Verbal Remedy AKA Denise

Verbal Remedy AKA Denise
Del Mar, California, The One That's In A State Of Steep Decline
January 18
Much preferred to the alternative.
Born. Grew up. Kept growing up. Started growing older. Still at both the growing up and growing older. Stay tuned.


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FEBRUARY 18, 2009 8:20PM

Bleak Beauty: Blade Runner 25 Years Later

Rate: 40 Flag



I first saw Blade Runner in the last remaining theater in my hometown.

Dad took me. I was 14. It was rated R. He didn't get it. I walked out a different person. A film fan, perhaps for the first time, desperately hungry for more.

Blade Runner is a feast for the eyes (BBD's screen captures are awesome--go, look! Now!) and the ears--a miraculous, once-in-a-lifetime confluence of awe-inspiring cinematography, lighting, art design, in-camera special effects, set design, costume design, story, script, and Vangelis' astonishing score.

Ridley Scott has disappointed me so many times in the years since I walked out of that dark theatre, I've lost count--but I always come back for more, hoping to be transported again, like the first time, the way he lifted me out of myself and set me down in a bleak, dank, damp, alien, dying world.

I have since seen every available version of the film: The International Cut, The Director's Cut, The Workprint, The Final Cut. I've sat rapt in front of the five-DVD collector's set and watched every second of every commentary, every special feature, every deleted/re-inserted scene. I've gone to the theatre for each re-release.  TFC is almost perfect. Almost.

The first time I watched TFC, I gasped out loud at one significant change: Roy Batty, plunging his thumbs into his creator's eye sockets, crushing his skull, hissing "I want more life...FATHER."

"Fucker" was fine. "Father" is glorious. 

God in the hands of an angry sinner.

Absolutely glorious.

I still have not seen my favorite version of the film. I haven't seen it because it's never been made.

That would be The Final Cut, plus the original, much maligned voiceover.

My idiosyncratic fondness for Harrison Ford's monotonous, world-weary, hard-boiled v.o. narrative places me firmly among the heretical faction of the film's fans. That's OK. I've always had more fun with sinners than saints, and I don't expect that's going to change.

Without that voiceover, the film loses something. It loses a connection to the tradition of film noir (seriously--can a modern film get any more noir than Blade Runner?). It loses mood. It loses emotional connection to Deckerd.

Mostly, though, it loses people.

I know. I've tried introducing the film to first-time viewers, and without the narration, they're lost. I kept a treasured VHS copy of the "Domestic Cut" for years, because it was the only one I could trot out to normal, non-sci-fi-freak friends.

Without the voiceover, a first-time viewing generally becomes a festival of pauses for Q&A. "Who is this? What are they talking about? I don't get it. What just happened? What's with the unicorn? So who's the pockfaced guy? (That's ADAMA, bitches!) Can we watch Star Wars instead?"

I don't blame them. I really don't.

The Final Cut, plus voiceover. That's all I'm asking for.



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Barry beat me to it. But I've been working on this for a few hours, so I'm not going to waste it.
OK, we may have to break up. Because I saw this when I was 13ish and I *hated* it. I walked out, in fact. Though honestly I remember nothing about it, nothing at all, just that it is one of 2 movies I ever walked out on. Then I grew up and became a huge sci-fi, horror and fantasy (to a limit) fan. So maybe I should go back and revisit it. Maybe I'll like it this time...
VR, you said, "I have since seen every available version of the film: The International Cut, The Director's Cut, The Workprint, The Final Cut. I've sat rapt in front of the five-DVD collector's set and watched every second of every commentary, every special feature, every deleted/re-inserted scene. I've gone to the theatre for each re-release. TFC is almost perfect. Almost."

Me too! Me too! This film is all sorts of brilliant.
Oh, Sandra. Honey. Next time you're in town, you are SO coming over for a couple of bottles of champagne and this movie.
Loved it the first time I saw it and loved it every time I've seen it since then.
VR, you've captured my heart again. This post is an extraordinarily paean--we're distant buddies forever. You've managed to impart passion here, that's a bit lacking in mine. I'm putting in a link on mine to here.

