Saturday, 2 February 2008

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe..."

This week has turned into one of me playing catch up. Having finally watched the two Grindhouse movies a few days ago, yesterday I cracked open the shrinkwrap on my Blade Runner five-disc tin (a Christmas present, no less) and spent the best part of the afternoon and evening geeking out. I love my Blade Runner. I wouldn't necessarily say it's my favourite film, but it's certainly up there. Definitely top ten. Possibly top five, depending on the day of the week. In fact, I've lost count of how many times I've seen it in its various forms, on the big screen, on video and now on DVD. Having watched the Final Cut back in September at the Venice Film Festival, I thought I'd start with restoration director Charles De Lauzarika's stellar three-and-a-half hour documentary Dangerous Days which covers the making of the movie in exhaustive detail and features interviews with almost everyone connected with the project, including Ridley Scott, Harrison Ford, Sean Young (yikes), producer Michael Deeley, the film's financiers, and numerous special effects technicians, and even the key grip and gaffer. It's an amazing achievement (although author Paul M Sammon, another talking head, covered the process in even greater detail in his book Future Noir which has just been reissued in an expanded form). So good is the documentary that I feel churlish even complaining about it, but I would have liked more information on the discovery of the workprint and how that led to 1993's Director's Cut. Plus it would have been nice too to see the deleted scenes presented separately rather than incorporated into the whole. (They may included be elsewhere on the set, but the back cover listing doesn't seem indicate it and I haven't watched everything yet.) Those minor quibbles aside, the documentary is a boone for any BR fan. Particularly eye opening was the special effects segment which reveals the pre-CGI, pre-digital methods employed. After that, there was no way I wasn't going to watch the film again and popped in the legendary workprint which is one of five different cuts included herein. As Ridley Scott says in his filmed intro, the picture quality isn't the best (it looked like I watching it on VHS) and after 20 minutes hit eject and slipped in the Final Cut and watched that instead. I'll get to the workprint soon enough, along with the commentary track featuring screenwriters Hampton Francher and David Peoples, as well as the 1982 original cut replete the happy ending and Ford's narration. I'm with Guillermo Del Toro (interviewed on the documentary) in that I've never minded the voiceover, and, strangely enough, still hear it in my head when I watch the film. This set is going to keep me happy for a long while yet.

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