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Old November 17th, 2007, 08:42 PM   #1
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Blade Runner in 4k and the role of the voice-over in movies

I caught Blade Runner a few nights ago, re-mastered in 4k (I believe) and shown on a Sony 4k projector at the Astor theatre in Melbourne.

I hadn't seen 4k projection before and it was superb. Wow! I'd now love to see a 4k projection of a movie actually shot in 4k.

This cut might have been a bit different to the Director's Cut on DVD. I noticed a shot of a unicorn that Deckard (Harrison Ford's character) was recalling. That was new (to me) and I think was probably inserted to bolster the "Is Deckard himself a replicant?" theory. I couldn't quite swallow that theory though. The replicants could put their hands in boiling water or sub-zero liquid nitrogen with no ill effects plus had superhuman strength and could withstand lethal blows with an iron bar (Rutger Hauer's character) and only get a slight headache. Deckard was tossed around like a rag doll (even by the girls) and was easily hurt. So, unless he was a faulty pre-release "beta" model, I just couldn't buy it. And his human mortality (easily hurt) made a very good contrast to the menace of the replicants as he tracked them down.

It was good to see this cut of the director's vision. I definitely appreciated it. But, unlike the speaker who introduced the movie (and who spoke with disdain of the "studio interference" which led to the adding of the voice-over), I still prefer the original theatrical release version that I saw in late 1982. It had a profound impact on me at the time (and pretty much on anyone else who saw it) and, while it may not have been the biggest box-office success of Ridley Scott's career, it was, perhaps, his most influential movie.

And that got me to thinking (after that little speech and the movie) about what makes the action of inserting a voice-over "good" and what makes it "bad". (And the fact that the director and lead actor didn't like it does not automatically make it "bad".)

Would Sunset Boulevard have been as good without the voice-over by the dead guy floating in the pool. Would Sin City have been as involving without the voice-overs?

Billy Wilder once said that there were no rules about voice-overs. But just to make sure that the voice-over isn't telling the audience about things they're already seeing on the screen. And that it's a good way to cut five pages out of the script - just summarize it with a quick voice-over.

I've concluded that one definite "good" use of voice-over is when you have a lead character in a very degraded society (or situation). The voice-over can get you MORE EMOTIONALLY INVOLVED with the lead character by outlining his/her thoughts and moral code. Such as Marv in Sin City, who always liked hit men because no matter what he did to them, he never felt bad about it the next day.

You might not get that level of emotional involvement without the voice-over.

Of course, some filmmakers can very successfully get across the thoughts and moral codes of their main characters without using voice-over. I'm thinking (for example) of Howard Hawks with The Big Sleep and Rio Bravo.

Anyway, the new DVD release of Blade Runner (in Australia in December) should make everyone happy. I think (but I'm not 100% certain) it's got the original 1982 US theatrical release version, the international one (1982), plus at least two director's cuts.
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Old November 18th, 2007, 09:00 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by David Knaggs View Post
The replicants could put their hands in boiling water or sub-zero liquid nitrogen with no ill effects plus had superhuman strength and could withstand lethal blows with an iron bar
I don't think Sean Young's character could do that, could she? I never followed this issue very carefully, but maybe the idea is that Ford and Young were both part of the same series?
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Old November 18th, 2007, 09:50 AM   #3
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Boyd points out the 'otional take' on Deckards character, that he and the girl were 'more human' versions of replicants. Of course, if you read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"... the book upon which the movie is 'based'... it really isn't an issue at all. Of course, the book has almost no bearing on the movie anyway.

The voiceover is a 'traditional element' of 'film noir'. As such, there are aesthetic reasons for including it in what was, at the time, a cutting edge approach to what we might term 'future noir', or neo noir. There are many elements of film noir apparent in the movie, and at the same time, there are stark departures from what critic Paul Schrader termed the key defining elements of the genre. Not the least of which, is the fact it was shot in color. (Schrader claims black and white is one of the key defining elements...)

My feeling is that the film is no better, and no 'worse' for the voice over. It does serve to give the film a tiny bit of a push into the neo-noir genre, that non film buffs might need to say to themselves, "Ah, it's like a Mickey Spillaine film, set in the future... Think about Bogart in this role..." There are other artistic elements, that seek to give the film a 'retro feel' to it. Think of the liquor bottle in the commanders filing cabinet (Played by E. Emmet Walsh.) How many times have we seen the Captain/Seargeant pull the liquor bottle out of the filing cabinet for a surreptitious drink in these scenes? And the whole neo forties look of his office... an old oak filing cabiner, a 1930's electric fan... Sean Young's clothing and hair. All of these artistic elements are a direct evocation of a particular genre and look.