I have to agree, the voiceover is more than the moment's world weariness in his captures the noir tradition, hollywood's best efforts at detective noir with voiceovers are passionate pleas to see the compromised desperation in the protagonists' voice.

Very well done friend.
Sandra, go back and revisit. If you're a sci-fi and fantasy fan now, you will delight! It is a feast for the mind and eyes. VR, Harrison's voice-over for sure. Great flick. Now that I've read about it twice, I am jonesing for a fix!
I am so glad that this film got mentioned. I nearly chose it myself. And I agree, the voiceover is essential.
VR -- I wish I had that life changing moment. I'm green with envy. Rated.
Yes, this is a brilliant film in every version, but I remember walking out of the theatre after seeing it the first time and saying to Risa "We need some new visions of the future", it was so flippin' bleak

Yeah, most of Ridley Scott's other pictures have been disappointing, he has a great eye, but not always a great sense of narrative, I thought Black Hawk Down was good though
Both of you are right though. Phenomenal and timeless film.
The forgotten Harrison Ford film way too often and perhaps his best performance.
(rated) yours and Barry's
Favorite film is in the heart of the beholder.
Roy--was that at the initial release?

Because that was the one with the happy ending!

Oh, such haunting dark gorgeousness.
I put up a cross link to this from mine VR. I bow to you, happily.
Good choice. A bleak and haunting vision of the future.
who told you I was a champagne slut?! it's a deal!
Just watched this recently for the first time in years. Definitely a great pick.
yeah, Verbal, it was the first release, I guess you could call that a happy ending, but jeez louise what a future for the rest of us!
Verbal - Got to be honest. I never got this movie and was a big Harrison Ford fan. Must not have been in the right mood or something as your post here, has me making a note to see this one again. Nice call out and enticement to watch with new eyes.
It's a great movie. I love Philip K. Dick, too.
YES! THANK YOU! So happy that somebody else was infuriated that TFC cut out the voiceover. I was appalled. I couldn't even watch the whole thing without it, even knowing basically what he was saying. TFC plus voiceover indeed.
I went to high school with Sean Young so I just can't get over some of the real life images no matter how well they are wrapped in fantasy. Never the less, because YOU love this movie and support it with such well written argument, how could I argue (or not rate) with you?
Oh, 'touche, I wish you'd dish. (I understand she's all sorts of animal crackers, according to pretty much everything I've ever read/heard. But she's really a minor part of the film, all things considered--well, compared with Roy and Deckerd and the whole dynamic around humans and their wayward, rebellious creations.)
Wow. This is going to be a tough week for me w/everyone posting about movies. Too many posts to visit!

I have that original theatrical version, too. ON LASERDISC. (Anyone have a spare Panasonic Laserdisc for sale?) Beautiful movie. Legendary troubled production. Difficult development and financing. Different concepts of the movie being pushed by the lead actor and director. And what a result!

You’re pretty original, Verbal, in lobbying for the voiceover. But it’s a great point. I like the subtlety and artfulness of the last version. But unless someone’s going to watch it more than once – and has more than a passing interest in the art of film – you’re probably right that a first time viewer may enjoy the voiceover version more.

Sounds like you’ve got quite a bit of this film under your belt. Ever read the interview Ridley Scott did w/Wired Magazine just prior to the 2007 Final Cut/25th Anniversary Edition release?

Off to bbd’s post.
I guess I'll have to invite myself into the champagne guzzling club with Sandra and Cathy, I too walked out creeped out. But I have to say you really came close to making me want to see it. Just nooottt without champers.
This was a great movie. Not my absolute favorite but A favorite. And don't forget the very sexy Rutger Hauer! Thanks VR.
(I've got lots of other favorite movies, too. This is one among perhaps among the top 20. I picked one that I thought was worthy of the bloggin'. Much as I love The Princess Bride, I didn't really think I could come up with much to say other than "Funny! Brilliant! Funny! Perfect! Funny!")
Gotta be the VO version. For me, having the narration made the movie sing. Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Harrison Ford - a superb cast.

