Friday, March 07, 2008

blade runner - the final cut

i finally watched this tonight at the crest theater, a local arthouse. i was prepared to hate it, as i hated the previous cut of the movie. instead, i loved it. after years of watching runner on tv, on video-tape and on disc, seeing the film in 35mm with surround sound was pure, visceral pleasure. since i knew the story so well the lack of narration didn't bother me. and because i intimately knew the action in the foreground i concentrated on the lushness of the score which seems improved upon and the sumptuous visuals. every inch of each frame is fleshed out. and with the added scenes, which were not necessary i think but did add increase the rich details of the frames.

however, the obvious metaphor of the unicorn was absolutely unnecessary. director scott is a talented filmmaker and he's had 2 decades now to piece together this film as he wanted it, i guess. scott did a fine job connecting the deckard's daydream of the unicorn with the origami unicorn at the end when deckard leaves the city with rachel. yet, i don't buy it. i don't think deckard is a replicant and that is why he has such a crisis of faith and is soul-sick of killing. you don't have to be the enemy to be sick of killing the enemy. the unicorn metaphor, that mythical, pure creature is simply a distraction to this viewer. the daydream itself is incongruous with the tone of the film. it would be better to leave it out, and maybe leave the metaphor for the true believers that deckard is a replicant as the wisp of a hint with the origami piece at the end.

another thing. when batty meets his maker tyrell and says, 'i want more life, fucker' it is an extraordinary scene. god here is a flawed human animal, even if he's the god of life only by making batty and other replicants like him. the line is miltonic in its power. the rebel angel returned home to clash with, and finally vanquish, his maker, even if that is met with the crude force of strength. but in the final cut batty says to tyrell, 'i want more life, father' which leeches the scene of its power. batty in every sense is not simply the prodigal son even if tyrell calls him that. he's the bastard angel who wants the knowledge and power of god himself. when god can't help him achieve that power he kills his god. batty's own power and rebellious nature is made clear when he calls tyrell 'fucker'. the scene so astonished me tonight i believe i said aloud, 'what the fuck'.

even so, the movie is a beauty to behold, esp. on the big screen. there were other connections i've not made before, such as the wounds to the right hands each of batty and deckard, as if they were mirrors of each other in the final scenes. and the penultimate scene where batty gives his famous speech, the silences due to the lack of narration give the moment much more weight, i'll grant. again, perhaps it seemed more powerful to me because i know the story so well that i could just go deep into the scene and read it as it unfolded. if i had watched the film for the first time tonight i might've been lost.

but i wasn't. oh another thing. i was amused to rediscover that the los angeles of 2019, envisaged via 1982, is pretty analog and that 2 of the prominent adverts in the film, pan am and tdk, are no longer around. yet the movie is pretty prescient giving asian cultures a big share of the culture of the film to which asian cultures are indeed becoming big influences upon our lives.

this is ridley scott's masterpiece. the movie is so rich in ontological examinations and nature of being, as well as being quite a piece of violent noir, that the famous film by the wachowski bros appear to be a vain and pretentious clap-trap of braudillardean theses. which the matrix was, i think, silly and pretentious, even if it was entertaining, and it was. but if you want to examine reality and what makes us human, then runner is your film. you can set your phd dissertation to that noise.


At 12:18 PM, Blogger Logan Ryan Smith said...

I saw BLADERUNNER for the first time in '99, I think. I saw the director's cut, so I viewed it for the first time without the narration. And I think I might have been a little lost at times, but I think that added to the mystery, which could be sought out and discovered, without the narration. With the narration some of the mystery is lost. Actually, I've never watched the original version with the narration all the way thru. I saw part of it on TV and couldn't handle the narration so I stopped watching.

I wish the Final Cut was still in theaters around here. I still haven't seen it.

Anyway, great review.

At 8:48 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

that's interesting that the final cut hasn't played in sf yet. figured it got to sac only after it opened in every major city.

try getting the 4-disc dvd where it has the original theatrical print, the european print, the director's print, and the final cut. if that sounds like too much of a good thing, and it is, i just must confess my own geekiness.

as for the narration, give it another go. the narration is what connects the movie to traditional noir. and tho the penultimate scene with batty dying is powerful without the narration, i still missed hearing deckard narrate that in the end batty loved live, anyone's life, even mine. that is powerful stuff and compliments nicely ford's facial expressions.

speaking of facial expressions, i think an essay can be written on the characters' lack of affect, which again my booster the theory that deckard is a replicant. there is also a child-like rapture in the figure of batty as he discovers the awkwardness of sex and his own flaming desire for pris. and pris it can be argued has a cow when she is shot. a literal tantrum much in the fashion of a small child who is learning to cope with the complexities of feelings.


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