yes the photos, the unicorn dreams, and Grak leaving the unicorn at the end (Oh Adama how I love you!) all seem to point to this. Although the film is ambiguous enough to not answer the question conclusively).
I’m so glad that I got the chance to see the film in the cinema