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New York Film Festival 2007

October 3rd, 2007 (03:09 am)

current mood: a little tired

The kids are back in school, there's a slight nip in the morning air, the leaves are just about to turn... Once again it's time for the New York Film Festival.

© 2007 D. Gordon

This year there are a few changes. The screenings aren't at Lincoln Center; Alice Tully Hall is undergoing major renovations and won't host much of anything before 2009. Instead, most of the traffic is trooping into the vertigo-inducing Frederick P. Rose Hall at Jazz At Lincoln Center. This is not the place to be short-torsoed - unless, of course, you like your handrails across the bottom of the screen or like leaning forward for a couple of hours. (And pretty much all my tickets are in the heights of the upper balcony - oh, joy.)

This year, too, we've got a new attendee. Sister Wakasa is out this way for a few days on a business trip, so we got tickets for Blade Runner: The Final Cut. This version, more closely supervised by Ridley Scott, cleans up some technical issues that the first director's cut missed, such as Harrison Ford's out-of-synch dialogue at Abdul Ben Hassan's snake shop and unintended crew members around the edges of Batty and Decker's run through the Bradbury. There's also some footage added from the work print to clarify a few things, and other changes tucked in. All in all, it's "a hundred edits" to the film.

I freely admit it's been awhile since I've seen Blade Runner, and never on the kind of equipment available today. I know I've seen the first director's cut (in the balcony of the Castro Theater, even), but I don't remember the movie opening with Leon's interview rather than the flying ad blimp. I've read about the unicorn origami, but don't remember keying into it during a viewing. To a certain degree, though, that's a plus, not a minus - it gives me a chance to see the movie "new" and to pick up on some of the "hints" and "clues" that Scott may or may not have sprinkled throughout the film.

The film, the film, the film... The film itself is a beautiful, clear print with visuals that still astound. The themes about literal and figurative environmental decay, society at the margins, and just who / what is "human" still resonate. The story isn't dated at all - no mean feat in itself - and it's easy to pick out various movies which learned from and continued its brooding look at the future (just think of the Batman movies as a start). It's amazing to see how much this movies still works.

Does a "final" director's cut add as much to the story as the first director's cut did? No. Just the removal of that annoying voiceover was something unsurpassable by any other change (no matter what the production crew said during the Q & A about being "a different person" between the two releases). Does it add much of anything beyond housekeeping? Not sure, I'd have to see the first cut again, but my first thought is... no. But it's always a joy to watch Blade Runner unspool across a screen again, and find new things to pick up on.


There's a five-disc Blade Runner box coming out around Xmas, with the work print (1982), the US theatrical release (1982), the European theatrical release (1982), the first director's cut (1992), and the current director's cut (2007). (Amazon has a slightly different lineup listed, but I'm pretty sure the above is what the production folks mentioned during the Q & A.) Although the showing was part of the film festival's retrospective, it was also clearly a promo for the DVD release. Hey, that's how the game is played these days. Given the upcoming boondoggle Down Under, I'm not sure I'll be investing in that. But it is nice to see a truly deserving movie get proper recognition. Go, Ridley.