Sunday, December 30, 2007

Blade Runner the final cut. As a late Christmas gift to myself I bought the 4 DVD set of the final cut and 25 year commemoration of the original release of the film. The 4 DVD set includes of course the 'Final Cut' of the film by Ridley Scott and an additional DVD with the 3 other theatrical releases of the film; the original U.S. version, the European version, and the directors cut released in 1992. The original U.S. version released in 1982 was not a big success. My biggest dissapointment when first seeing the film was that it bore absolutely no resemblance to the Dick novel. As beautiful as the film looked it was little more then a chase movie with a surreal happy ending tacked on at the end. To see the original U.S. theatrical release juxtaposed against the Directors Cut is to watch two totally different films. One is a 1940's B movie detective thriller set in the future for no particular reason where as the film as Ridley Scott conceived it is a classic film noir with a science fiction treatment. It contains all the themes of classic noir; a nihilistic world view, a detached anti hero, and a "case" that will be his last. It is not really the story Philip K. Dick told in 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep' but it is a good film. As the first adaptation of a Philip K. Dick story (at least one he got credit for) done by a major director and a big studio it didn't hurt his reputation. He died before it's release and his family had to watch the film fail initially. Philip K. Dick liked the way the movie looked but felt that Ridley Scott totally missed the point of his novel. On the second DVD is a really good documentary on the production of the film. The original script called 'Dangerous Days' was written by Hampton Fancher who was later replaced by David Peoples. Fancher was not a big fan of the book but managed a screen treatment that did get the project started. He also seemed dedicated to adapting Philip K. Dicks book to film which I don't believe ever was an issue with Ridley Scott. Ironically one of the orginal financiers was a Philip K. Dick fan who wanted to see a film treatment of one of his books . Ridley Scott was not interested in the script, couldn't finish the book and may have only worked on the film as a project to keep him busy during a troubled time in his personal life. By the time the script was ready for production an actors strike was called and the film was delayed for a year. This gave the art design team a lot of time to work on every little detail of set design and props which gave the film a look like no other film ever made and probably saved the flawed film from obscurity. As bad as the original release was it looked amazing and all of it done at a time way before computer generated special effects existed. Upon viewing the finished product Ridley Scott felt he had made a really good looking film but had no idea what it all meant and the producers had a big expensive film that made no sense to them and they needed to recover some of their money. In post production Ridley Scott lost control of his film and it became the property of the financial backers who wanted it to be released so they could recoup their losses so it was rushed in to release without further imput from Scott. This is probably why the film tanked on release because it was finished by men who were incapable of appreciating what the film was and only saw what it cost. The flawed film survived and eventually was released as Ridley Scott envisioned it and gave the film a story that matched it's elegant look. Though it is not an accurate adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel it shares many of the same qualities of the source work; enigmatic, ahead of its time, visionary and totally original. I'm glad that I bought the set. It was not expensive considering all that was included and the special features are really interesting. Roger Ebert gave the original film a thumbs down but I give the Final Cut DVD set an enthusiastic thumbs up.


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