The Running of the Blades

Tonight I watched the “Final Cut” of Blade Runner. Last time I saw it was probably on a VHS tape; I’m not sure I ever saw it theatrically. Here are some assorted thoughts I started to type up into Mastodon and decided to move here instead.

Blade Runner depicts a used-up future in which every corner is full of junk, and white people are just another shade in the crowd. But their stories are the only ones that matter to us, it seems.

Every scene is full of smoke and dust. Polluted air, or legalized pot?

Visual theme: Eyes. So many close-ups of eyes on screens. Luminous owl eyes. And of course the scene where Batty pops Tyrell’s head and gouges Tyrell’s eyes out. I turned away during that one. Even when I was a teen boy I didn’t revel in gore like that, much less as a fortysomething lady.

Also holy crap the scene where Deckard comes on to Rachel is super rapey. Trap her against the wall, ignore her saying no, TELL her to say “kiss me”? This is not consent, no matter how much Vangelis wailing away on the synthosax tries to persuade us otherwise.

It is a movie full of Signifying Images that does not care to do more than vaguely hint at what these Significators may Signify. Blah blah unicorn blah blah replicant blah blah Deckard, okay sure, I can see that, mostly coming out of Gaff’s little match-man and his comments at the end. (Apparently Ridley Scott directed it with Replicant Deckard in mind, and apparently the sequel completely goes with Human Deckard.)

I feel like there is something going on with the Off-World Colonies Ad blimp. We see it several times over the course of the movie, with the Off-World Colonies ad slowly being replaced by an Asian lady saying something my English-only ears can’t even begin to comprehend. The last time we see it, it’s flashing its lights into the Bradbury Building as Deckard enters, on his way up to kill Pris: No new life awaits anyone in this movie any more.

It has very compelling set design. Which is helped by the fact that it’s a noir, and every scene is either in the rain at night, or dramatically lit by low-angle sunlight. This hides a lot of the edges of the world in shadow. And hides mistakes. I should remember that, it feels like a useful trick.

The “Final Cut” didn’t include the voice-overs of the original theatrical release. I didn’t miss them. I don’t think I’m going to pop in disc 2, which has two theatrical cuts (US and Europe) as well as the “Director’s Cut”. One version is enough. Especially when Wikipedia informs me the “Final” version is the only one lacking studio interference with the film Scott was trying to make…

  1. When Siskel and Ebert reviewed the Director’s Cut of this, they both mentioned that, whereas they usually did not care for voice-overs, they both felt removing them lessened the film somewhat because Ford did it so well.

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