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Wednesday, 8 August 2007

BLADE RUNNER: the Toddler's Lunchbox Edition

A while back I saw an ad from someone offering the old laserdisc release of BLADE RUNNER for sale, calling it BLADE RUNNER: ORIGINAL VERSION, and describing it thus:

"This is the original version of BLADE RUNNER before Ridley Scott f'd it up. This one has the voiceover and no cheesy dream sequence. Ltbx and beautiful."

(Apparently Ltbx means letterboxed. I had to Google it.)

The new 5-disc set feels like massive overkill but there is some stuff in there I'd be interested to see. I really don't need the suitcase, the lenticular animated film sequence, the origami unicorn, the 'original signed letter' or even the model spinner (although I suppose I could always stage a ground-to-air 'battle of the DVDs' with Robby from my FORBIDDEN PLANET tin). I don't care about the 'original theatrical version', which struck me as visibly compromised even when I first saw it, so I'm hardly interested in seeing that again plus a barely-different European cut of the same.

I am interested in seeing the workprint with Paul Sammon's informed commentary, not so much as yet another version but more as an extension of the documentary. Although I see from the Amazon description that only the toddler's lunchbox edition will contain it! As for the film itself... much as I felt that the '92 Director's Cut bore the signs of a repair job, I'm wary of this new, worked-over 'final cut'. When you go back to old work, you go back as a different person. Even if you return to execute a plan you made back then, your handwriting won't be the same.

What frustrates me is that there's no actual movie called BLADE RUNNER; instead there's this soup of movies in which nothing's quite precise or decided or entirely meant. I know that nothing's perfect and nothing's completely perfectible, but there's a moment in the creation of any piece of art where it best represents the mindset that drives it.

Whenever that moment might be, it surely isn't 25 years after the event. That's an older artist coming in and fixing the younger artist's work. Like doing something and then having your dad come in and insist on 'doing it properly' - I mean, come on, that's not how you make rock'n'roll. But at least I'm glad to see the voiceover and the copout ending fixed.

Conversely, I'm still p'd-off at Spielberg for going back and messing up CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. That wasn't fixing, it was fiddling. The new work slowed down the middle, and the added effects sequence at the end can never match what we knew to be inside the mothership. It was the visual equivalent of adding sound to Bill Murray's crucial unheard line in LOST IN TRANSLATION.

Maybe there's someone out there offering CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: ORIGINAL VERSION..?

5 comments:

Good Dog said...

If you get the Close Encounters of the Third Kind Collector's Edition DVD, the last shot of Dreyfuss' Roy Neary shows him walking up the ramp.

I think in the disc 2 doc, the beard says that when he wanted the money to shoot the additional scenes for the revised edition that was released in the cinema, the studio said they would give him the money if he shot scenes inside the mothership.

Now, with the "third cut", those final scenes have been taken out.

Hopefully, that's the end of the tinkering. Fingers crossed the dame can be said for Oliver Stone's Alexander.

And Blade Runner. Especially now that it has turned out that the 1992 "Director's Cut" was anything but because Sir Rid was too busy working on 1492 to give it his full attention.

The workprint would be interesting to see, but I'm not sure I want a buy a package that has five versions of the film.

Stephen Gallagher said...

So the third cut moves it back closer to the first? Thanks for that heads-up. For years I've avoided seeing the movie because I remember how powerful the first ending was, and how the added effects sequence turned the whole finale around into something underwhelming... but I've missed it like an old friend that I've long wanted to revisit.

Haven't seen Alexander yet, but I do love an epic. Troy rubbed me up the wrong way because the liberties it took with the material made for a weaker story than Homer's, but I was pleasantly surprised by Kingdom of Heaven, of which I'd been led to expect little.

Of course, there's now a director's cut of that one, too...

Good Dog said...

Stephen,

You've only seen the theatrical version of Kingdom of Heaven? Holy cow! You have to see the Director's Cut. The 4-disc DVD in the "Definitive Edition" tin is only a tenner. It's a phenomenal movie.

The problem with multiple cuts of films over the years is, rather than sit back and enjoying them, a part of the brain keeps asking: "Was that scene in the original or new?"

Stephen Gallagher said...

Sold!

Kas said...

Apocalypse Now Redux?

I know, let's 'redux' a timeless masterpiece and make it overlong and boring and then add a sex scene to liven things up a bit.