Monday, September 03, 2007

Blade Runner

Blade Runner along with Alien were groundbreaking movies by Ridley Scott.

Unfortunately I have to disagree with him about excising the voice over from his 1992 Directors Cut of Blade Runner.

I found it less satisfying than that with the voice over, though I agree with him that the 'happy ending' in the original sucked.

He has reissued it again for release this fall containing 5 DVD's. And the narration is still excised. So I will see if it really captures the Noir genre it comes from which did often use voice overs.

There is no rambling voiceover by Ford, which the film’s distributors, Warner Bros, originally insisted on for the hard-of-thinking. Here Rick Deckard keeps his thoughts to himself and is infinitely more interesting for it.

This simple conceit makes the film a colder and lonelier place. It was always ravishingly dark. Scott’s vision of Los Angeles in 2019 is the ultimate movie dystopia: a fabulous hell of skyscrapers and monolithic Fritz Lang factories. The sky is cluttered with fuming aircraft and floating neon adverts. It never stops raining on the cramped and seedy streets, and everyone, apart from Ford, smokes like a chimney.

What does it mean to be human in such a diseased world? This is the thrust of Scott’s film noir, which has aged quite brilliantly.

Blade Runner's new cut

Twenty-five years after "Blade Runner" was panned by critics and pulled from theaters, British director Ridley Scott savors revenge with the final cut of the science-fiction film now considered a cult classic.

Presenting the new version of what he considers his most accomplished movie, Scott recalled the difficulties he had when he first pitched the work to Hollywood.

The response at early sample screenings before the official release in June 1982 was so weak that the producers forced Scott to add voice-overs to the film and change the final scene to make it a more "happy ending."

"I thought I'd really nailed it, I really thought I'd nailed it. And the person I used to show it to was my brother (director Tony Scott). And my brother, he loved it so much. Then we preview, and the previews are really, really bad, and my confidence is really dented," said Scott.

The reworking of the film led to "voice overs which started to explain what was about to happen, who the characters were and who was going to do what to who, which is the antithesis of a good movie making process," he said.

Over the years, five versions of the film have been released, including a director's cut in 1992. But Scott said the "Final Cut" -- which will be issued as a collector's DVD edition later in the winter -- was "really as it was intended to be."

So what did you really want to have in your Final Cut?

Ridley Scott: Well, certainly get rid of the voiceover once and for all. If you get rid of the voiceover, then you do not want the ending. This is a film noir. It's an Elmore Leonard kind of influence or Philip Marlowe. This is a Marlowe-esque kind of story which of course is Mr.Dick and Mr.Fancher. Do Androids [Dream of Electric Sheep] has about 17 stories in the first 25 pages, so there was a big distillation right down to the bottom line of what this is about. That was the agony and the ecstasy of working with Hampton and Michael Deeley way back when. We were trying to get this down to a screenplay that we could make. I was completely for voiceover. There was all this bullsh*t saying I was against voiceover. Absolute horse twaddle. I was there and when Harrison and I would talk about this saying, "You like this?" I said, "Well, I think there's a possibility that if we're confusing the audience who are saying, 'What's cityspeak? What is this? What is that?' We may have to explain a few things. If we can get the right words, then it could work." Because three years earlier, there was a film called Apocalypse Now where you have an incredibly important voiceover which is the entire internalization of Martin Sheen's part, who is a man who seems to be a nihilist where you would not know what he's thinking if he didn't have that voiceover. The voiceover was brilliantly written and brilliantly delivered by Martin Sheen. So I hung my hat on that thinking that it may be a possibility, because also it's Philip Marlowe, because also it's Elmore Leonard and Mr. Dick, Philip Dick. But that's the style. He's a cop. He's a dark cop who's a bit of an alcoholic. He's a nihilist who hates himself and hates his job. Sounds like Elmore Leonard to me. And therefore out of it should come a great voiceover. We couldn't crack it. And Harrison really tried and I really tried and I think the voice was becoming over explanatory. When all you're going to do is sit there and actually see how it evolves, or you work it out, 10 minutes off. A film should always be ahead of the audience, not the audience parallel to the movie.