The voiceover was one more element that was layered in (and out... and in again.) Is it too much? Too little?

At the time, the movie wasn't a big hit. Ford still doesn't like it much. "I was a detective who did no detecting..." But stylistically, one can point to it as the 'grandfather' of what we now call the neo noir movement. In a post modern sense, it has become the touch stone, or 'rosseta stone' for linking all current neo noir/future noir films to the noir films of the forties.
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Old November 27th, 2007, 07:06 PM   #4
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The voice-over went because it revealed too much. Scott rightly said that in drama the story is ahead of the viewer. If that runs counter to film noir conventions then too bad; the needs of the story come first.

I will cherish my stubs for this film! I will watch it once more this week before it goes off the screens.
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Old December 19th, 2007, 03:49 AM   #5
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Here's a review of the new final cut:

http://www.thedeadbolt.com/news/1028..._dvdreview.php
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Old December 19th, 2007, 12:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Knaggs View Post
This cut might have been a bit different to the Director's Cut on DVD. I noticed a shot of a unicorn that Deckard (Harrison Ford's character) was recalling.
The shot of a unicorn is present in the Director's Cut I have. The unicorn looks cheesy with slapped-on rubber horn.
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Originally Posted by David Knaggs View Post
And that got me to thinking (after that little speech and the movie) about what makes the action of inserting a voice-over "good" and what makes it "bad".
David, I did not quite get from your posting, but seems that the final cut has no voice-over, right? The boxset description on the Amazon is not specific on this issue. How does this cut stack up against Director's cut of 1992 aside of cleaning up picture and sound?

Generally, I don't like voice-overs. A movie is not an audio book after all. This movie is no exception, it is much better without voice-over, more visual, atmospheric, it embraces fully letting me dive into the post-industrial (or should I say post-global-warming) scenery, listening to magnificent score by Vangelis. I prefer to watch this movie alone, I turn the lights off and I don't pause it after I started watching. I watched it about ten times and I cannot get tired of it. Voice-over would definitely ruin the movie to me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Granovski View Post
Here's a review of the new final cut:

http://www.thedeadbolt.com/news/1028..._dvdreview.php
Quote:
Disc Five: Only the Ultimate Collector's Edition, which comes in a numbered steel case that resembles Deckard's briefcase includes the fifth disc, contains the legendary workprint cut.
The Five-Disc Complete Collector's Edition seems to have the workprint cut as well.

Also see this review of the boxset: http://hddvd.highdefdigest.com/1040/...unner_cce.html

Last edited by Michael Jouravlev; December 19th, 2007 at 01:31 PM.
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Old December 19th, 2007, 02:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Jouravlev View Post
David, I did not quite get from your posting, but seems that the final cut has no voice-over, right?
Correct. It has no voice-over.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Jouravlev View Post
How does this cut stack up against Director's cut of 1992 aside of cleaning up picture and sound?
It's hard to be objective, because I saw the Director's Cut DVD on a regular TV set (not a very large one) and I saw this one in 4k and it was stunning!
The opening scene (Leon's interrogation) was so vivid in 4k. I noticed everything. It pulled me right in and I really appreciated the artistry of the entire scene. So I felt that the Final Cut was much better than the earlier Director's Cut, but it could just be the impact of the 4k talking! And you already know that my personal preference is the 1982 theatrical release version.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Jouravlev View Post
... more visual, atmospheric, it embraces fully letting me dive into the post-industrial (or should I say post-global-warming) scenery, listening to magnificent score by Vangelis.
Boy, you REALLY need to see this latest cut in a cinema in 4k!


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Originally Posted by Michael Jouravlev View Post
Voice-over would definitely ruin the movie to me.
Understood.
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Old December 22nd, 2007, 07:15 PM   #8
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I looked at The Final Cut on HD-DVD the other night. [It's also available on Blu-Ray] and I must say that I really enjoyed this version of this film.

Some scenes are extended and there are many tweaks and improvements including a new surround mix. The movie just flows a lot better.

The visible wires on the spinnners have been removed and the street chase sequence with Zhora[Joanna Cassidy]running thru the glass windows has been fixed.

I also thought it was good choice to change Roy Batty's demand to "I want more life, father!" It makes Roy a bit more sympathetic.

What was really interesting to me was the three hour documentary "Dangerous Days: The Making of Bladerunner" that is included in the set-- it features of lot deleted scenes and was an eye opener on the difficulties in the making of this film. All the major players in the making of the film are interviewed.

Definitely worth getting if you are fan of the film.
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