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Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Review Written by: Chris Burns
Film: A+
Video/Audio/Extras: A+/A+/A+

Directed by: Ridley Scott
Written by: Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples
Based on the book by: Philip K. Dick
Produced by: Michael Deeley and Charles de Lauzirika
Starring: Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, M. Emmett Walsh, Daryl Hannah, Joanna Cassidy
Buy it!, Buy it, rent it or skip it: Buy it!

Spoilers follow. Please take caution when proceeding, as this brief essay is only recommended for people who have seen the film at hand.

To say that I anticipated Blade Runner: The Final Cut would be an understatement; I simply fell head over heels in love for it. Just the notion of a new -supposedly definitive- Final Cut made my mouth water. This preconceived notion that Blade Runner would finally be receiving a collector's edition DVD, a cinema re-release, a surfacing of two relatively unseen cuts (the European and Bootleg cuts) and a long awaited, often discussed Final Cut supervised by Ridley Scott himself sounded like eternal bliss. On top of this, each version of the film had been re-mastered to the finest microscopic detail, almost as though each frame had obtained the same devoted level of scrutiny as the one prior. Scott has indeed crafted a cut which is "entirely intended" and has been sought upon since 1982. Upon slotting in the almost unseen Final Cut I thought to myself "I am complete, this is a dream come true", by the time the closing credits had rolled I knew this thought had been established.

Work on The Final Cut commenced in 2000, but no extensive news had leaked outside of Scott's personal-circle till 2006 when the release of this "new version" was deep in progress. Suddenly, Blade Runner forums across the internet burst to life, the cult supporters babbled over the constantly emerging (sometimes ridiculous) rumours, while the film's director was in a studio working on the cut. To satisfy us -poorly treated until now- Blade Runner fans, Ridley Scott released his digitally re-mastered Director's Cut (until this point the Director's Cut was out of circulation and the only copies distributed were sold for extortionate prices) at the late end of 2006. In some respects this was a marketing-ploy, sold to assure fans like myself that a special-edition was soon to arrive and that the closest intended cut for now was the re-mastered Director's Cut. I fell for this trick, being the fanboy that I was and remain; only to find that seven-or-so months later a five-disc collector's edition was up for pre-order. Of course, I pre-ordered this edition right away, acknowledging that this was what I had long been awaiting after many years of delays (and for some since 1982). Finalised for release on December 3rd, the day already became a benchmark for the Blade Runner community.

Inside my eagerly awaited DVD was a letter from Ridley Scott addressed to the fans. In the letter he briefly explains (endlessly detailed in the supplementary features) his feelings towards the collection, stating the edition and Final Cut as "definitive" and glosses (no pun intended) over the re-mastering process. I quote; "the film’s 35mm footage was scanned at 4K resolution off the original negative, while its groundbreaking visual effects were scanned at 8K off pristine 65mm elements." Undergoing the meticulously laboured process of re-mastery is something Blade Runner has deserved for a numerous number of years and let's be thankful that such a time has finally come around. Personally speaking, the Final Cut is the way to watch Blade Runner, since it is what was wanted all along and the director's intentions (for a film which has always been a masterpiece) should be respected to the utmost degree, especially from a globe-spanning league of admirers. Even if you are content with a current and individually preferred cut, you should still pay the mere duty of at least viewing the new, finalised cut.

Nevertheless, there are always going to be criticisms pitched towards The Final Cut, even more so from die-hard Blade Runner fans. I am referring to people who claim the picture has an identity crisis and the objectors who cite Scott as a man who has dabbled in his film's mechanisms and philosophies to an unrecognisable degree of alternating realities. I for one was speaking to a friend about the new cut and he stated that certain aspects of the film (most notably the notion of Deckard being a Replicant) has become overly amplified, whereby the original placing of subtle suggestions and implications have disappeared in return for a considerably more blatant method of exposure. Like me, he adores Blade Runner and although ecstatic about the special-edition he is still unsure about which version he deems to be the "correct" one and wonders whether the Final Cut is an excuse to clean small "goofs." In addition, much dismay has been shed over the fundamentally crucial suggestion of our "hero" being a Replicant and although such a notion has always existed, it has only been until now that it has developed into a far less covert implication than in prior versions. In conclusion, it all boils down to preference, as Scott says in the DVD introduction "this is my preferred cut of the film." I would have to concur.

For years now I have been watching the "readily" available Director's Cut and such a cut has always been a flawless film, but the Final Cut enabled me to realise flawlessness has the ability to become even more perfected. Even with all this joy, sorrow still remains; the knowledge that Blade Runner has -in retrospect- finally been completed is a tender reminder that a director’s satisfaction marks the closing of a project and one which has exceeded two decades. That alone is disheartening, but also pleasing because it shows a man can rest knowing the version he intended is now broadly available for the all-seeing public eye. All in all, the release is a vivid reminder that 2019 is only drawing closer and that is not a notion, but an undeniable fact. And for those of you who are fortunate enough to of never seen Blade Runner, then treat yourself to a first-viewing of the Final Cut, so you can experience what Ridley Scott had wanted all along. Such a stunt will be envied.

The Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition of Blade Runner contains all the versions as follows:
- The Final Cut (2007)
- The Director's Cut (1992)
- The International Theatrical Cut (1982)
- The U.S. Theatrical Cut (1982)
- The Workprint Cut (1982)*

*Please note that the Workprint is an essential version, which effectively acts as a scribbling of ideas, while surfacing a heavy noir ambience (Deckard being the Bogart of sci-fi).

If you are interested in acknowledging the varying differences between each cut, check these links:
The Wikipedia page
The IMDb page
My review of the film

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