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Disc 5 – Work Print Version (Hurrah!)

1 hour, 45 mins

Looking back to the legendary "Workprint" and an in depth documentary on the Making of the Final Cut

And so we face the final curtain. Ironic as it was the first ever version of Blade Runner tested in front of a sneak peek audience. It was this print that surfaced inexplicably and ran for a few weeks in the Castro Theatre in San Francisco in 1990. It's the buzz about this two week sell out showing that's kept Blade Runner bustling in my subconscious. Editor Terry Rawlings even temped with Jerry Goldsmith's Planet of the Apes score, so it was something I was keen to see. Scott disowned it (as it was rough and had a temp score) as a Director's Cut and hastily had people make the three rough and sweeping changes to make his so-called Director's Cut in 1992.

In short, The Workprint is exactly what it didn't say on the tin 17 years ago in San Francisco. It is "a work in progress." It's the same movie of course. I will not detail the differences in this cut as part of the fun in viewing it is seeing where and imagining why these different decisions were made. I still love Rawlings' comment on the documentary. He and Scott assembled and viewed the film for the first time and apparently Scott said "It's brilliant but what does it all mean?" That is such a giveaway and a perfect response from a man who was making art and how that art was digging its claws into him.

It is impossible for me to judge the Workprint as a movie in its own right as it will be the 36th time I've seen the film. Let's just say the pleasure is in the box set allowing you the rare opportunity to see a work of cinematic art grow, change and become the best it can be. Yes, the theatrical version as first seen will be the Blade Runner that stays in my mind and seared on my memory but I cannot contain my joy at this definitive box set.

All Our Variant Futures (28:32)
Again, a superb – but shorter this time – documentary on the effort and lengths gone to, to make Scott's mistake-strewn masterpiece, almost perfect. It's a real thrill seeing Joanna Cassidy back in Blade Runner country. And also it's very satisfying to see how the biggest 'mistakes' were corrected via cunning and flawless CG and Harrison Ford's son's lower jaw! Oh, just watch it with glee!

special features (of disc 5)

1. Introduction by Ridley Scott (0:47)

2. Commentary: Writer, Paul Sammon, Blade Runner's unofficial biographer.

OK, one gets a sense of performance nervousness. He calms down a little as he goes on. This is perhaps the pinnacle of his championing of and involvement with the movie and this is his chance to shine. Go, Paul! And if I am gently critical it's not because he never replied to a letter I wrote to him.

His delivery is quite fast and clipped. He has a lot to say about the changes and Sammon says that he prefers the Workprint presentation (chinagraph pencil marks and tape edits visible) because "It just seemed to fit the story." This sounds a little odd unless he's been exposed to 'mistakes' as fashion that so many film-makers think is cool these days. David Fincher gets away with it (see the opening of Se7en) but IMHO practically no one else does. He also says that a shot was in the Workprint that, and I quote: "In all other versions, that shot is not in..." I may be being pedantic here but what he means is that the shot is in but the length of it is shortened in all other versions. As soon as Holden's head hits the desk, we cut to the cityscape and smoking billboard. In the Workprint, the shot lasts longer of Holden slumped on the keyboard. He also describes Gaff's origami as an ironic comment (in Bryant's office) towards Deckard. It's a chicken. He's calling him chicken. Where's the irony?

It's almost as if Sammon was told, whatever happens, don't stop talking! To be fair to the man, he's a mine of information (he was there at the shoot, remember) and now, as my friend put it, he has to move on now!

The Mystery of the Girl in the Bath Tub

Movies that are revered and pored over inevitably produce more questions than movies that are quickly shrugged out of your brain. Pore over Patch Adams and the same sort of questions will arise, like "Why wasn't the screenplay burned after getting to page seven?" Minutiae exists to be pondered but Blade Runner is so dense, its imponderables are even more fascinating (to ponder).

Ironically, the answer to a question I really wanted, Sammon didn't mention in his commentary. So I will add my small, lone voice to the plethora of enigmatic trivia that is my ongoing appreciation of Blade Runner. As Deckard is resetting his broken fingers sitting on the bath tub, there is (in an out-take) a dead girl lying in the bath behind him. Now I suspect the out-take wasn't used because one's first response is not to empathise with Deckard but ask yourself – in the middle of the climax – "What the feck is that girl doing there?" Now, I cannot see the scene now without seeing the head and feet of the corpse sticking out of the side of frame and it's just occurred to me that it may have been digitally removed in the Final Cut. Wait, let me check...

No, there's the head briefly glimpsed and there's her feet as Deckard gets off the bath tub. It's the only "Say, what?" moment in the entire film that no one has mentioned – and that gives me a smug glow that I finally found something about this wonderful film that no one else has noticed. As good a place for this rambling review to end, I think. Oh, just buy it!

sound and vision

The Workprint has been tidied up (much to Sammon's disappointment I must assume). The grading is very different to all other versions but it is remarkably clean given it has done the rounds (of course I'm not naïve enough to believe there was only one workprint struck off a cut inter-negative for the preview screenings). The sound has also been tarted up but it's a faithful rendition of the first Blade Runner there ever was...

languages and subtitles

English Dolby Digital 2.0 with sub-titles in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Polish and Swedish.

box set – other physical features

Someone on the internet posted that there'd be a Spinner model in the tin and even a tin foil unicorn. Alas, a Region 1 touch. But what there is in the Region 2 box, is still mightily impressive.

  • Blade Runner Briefcase packaging (hinged tin)

  • Digi-Package with Foil Enhanced and Embossed Slipcase (5 Discs)

  • Lenticular motion image from the original feature

No, I don't know what 'Lenticular' means either. It's a plastic frame featuring 6 frames of Deckard arriving at his apartment looking for Rachael at the end of the film. It's pretty cool.

  • Collection of Artwork 6" x 4" photographic sketches (x 8)

Contained in a black envelope with artwork inside the envelope (that's attention to detail).

  • Letter from Ridley Scott.

This is a transparent A3 size note from the director with a little 'xRidleygramme' (a self-penned sketch in the corner). Neat.

  • Glossy Booklet covering the entire package.

For Blade Runner fans, obsessives and completists, this is it. This is the big one. I have waited for this box set for a great deal of time and it was worth the wait because people who love it too have worked on it. The restoration and content are almost entirely credited to producer and rabid fan Charles de Lauzirika. Give that man an original Tyrell Corporation Model for his trouble. Bravo (and phew!) Now to re-visit the top of the Police Building inside Spielberg's mothership…

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Blade Runner
The Work Print

USA 1982
105 mins

DVD details
region 2 UK
2.40:1 anamorphic
Dolby stereo 2.0
All Our Variant Futures documentary
Paul Sammon commentary

Related review
Blade Runner: The Director's Cut