Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blade Runner Fans In Heaven

Blade Runner screen shot
It's finally here. After six years in limbo the definitive version of Blade Runner, one of the most formative films of all time, is to be released in five days, in a mind-boggling array of formats. This was the first adaptation of the unparalleled Philip K. Dick to make it to the screen, starting a trickle, then a stampede that has seen ten stories in all adapted so far. (And there's more on the way... news soon!)

Of course I need tell no-one about Blade Runner, or reiterate the excessive complaints about how it is not that faithful to the source novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?. In fact I wrote that last sentence only to see the brilliant title in full again.

I saw Blade Runner in the theatre on release and have watched it about thirty times since on the big screen. I have the original poster and the crappy orchestral soundtrack. Before that I was a huge Dick fan, and have for years owned all but a couple of his books (the most expensive couple). I say this not to brag but rather to indicate just how much I love this film and how much the entire oeuvre means to me.

It is impossible for those who were not around actively engaged in culture before 1982 to know what Blade Runner did to the media landscape. Before this film the idea of a noir future of decrepit people, genetic modifications and dead tech was confined to the printed page. Though it did poorly in the cinemas, the film rapidly attained cult status, and with the rise of home viewing on VHS and later DVD broke through into the mainstream. Though it stayed unreleased for many years, the Vangelis soundtrack was considered a landmark. Dialogue samples were used on more records than one can easily count. The imagery was appropriated wholesale for any number of crap B-movies. And advertisements, Ridley Scott's background in commercials coming full circle.

The look of Blade Runner is hardly startling now, but we had seen nothing like it in 1982.

Anyway, back to the DVD release, which comes in regular DVD, Blu-Ray and HD and a number of packages from a single disk up to a five-disk set with various paraphernalia packaged in a briefcase! Ignoring the toys, the most important thing here is the new edit of the film, called the "Final Cut", which contains at least one entirely new scene (no, it doesn't after all), fixes to continuity, and an overall edit that seems to combine the 1992 "Director's Cut" (over which Ridley Scott ironically had little control) with the more violent "International Cut". I have always preferred the less violent edit, but with five versions total I suppose I can finally compare them on a level playing field.

The five film versions fit on three disks, giving two entire disks of extras. I know what a lot of film fans will be doing this Christmas!

To add to the complexity of the release line-up, those in North America need to get the "Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition", toys and all, to get the five disks in regular DVD. Discounted to $55 that's not a bad deal. In Europe one can get the "5-Disc Ultimate Collectors' Edition Tin" which forsakes the briefcase and comes in at a very reasonable 18 pounds sterling. I am truly surprised we are not being gouged more for this long-awaited release, especially before Christmas.

You can support my work here by purchasing through these Amazon links. Even if you prefer a different version of the film, or something else entirely, start with these links and a portion of Amazon's cut goes to me instead. I'll be back with more PK Dick news soon!

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Anonymous said...

The correct title is of course Blade Runner, not Bladerunner

robin said...

Teach me to post at three in the morning. Though, actually, if I didn't post then I wouldn't write much at all! I have also caught myself misusing "their" and "there", plus other dead obvious mistakes we all think we would never do.

Blogs need editors.

robin said...

I have corrected my article where I claimed there was an extra scene. I was misled as others were, by the new short clip of two dancers at Taffey Lewis'. But it's not a full scene at all.

More details on the DVD set shortly!

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