Crave Online: There is a work print on the DVD which has a better voice over than the theatrical cut.

Ridley Scott: Yeah, it's okay. It felt like it could come in and it could be okay, and Harrison's got a great voice and a very listenable to voice, a very deep voice. But we couldn't get the words quite right so that Harrison felt comfortable, so it really did feel like him inside. Most of it was very tricky.

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Another issue with the original release was the failure to release the awesome groundbreaking electronc sound track by Vangelis.

Android Love Cry

Just as a graphic novel will never be awarded the book of the year honors, Android Love Cry will never be acknowledged as album of the year. Why? Think about science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. Science fiction is your first clue, we don’t suppose great literature can be science fiction, but Dick wrote some fantastic fiction, even a story (forty years before Philip Roth) pondering what if the Nazi’s had won W.W.II and occupied the United States. But you’ll never see his name listed with the greatest writers of his time, although his works have been turned into motion pictures including; Minority Report, Total Recall, Paycheck and Blade Runner.

What does Blade Runner have to do with Android Love Cry from Tigersmilk? The original title of the 1982 Ridley Scott film was Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and certainly the music made by this trio could be the soundtrack for a modern remake of the film.

These thirteen pieces lead you into flights of imagination—story lines appear, old science fiction movies like Silent Running, The Andromeda Strain or The Omega Man rerun in your head. But this music isn’t your “Hearts of Space” smooth ambient sounds. This trio meshes improvisation seamlessly with the science. Bassist Roebke is quite adept at adapting his double-bass to his partners and their effects. Although the highlight of the disc might be the 56-second “Circuit Overload Demise,” where he opens with a monstrous attack of bass energy before playing against drummer and computer plunks, the display of control and power is awe-inspiring.

And Scott has announced the death of Science Fiction Film...

Me thinks he speaks tongue in cheek considering his latest movie is a Western. And in this case he can't complain if it bombs, he didn't direct it. And like Blade Runner it appears it too will be cursed by the critics. Much like Michael Cimino's over budget ill fated 'Heavens Gate'.
'The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford'
Brad Pitt plays legendary outlaw Jesse James in the Warner Bros. release;
The Assassination of Jesse James By the Coward Robert Ford

Whether it directly resembles them or not, this impeccable new picture is at one with the adventurous spirit that produced such films as "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," "Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid," "Bad Company," "The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid," "Jeremiah Johnson," "The Outlaw Josey Wales," "Days of Heaven," "The Long Riders" and, yes, "Heaven's Gate," rather than with anything being made today.

Shot two years ago and long delayed in editing, pic marks an enormous advance for Dominik beyond his 2000 Aussie prison crimer "Chopper." Elegant, artful and consumed by a fascination with American history and Western lore, his adaptation of Ron Hansen's popular 1983 novel retills the once overworked ground of outlaw legend so thoroughly that it has become fertile once again. Pic's hefty 160-minute running time will no doubt cause carping in some quarters, but this is one film whose length seems absolutely right for what it's doing.

"Assassination of Jesse James" a celluloid crime

Coming from the production companies of the film's star, Brad Pitt, and Ridley and Tony Scott and based on Hansen's well-received novel, the film's pedigree probably means a solid opening week. However, word-of-mouth might kill the movie faster than Robert Ford killed Jesse James.


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1 comment: said...

Intersesting article...I remember seeing the original film at my local cinema and it blew me away with its atmosphere. The film covered the dangers of human cloning years before it became a popular subject. This was/is Great Sci-Fi becuase it blended myth, vision & reality.

The soundtrack by Vangelis just perfected it all, I listen to the music continually as I paint and have done so recently more often since the release of the New Vangelis 3CD set..Thanks...
David Jewell