Please join me at my home at 8:00 PM, Wednesday night, June 27th, 2012.
We will be celebrating the 30th anniversary of the first Public Screening of
Ridley Scott’s futuristic, film-noir detective story MASTERPIECE…

Blade Runner: The Final Cut

…with a private viewing of the full length feature film in my modest
theater from the Blu-ray 5-Disc Complete Collectors Edition.

Unless you have seen this edit, first released in December 2008 with this Blu-ray 5-disc set, you’ve NEVER seen this film the way it was intended. First, this is a 4K transfer – the original 70 mm print was scanned and processed at 4K (4096×2160) resolution via digital intermediate for this release.

More importantly, all those little “buggy” issues have been addressed. What do I mean? Well, remember being keenly aware that it was a stunt woman instead of Joanna Cassidy playing Zhora, breaking through the panes of glass after Deckard shot her, or the serial number on the snake scale on screen being completely different from serial number the Asian lady technician was reading off on the soundtrack, or the dove flying out of Roy Batty’s hands at the end into a clear blue sky instead of a dark, rainy, 2019 LA night? All that, and MUCH MORE (see the detailed information below), has been addressed with seamless and PRISTINE CGI.

As you’d expect, the film’s editing has been massaged lightly — here and there — but this time, to Ridley’s exact instructions. Like the 1992 version, this new The Final Cut omits the Deckard narration and the happy ending. Ridley has made subtle trims here and there to tighten the footage. With the narration now thankfully removed, he felt that some shots went on a little too long.

But he’s also added and restored material. For example, the unicorn scene is now a little longer and more effective. It was actually the originally-intended version, the complete footage for which couldn’t be found for use in the ’92 cut. And, little bits of footage from both the “international” and “workprint” versions have made it into the film here and there as well, including a number of street/atmosphere shots and more intense moments of violence involving the various character deaths. And here’s something you other true fans will appreciate; those of you who recall the infamous hockey-masked geisha dancers will be pleased to know that they do reappear in this The Final Cut…

Scores of subtle digital changes and tweaks have been made to correct problems that couldn’t be addressed during the original production. For example, the wires supporting the practical, on-set Spinner vehicles have been removed. In a couple of street shots, members of the production crew accidentally appeared in the edges of the frame – they’re gone now. Various matte lines have been erased and much detail that was lost due to matte issues has been restored. When you see the infamous “eye” shot at the beginning of the film, the optical printing process employed at the time wouldn’t allow for a moving image of the eye to be used.So now, in this The Final Cut, you’ll notice the pupil iris reacts slightly to the plume of fire billowing before it.

Other digital corrections fix continuity errors. In the original shooting script, Leon and Deckard fought in the street before Zhora was retired, so the make-up reflected this on set. When the film was edited together, however, Leon and Deckard’s fight was moved to after Zhora’s retirement. But the bruise on Deckard’s face from the fight was still there, before the fight actually happened on screen, so it’s been erased digitally.

In another instance, the first time you see Roy Batty on screen in the sidewalk Vidphone booth, the shots were actually stolen from later in the film (a moment of Roy at the Tyrell Corporation, I believe, and a shot of him in the Bradbury building). So the lighting and the backgrounds you saw in those shots didn’t match the booth or the rain-soaked streets behind it. Now they do. There’s also a scene where Deckard is talking to an old Asian woman about the snake scale he’s found. She’s reading a serial number from a microscope… but when you saw that serial number on the screen, it didn’t match. Now it does. The vast majority of these digital effects tweaks are so subtle that only fans who are intimately familiar with the film will even notice them.

On the other hand, a few of the digital fixes correct more serious problems with the film in its previous incarnations. For example, when Roy releases the dove at the end of the film, the bird flies away into a clear blue daylight sky; it just didn’t match anything you’d seen before. So a new digital L.A. cityscape, circa 2019, was created for the shot so that it does finally match.

There’s also a shot when Deckard is talking to the snake dealer, Abdul Ben-Hassan. You hear Deckard talking, but his lip movements didn’t match the dialogue. Harrison Ford was unavailable due to scheduling issues, so his son Ben was brought in correct this. Ben was shot on an effects stage from exactly the same angle, wearing exactly the same scar (via make-up) that his father has on his chin, saying the correct lines. His mouth was digitally inserted over his father’s seamlessly.

Of course, you may have read about the infamous reshoot featuring Joanna Cassidy as her character Zhora. When news of this work was leaked on the Net, it sparked an outcry from many fans who feared that Ridley was about to pull a George Lucas and drastically alter the film with all new scenes. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Back in 1982, actress Joanna Cassidy wasn’t allowed to do the stunt where Zhora crashes through the window panes. Watching in the theater, or the original DVD (and especially now in high-definition), it was painfully obvious that it was a stuntwoman in those shots; it wasn’t even close. The stunt woman has a bad afro-like wig on and it’s bouncing around so much in those shots that she looks like a stoned Ronald McDonald going through the glass.

So Cassidy was brought back in, dressed in her original costume and was given the same snake tattoo on her face. Then she was shot on a green screen stage using motion capture technology, going through the same movements as the stuntwoman. Her face and body angles were matched to the original stuntwoman frame by frame, so they’re virtually identical. Cassidy’s head was then digitally inserted over the stuntwoman’s and it was blended together, color-corrected and matched seamlessly. Now when Zhora is seen crashing through the glass panes, it’s actually Zhora — all the way through. The result is just amazing. The first time I saw the finished sequence, when I originally purchased this edition (it was a Christmas present to myself in 2008!), I was actively looking for the effect. I was BLOWN AWAY. That’s how good a job the CGI team has done on this.

Here’s a DVD frame grab of what the shot of Zhora crashing through the glass looked like in the original version of the film…

You’d never guess that was a stuntwoman, right? Now here’s the new digital effects shot – the actual shot from The Final Cut – in which the head of actress Joanna Cassidy has been has been inserted to replace that of the stuntwoman.

The result is completely natural looking, just as it should have been all along! It’s astonishing how well all this has been done. It’s so smoothly accomplished that those who weren’t aware they were changed would NEVER KNOW, yet the effect it has overall on the narrative IS amazing. It’s only when you go back and watch the original scene on DVD, that you fully appreciate how startling the difference is…and just how good the new effects shots are. In fact, when you see The Final Cut for yourself, I think you’ll really appreciate what a tremendous and painstaking effort has been mounted to smooth out all the rough edges in Ridley Scott’s film, as we’ve known it these many years.

If you haven’t guessed yet, by the way, I’m a real fan of Blade Runner. Simply put, this is one of my all-time favorite films. That said, Blade Runner: The Final Cut is a breathtaking experience. This is truly the ultimate vision of this classic. It’s just extraordinary after all these years to discover so much that’s new here, and to realize just how well this now 30-year-old masterpiece holds up. If you love Blade Runner like I do, this new cut is simply not to be missed. Be sure to catch it with me on this 30th anniversary in high-def, with exceptional audio and video quality – this is the special edition we’ve all been waiting for. Prepare to be dazzled…and to FINALLY see Blade Runner, as it was meant to be seen, for the very first time. NO BULL!

I hope to see you there! Please RSVP by Wednesday, June 20th. I’ll be providing the pizza, and will be asking everyone to bring their own beverage of choice…