Thumbed. I'm going to have to watch it again now. :-D
Kalvin! You mind reader.

But, bad little boy...Barry is my good buddy. If I share this plate of warm cookies, will you agree not to be mean to my good buddies in my comment space?
Definitely a favorite flick. But greater still was THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH with David Bowie. The director's cut on that was awesome too. But neither were my final choice for the reasons I give.
No mention of Daryl Hannah's erotic tour de force?
Hush up and eat your cookie.
Not everybody's a psychic Canadian like you.
Gorgeous and life changing!
Warm, ooey-gooey chocolate chip, K.
I have never seen this. Maybe I will, but unicorns scare me. I hope there are no people who dot i's with hearts.
I've got the final cut here waiting to be watched. I favor the voiceover, dislike the extra-gorey penthouse death-of-maker scene, and like the happy ending version. It's a worthy movie. But all the versions really do make it a little weaker just because it's so hard to talk about...
I'm with you - I never got the hate for the voiceover. The fact that Harrison Ford allegedly didn't want to do it just makes it sound that much more world-weary - Deckerd is telling a story he didn't want to have to tell. You're right - it doesn't get more "noir" than that.
You perfectly described my reaction to this movie. It looked great, but I was lost. Like Humpty Dumpty, it seems, they were never able to put this thing together correctly.
The first time I saw "BR", I hated it. The second time I saw it, I loved it. Now, I appreciate it more and more every time I see it. It's a glimpse into the future we kind of deserve - bleak and rainy. I always want to like Ridley Scott's films, especially after this one and "Alien", but the truth is, he mainly makes crap that poses as something other than crap. As for the voice-over, I didn't mind it. Certainly didn't feel the hate that others have. And Ford is just damned perfect in it. Rated for paper chickens.
Remedy. Great post. I've seen the movie several times as well and enjoy it, although not nearly as passionately as you, mostly because it's missing the best part of any adventure movie, horses and cowboys, off on an adventure into the emptiness of wilderness. I would love to find myself riding into the sunset of adventure in a saddle (although I couldn't do it alone. I simply don't do alone very well.)

Rated for adventure
I loved this movie. It is an apparently love it or hate it movie that was very underappreciated when it was first released.

It's been a long time since I've seen it...I need to see again, very soon.
I am so thankful to you for this posting! One of my all-time faves! I'm a huge sci-fi geek and to my mind this film is one of the best. And fairly true to Philip K. Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep".

and I'm totally with you on the voice-over!
Netflix has the voice over version available to watch instantly. It's called the Theatrical and Director's cut.
I guess I am a whole lot older than you because when I saw Blade Runner the first time, I remember talking to my interior design students about it. This was the first movie where the design or special effects was the main story. That's the first time I thought that eventually you might not need a real set or location to make movie (like in 300).

I like this movie and it's a great pick. I am glad you didn't hold back on your post.
I just watched it again on Netflix. I've gotta say, it seems to me the movie ends with Rutger's death scene on the roof, and the Origami guy telling Harrison that Rachel will die. What really struck me as strange was that in the next scene, with Harrison coming out of the elevator with his gun drawn seeing that his apartment door is open, something is wrong about the lighting, or the ambiance. It's like the previous ambiance which filled the entire movie, which elicited the above comment about the future of sets and special effects, was completely missing from the way they set up and shot that scene. As though it was an afterthought, and they brought the actors back and had them do a quick shoot at maybe the producer's behest.
What an awesome choice!

