On DVD/Blu-ray – Blade Runner (1982) 30th Anniversary Edition
by NIR SHALEV
Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is now 30 years old and there’s little left to say about it. When it came out, it met with decent critical praise and very little profit. It made its money back at the international box-office but that took a long time. Fast-forward and look at where it is today.
Blade Runner tells the story of Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), a man whose occupation involved killing (or retiring, as his superiors refer to it) rogue androids that look and act exactly us. “More human than human” is Tyrell Corporation’s motto for the Nexus 6 replicant models. The only thing that sets replicants apart from us is that they lack empathy. Early in the film, Deckard meets with Tyrell’s own daughter, Rachel (Sean Young) and is tasked with running a test on her. After asking her more than 100 cross-referenced questions he reports to Tyrell, in private, that she’s in fact a replicant and is astounded to find out that she doesn’t know it. “How can it not know what it is?” asks Deckard. That’s what sets this film apart from all other science fiction tales that deal with robots and individuality.
Deckard isn’t the only lead character in the film. Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) is the other and the leader of the small replicant group that had mutinied against and murdered their superiors on another planet before returning to Earth. Due to the fact replicants may become sentient at one point in the future Tyrell built every model with a fail-safe device: a four year life span. Batty wants longer life and his crew of three will help him to the end.
The best line in the film comes from Rachel when she asks Deckard whether he’d ever retired a human by mistake. He flat out replies, “No”. How can one truly know these things? And why do the Nexus 6 models look and act just like us? Why not make them look mechanical and metal-based so that we could identify them more clearly in case of other future mutinies? Such questions are irrelevant because even our present time we’re developing the most complex, realistic looking robots, ones that can respond to us properly. It’s all in the name of science and progress. based on the classic Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Blade Runner shows us a future that looks astonishingly complex, superfluous, and beautiful all at once.
The Los Angeles that is depicted in the film showcases buildings that are hundreds of stories tall and the surrounding architecture resembles art deco-style interior design and furniture. There are also flying cars, deranged-looking street cleaners, and the four Tyrell Corporation Towers are pyramid shaped, a la George Orwell’s 1984. The visual schemes in the film resemble neo-noir environments: all of the shadows, deranged architecture, and German Expressionistic shot compositions that are found within film noirs, but many other colors are added to the mix. Loud colors, expressive colors, neon colors. And along with the neo-noir look many of the film’s individual shots are gorgeous, painterly, and seem to belong in the renaissance-era. The painting style of Chiaroscuro stands out quite a lot.
The film is also timeless, because it takes place in a future that will never exist. The dialogue is simple and the characters speak with clarity. Essentially, Blade Runner is a talking heads film that contains grand philosophical ideologies regarding the right to take lives and what it means to replace humans with pod people. It’s also a slow-paced albeit gorgeous looking film that depicts a future in which I wish I could exist.
Blade Runner originally suffered from terrible studio involvement that forced Scott to re-edit the film, replace the ending with a much happier one (one that, ironically doesn’t make any sense), and to provide the audience with a narration spoken by Deckard. It was entirely superfluous and the film felt more like a traditional 1950s film noir than a creature all of its own. Sometime during the late 1990s a Director’s Cut was released by Scott and it was a vast improvement. It was much closer to the original product because he’d done away with the superfluous narration and had also restored the original ending (the one depicting the image of a unicorn made of origami). Audiences were then able to somewhat comprehend what the greater picture was all about.
In 2007, Warner Brothers, with great assistance by Ridley Scott had released Blade Runner: The Final Cut and it was definitely the final and original version that Scott had intended for audiences to see from the start. It came on DVD and Blu-ray, and the version that most opted for (myself included) was the Special Collector’s Briefcase Edition that came with several knickknacks and at least 10 hours worth of extras. This 30th anniversary edition is more or less a double dip except that you get the Final Cut version on Blu-ray, DVD, and Ultraviolet Disc, a different type of toy police car, and a 72-page book depicting photos and details about the film and its history.
Lawrence of Arabia is my favorite film of all time, while the rest of the list was always interchangeable. However, ever since Blade Runner came out on Blu-ray it became my second-favorite film of all time. Now there are two titles in that list that can never be moved. Blade Runner is that good of a film.
It’s not too slow as to bore audiences, it’s one of the most beautifully shot films of all time, and it’s terrifically emotional. What would do if you found out that you had only four years to live? And knowing that you were created three and a half years before, what would you do then? Imagine how Roy Batty felt when he was on another planet employed as a slave performing hard labor.
NEW RELEASES FOR NOVEMBER 27, 2012
Lawless (Helen’s review)
Men in Black 3
Step Up Revolution