Like Tears in the Rain: Dre on his Multiple Screenings, Meanings and Watching’s of Blade Runner - The Five Disc Set
Posted by Dellamorte
Reviewed by Andre Dellamorte
With so many cuts, allow me to recite my history of seeing Blade Runner. Indulge me.
First viewing: 1987, videocassette. I had rented the film for unknown reasons (literally I can’t remember what sent me to the film. Possibly Harrison Ford, perhaps the Sci-Fi setting) It was the old videotape release, I want to say I got it from a little corner video store near Lloyd Center – I rented it, my father (now deceased, so I can speak ill of him) rented a porno. My parents kicked me out of the house, so I watched it at Pat and Mike’s place, my closest friends at the time, and people I have not spoken with on going on ten years now. By this point (I was 11) I knew that my parents wanted the house to themselves so they could have sex. We liked the spinning cars, and such, but the film didn’t make much of an impression, and I was somewhat distracted by first being made aware rather directly of my parent’s sexual drives. It felt weird. I could not go home because they wanted the house to themselves.
Second Viewing: Summer of 1990, Criterion CAV laserdisc. I went to Captain Video in Lake Oswego to purchase a laserdisc player. I had heard about the format through Siskel and Ebert, who dedicated an entire show to the purpose of educating audiences about letterboxing. I probably saw this episode in 1989 or 1988, but few things have made as much sense to me. I wanted the whole picture, and by 14 I was a movie nerd, so I gathered what little money I had at the time, and ponied up for a player. I bought Lethal Weapon 2 because it was relatively cheap ($25), and rented Blade Runner. Going to Lake Oswego was a bit of a drive, so rentals were always a concern and getting laserdiscs in Portland, Oregon was always a hassle, but my father grudgingly made time for this, and would eventually get me going to NW Portland, where Trilogy Video had a growing collection of discs. For my second viewing I was a little more into the film, interested in the additional gore made available by The Criterion Collection, and fascinated by being able to go frame by frame through the feature, a function that made the pause button look silly in comparison. I was a born-again convert, and though my collection would grow, Blade Runner christened my personal laserdisc experience (and no other film could be so fitting, though the first film I watched on an LD player was The Empire Strikes Back). And yet I watched it more out of obligation. The film had grown on me over those three years, but I think (and this has always been a problem) that it felt more like obligation than love.
Third Viewing: Fall of 1992, Theatrical, Director’s Cut, 70 MM, Lloyd Center. After school, I went over to the Lloyd Center to see the Director’s cut on the big screen. My best friend at the time, Chris Houser, swore by the film, but as he grew older (even though he got the original one sheet framed) waned on the picture. Seeing on the big screen with my closest HS friend Dan Sanderson (who I went out last night and got fucked up with, so I guess certain things never change) it was impressive, but when I wrote about it for my school newspaper (yes, I’ve been writing reviews for almost twenty years now and haven’t gotten much better at it) I gave it and Tron (which I decided to write about) three stars apiece.
Fourth through sixth viewing: 1993-ish, Warner Brothers Director’s Cut – CAV laserdisc – For forty or fifty bucks the Director’s cut version hit laser, and was half as expensive as the Criterion version with virtually the same content. I bought it and watched it accordingly. I didn’t fall in love, though. I’m pretty sure I took it to college, and never watched it. It was just a good disc to have.
Seventh Viewing – 2000, A Friend’s basement, 35mm, Director’s Cut – The breakthrough screening. Blade Runner – in every iteration – has a clunky opening act. This became more prevalent in the latest viewing, but the third act, with Deckard (Harrison Ford) chasing Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) the film achieves something amazing. I walked out of the screening stating that I once thought that The Right Stuff was the last film of the 1970’s (even though it was released in 1983), but that Blade Runner might be the last film of the 70’s, whereas Raiders of the Lost Ark was the first film of the 1980’s. The poetry of the final sequence finally spoke to me, and for the first time I was watching the film, simply watching it.
Eighth Viewing – 2007, Warner Brothers Lot – 4K projection – Final Cut with James Hong in Attendance – Being friendly with guys who made the disc (full disclosure, I know most of the guys behind the five disc set), I got invited on the lot to watch the restoration, the final cut. My father died the day before. I was hung over like a motherfucker, though I’m not sure if mother-fuckers get hung over from fucking mothers. I assume so, otherwise, they wouldn’t be fucking mothers. You’ve got to be a mother for me now. I was sideways. I watched Into the Wild the night before, and spent much of the night before (and the next week) getting drunk. It’s interesting that a film so concerned with fathers and gods would be so closely associated for me with my father. The screening was revelatory. I had saw things the likes of which you will never see. The Orion… Fuck off. But seriously, watching in that way was perfect. It also cemented what I think is the biggest problem with the film, which is that M. Emmett Walsh and Gaff’s Edward James Olmos have to explain to Rick Deckard what he has to do, and then shows him pictures of the people he’s investigating. If this sequence could be eliminated, I would have no problem calling the film a masterpiece, and it is, but a flawed one at that. This may tie into the theory of Deckard qua replicant, but I don’t buy it. What makes this film amazing is the world built. Sir Ridley Scott likes to go on about how he creates worlds, and he does, but here the text is so dense it’s no surprise the film gets better with repeat viewings, and that new things are discovered along the way. Truly, this is a film about design, and that’s always been the biggest hang up. I think Frank Darabont gets it right on the supplements. It’s a big box holding a tiny gift. But the profundity of that gift is not to be missed by the exteriors.
If I have to tell you what Blade Runner is about, you’re lost. Rick Decakrd is sent in to take care of four replicants who’ve escaped from the off world, and returned to Los Angeles, America looking for their creator. Along the way, Deckard meets their (his) maker, Tyrell (Joe Turkel), who introduces him to Rachael (Sean Young, the model of every woman in anime for the last forever) who is also a replicant. Only she doesn’t know it. As he hunts down the four (Brion James, Joanna Cassidy, Darryl Hannah and Hauer) he comes to realize what it means to be alive, and what it means to die. The Replicants hook up with J.F. Sebastian (William Sanderson) who gives them access to Tyrell. My English professor in college suggested that the finale of the film was the best representation of Frankenstein that has ever been put to screen. I think there is a truth to that.
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