I watched this film with my 17-year-old son recently because his father LOVED it (that and Somewhere in Time...go figure)

It was great fun to watch it with Jordan. I love movies that tweak your mind--and this one surely does.
Yeah--the voice over version.
ABSOLUTELY!!! I have always felt that Scott crumbled to critics by removing the narration. Its inclusion completed the noirish circle that the film obviously drew its water from. I remember seeing this flick when I was sixteen and saying, "This is from a waaaay other place than Wrath of Khan"--which I love, but it was a $12 mil TV episode. Blade Runner had sheer impulses of thought put into it. It remains as unique as it is influential.
Hey Verbal, After I read your post I went over to Netflix, like I said, and watched the version which has at least some of the voice over in it, though I don't know if it's all of it. I was inspired by Rachel, and remembered a character I had from a while back. And last night I thought I'd write a story about her today, which I just did. Would you mind looking at it, and giving me your feelings? I'd appreciate it.
love love love this movie. yes.
Verbal, I'm late to the party as usual. You knocked me back a bit. I've always been something of a you have given me a faction to belong to. The only reason I still own a VCR is to watch my (almost worn out) VHS copy of the original w/voiceover. Bravo. Thank you.
I love it when a film - or book - or poem changes one's life at a young age. Great post.

I have spoken to Harrison Ford a number of times - his voice always sounding so - how did you put it? "Monotonous, world-weary, hard-boiled..." He would politely ask for a landing clearance or a clearance through the airspace while piloting his helicopter, and I, always melting, gave it. On the day he came up to the tower for a visit, I missed him by 2 hours. What a guy - what a film - I agree with you about the V.O. version.

Yes, yes. Let's all cut to the chase: Blade Runner is the greatest film ever made.
I first saw the 'heretical' version when it was released. I believe most people should see the 'flawed' version first... they have few expectations and the bits that bug the real fans usually emerge upon reflection. The VO version may be clunky, but it lays a great framework for future viewings. Maybe it is the 'training wheels' version of the film. I would never throw a newbie into the deep end. Since the film bears repeated views, I like the idea that subsequent viewings can have more to offer than the original cut. Even though the fan can extract nuance from familiar cuts, the later edits hold additional surprises and reframings that give the viewer even more to chew over.
Blade Runner is the box set that prompted me to buy a HD-DVD player, and thanks to the glut of content in that package, has been the biggest reason I still haven't regretted that purchase.
The sound, touch and feel of this movis is brilliant. I have the DVD of the director's cut Now I have a taste for several of those and noodles. (rated for the raccoon eyes that make me look past the danger)
I was kind of surprised that just one person, as I recall, mentioned Dick’s novel. One thing Scott did change (for obvious reasons!) was to have rain rather than dust falling continually. The novel makes more a more general point about the passion for life. Every remaining person keeps a pet animal of some sort, though because of expense almost all are robotic like the movie’s owl.

Re the voiceover, my understanding is that Scott didn’t want it. The studio insisted.

Various cuts change the emphasis on what I think is the most interesting question: Is Deckard an android? Lots of hints. For example, the thug wants his pictures. D has pictures all over his piano. That’s why Gaff’s having left an origami unicorn in the apartment is so important. D told Rachel that he dreamed about a unicorn. How would Gaff know that apart from the way D knew about R’s spider dream?
coming in late but enjoyed this!

what's with people who can't understand movies that aren't completely spelled out?? i hate movies that make everything obvious.

i missed this on the big screen originally but we saw the version (can't recall what they were calling it) released that way in the past year and it was great to see it up on the big screen finally.
I think Silkstone makes a great point. Narratives that are somewhat ambiguous make the stories interactive by requiring the viewer/reader to bring something to it themselves... and like much modern interactive media, the story is slightly different for each viewer. Isn't all good art a collaboration between it's creator and consumer?
I must have been about 20 when I saw Blade Runner for the first time, and too had my whole outlook transformed. As an Industrial Design student I was acutely aware of the masterful set design - conceptualized by Syd Mead - in addition to the haunting storyline and wonderful cinematography. I too really missed the voice over on the subsequent releases and never understood all the objections to this common film-noire device.

I wonder though, if we tend to always prefer the original version of what we've seen, and have trouble adapting to later, changed versions. I suspect those that saw the non-narrated versions first might find the voice-over intrusive. I know I recently saw the new, scenes-added version of Amadeus and much prefer the original version. That also goes for the revised version of Aliens (the second in the series) - the original release was far superior to the longer, additional backstory scenes version.