The 25th anniversary version of Blade Runner comes to Baltimore's Senator Theatre next Friday. Tagged as The Final Cut, this is supposed to be the absolutely, positively, this-time-we-really-mean-it, definitive version of Ridley Scott's 1982 film.
Let's hope so.
Nothing against Blade Runner, which is a fascinating film, the happy result of a visionary director (Scott) being let loose on the work of a startlingly hallucinatory writer (Philip K. Dick, who wrote the source material, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?). But do we really need another version of the film?
This marks at least the third version to make it into theaters, and it appears to be the seventh version made available to audiences (including a version censored for broadcast television).
True, it's nice that Scott's pure vision for the film will finally be realized (at least, one assumes this Final Cut reflects everything he ever hoped the film would be). But tinkering with a film after its initial release is not always a good thing. For every movie like James Cameron's The Abyss, which was really much better after scenes cut from the theatrical version were put back in, there are two like Cameron's Aliens, which in its expanded version just feels longer and slower. (Let's not even talk about Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now or William Friedkin's The Exorcist, which were done no favors by the theatrical releases of their director's cuts.)
I'm all for bringing back classic, visionary films to play at theaters like the Senator. But do they have to be recut to make that possible?