Linux, musical road-dogging, and daily life by Paul W. Frields
All hail the king.

All hail the king.

What’s with the aristocratic bent of recent titles here? There may be something subconscious going on there that will make sense to me later, but I’m afraid to look too deeply into it right now.

This post is about a film that changed my life when I saw it. I didn’t get a chance to see it until I was in college, because I wasn’t allowed to see R-rated films until I was practically out of high school. The main floor of Clemons, the undergrad (read: more pedestrian) library, was peppered with cubicles, each with — wonders and miracles! — laserdisc players. I’d never even touched one, but I knew cinephiles treasured them. My parents had only a standard VCR of the VHS variety.

Most importantly, they had a wide variety of both classic and contemporary films, including some of the Criterion editions of truly great films. And among those was a prophetic, visually astounding, mind-bending film called Blade Runner. Audacious to an extreme, almost ludicrous level, it turned everyting I thought I knew about the tired science fiction film genre on its head. Everything from the color palettes to the lighting and set design, to the incredible visual effects, to the intelligent script full of its throwbacks to film noir, was breathtaking.

Years later, we’ve been treated to the far superior Director’s Cut version, which, among other fixes, removes the annoying monologue and pathetically tacked-on happy ending — two of the features I didn’t hate when I first saw the film but which I now find grating. Last week saw the release of the Final Cut, which tweaks some timing and other details in the way that director Ridley Scott revisited his equally superb film Alien a few years ago. And in a word, assuming capital letters and italics don’t undermine the meaning of that word, it is SUBLIME.

The themes of the movie I need not repeat, and in any case they don’t fully reveal themselves until you’ve seen the film several times. Each new viewing is rewarding in its own way, and every shot is a work of genius, from the opening shots of the hellish metropolis of future Los Angeles, to Deckard silhouetted in the apartment bathroom, to the overhead blimp shot through the roof of Sebastian’s gutted apartment building, to water running down moisture-swollen walls as Deckard’s gun creeps slowly and shakily forward during his final confrontation with Roy. All of these joys are multiplied a hundredfold with the newly 4K-scanned, remastered print and its crystalline 5.1 sound.

All the new DVDs feature the astonishingly good making-of documentary, Dangerous Days, which at three and a half hours is almost twice as long as the feature film and itself very much worth watching more than once. And if you have an awesome spouse as I do (or facsimile thereof), you might even find yourself in possession of the superb five-disc edition, which comes with goofy packaging but also includes every known version of the film, including the 1982 original US release, the 1982 international release, the 1992 Director’s Cut, the new Final Cut, and the highly prized and rarely seen workprint that stirred the film’s resurgence as a cinematic masterpiece.

If you love film, this is a must-own. Probably worth mentioning that the film is pretty damn entertaining, too.