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.
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.