Future Noir Now

MoviesIt’s about damn time: Blade Runner is finally going to be restored.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with this film’s checkered history (something I last talked about more than three years ago now), I’ll give you a quick rundown (for the full story, check out the amazing book Future Noir).

Before the film was released theatrically, the powers-that-be basically took it out of Ridley Scott’s hands and did some cutting; partly for violence (to ensure an “R” rating), but also to change what they felt was a “confusing” film. They cut out a dream sequence, added a hastily-recorded voiceover, and tacked on some extra footage (left over from the opening of The Shining) to manufacture a happy ending. Later on, a couple of additional versions (American and Eurpoean) were made for home video, mostly adding in some of the violence that had been trimmed before, but still keeping the voiceover and the happy ending. Then at last, the studio commissioned a definitive “Director’s Cut” that would finally present the movie the way it was originally intended. But before work could get beyond the planning stages, they discovered that one of their own film archivists was already doing some work on the film, restoring it to something reminiscent of Scott’s original intent — but without any input from Scott himself.

Rather than pay for the re-editing twice, Warner’s pulled the plug on Ridley’s version and went with the archivist’s — based solely on the fact that he was further along in the process. Tired after a decade of fighting over it, Scott allowed them to release it (both theatrically and on the new DVD format) under the heading “The Director’s Cut,” even though it was nothing of the sort. All he insisted on was that the voiceover and happy ending were gone, and that the dream sequence (a now-infamous unicorn, something that radically altered the film’s ending) was restored.

For years, there were rumors of a true “Director’s Cut” being released, but legal wrangling scuttled the project altogether.

But now, it looks like it’s finally coming to pass. First, there’ll be a DVD rerelease of the so-called “Director’s Cut” (worthwhile in and of itself, in that the original release is a pretty primitive transfer by modern standards), and then — finally — a theatrical run of the definitive Ridley Scott version of Blade Runner (followed in turn by a multi-version DVD set).

And I doubt we’ll see any Lucasian reimagining here — Scott’s made it pretty clear that he’s not interested in retroactively applying an old man’s sensibilities to a young man’s work (as evidenced in the recent Alien re-edit).

Some pretty good news going into the long weekend. Now I’m off to go play poker.


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