I went to see Blade Runner: The Final Cut tonight with Kara, during its limited engagement at the Ziegfeld theater here in New York.
In a word? Awesome.
And I do not say this lightly. I have been a major Blade Runner geek since I first saw the film on cable in the early 1980s; I came to revere it during my four years at NYU Film School, during which I saw a special theatrical screening of the original film at the Cinema Village theater on 12th street. Over the course of my film-school education, I wrote at least four, and possibly five term papers on various aspects of Blade Runner, ranging from its cinematic inception of cyberpunk to its blending of eras and genres to its religious symbolism, and much more.
As much as I have always loved and admired this film, I have also been one of the most unforgiving critics of both its original theatrical version and its so-called “Director’s Cut”, which in fact was nothing of the sort. The original and Director’s Cut versions are rife with glaring continuity errors both visual and spoken, as well as poor stunt-double shots. The original was marred by the peripatetic voice-over and the tacked-on happy ending; the Director’s Cut did away with those atrocities, but did nothing to address the other, more systemic problems.
This version does. Blade Runner: The Final Cut is the movie that I have always wanted to see. All the visual continuity errors I’ve been bitching about for nigh on 25 years? Fixed, thanks to the magic of Dolby ProTools and digital restoration. The bad stunt-double shots? Fixed, thanks to a re-shoot with actress Joanna Cassidy and more digital magic. The dialogue continuity errors? Re-edited and fixed. And best of all? These repairs are all subtle and seamlessly integrated into the film. If you hadn’t known where the errors originally were, you’d never know they’d been fixed.
The picture looks better than I’ve ever seen it, with stunning clarity, depth, and color intensity. The sound quality is hypnotic and crystal clear. I could’ve done with a touch less gore during Roy Batty’s scene with Eldon Tyrell, but I can live with it if that’s what Ridley Scott wants.
Don’t write this off as just another cheap ploy to make you buy another copy of a movie you already own. For the first time that I can remember, this one is actually worth it. I pray someone holds this up to George Lucas’s face one day and says, “See, you heavy-handed butcher of other directors’ films? This is how you restore a classic work of cinema! Get on your knees and grovel before Ridley Scott!”
As if you had to ask — I am definitely putting this DVD on my Christmas wish list. And if you have a chance to get out to the theater to see this on the big screen, I beg you: Go.