JAMES KIRK RECOMMENDS
Science Fiction Classics Worth Checking Out
BLADE RUNNER: THE FINAL CUT (2007) 5 STARS OUT OF 5
Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, M. Emmett Walsh, Daryl Hannah, Joanna Cassidy; from the novel by Phillip K. Dick; directed by Ridley Scott.
How many versions of Blade Runner are there? Seven or so, maybe more, depending on how you’re counting and who you’re reading.
It was released theatrically in 1982, and afterward rumor had it that the studio had taken final cut away from director Ridley Scott and made changes. By the late 1980s there was what was then called a “director’s cut” of the film floating around, now known as the “workprint version,” which I managed to see screened back in college. It was different from the theatrical version. It contained no titles, lacked the Harrison Ford voice over, and it there was no Vangelis soundtrack. Instead, this cut of the film had a mish-mash of sampled which was presumably added by the director to set the mood and tone of his cut of the film. I seem to recall numerous differences in how many of the scenes were cut, but it’s been 20 years.
I do recall that the “workprint” version I saw in the early 1990’s was a little different than the version I saw in the 1980’s.
At that time, rumor also held that there was a version of the film which contained the fabled unicorn dream sequence, suggesting that Deckard was a replicant.
Fast-forward to the 90s, when the officially labeled “Director’s Cut” was released. It was similar to the workprint cut I had seen years before, but with the addition of the Vangelis score and the unicorn. But this “Director’s Cut” was not definitive enough. Ridley Scott, the director of Blade Runner, did not actually cut the “Director’s Cut,” but was merely consulted.
Released in theaters in 2007 was an incarnation called the “The Final Cut,” which is now out on DVD and Blue-Ray. This is the only “Ridley Scott Approved” version of the film. I saw this at Seattle’s Cinerama and was stunned by the crispness of the print, the boldness of the sound, and the impressed with the overall presentation of the film on the giant Cinerama screen.
However, “The Final Cut” adds very little to “The Director’s Cut,” though footage that had been previously trimmed from numerous scenes has been reedited here. A few of the effects shots have been tweaked, though not to the extent that Lucas revisited the effects in Star Wars. One of the most important changes, though small, is that the unicorn dream sequence has been recut a little differently, presumably to give it more weight than it had in “The Director’s Cut.”
Perhaps the biggest change is Zhora’s “retirement,” which was reshot for this version of Blade Runner, with Joanna Cassidy reprising her role. It’s a better sequence.
So if you’re checking out Blade Runner for the first time, or again for the first time in a long time, “The Final Cut” is the way to go.