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Blade Runner DVD/ A,A-

US/1982/Color/Widescreen Anamorphic 2.35:1/DD,Surround/117 minutes/Directed by Ridley Scott/Starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer/Warner/36 Chaps/$24.95 

     The so-called “Director’s Cut” of Blade Runner is an appropriate choice for the vanguard of DVD releases.  For fans of this stunning film,  seeing Blade Runner in the latest optical format is a great thrill. Blade Runner still defines Scifi noir. Director Ridley Scott combines an excellent story, consummate camera techniques and spectacular production design to deliver a seminal cinema treat that still leaves every similar film after it wanting. 
      Blade Runner’s depiction of a future Los Angeles is dark and exciting, a synthesis of cyber punk, junk and corporate advertising . The vision is  dominated by International business interests, foremost   the Tyrell Corporation, the manufacturer/designer of androids called Replicants. A group of the artificially created intelligent machines escape from an off-planet work colony to seek out their fate on Earth and to come to terms with their maker, Tyrell. Rick Deckard is a blade runner, a detective who specializes in the pursuit of runaway Replicants. Deckard alternates between pursuer and pursued in a series of beautifully filmed chases. Along the way  Deckard becomes involved with an advanced female Replicant model and his own origins are called into question, making the chase a journey of discovery as well. 
       The “Director’s Cut” of Blade Runner does not include the voice-over narration by Harrison Ford’s Deckard. There’s always been great controversy surrounding the classic noir narration. Many critics feel it takes away from the magnificent visual focus of the film and the narration itself is superfluous. Others complain that Ford’s delivery is so devoid of emotion that it appears he was sleepwalking through the dubbing, which was added later. I still think the narration works beautifully and even enhances the noir feeling, but at the same time I can run delightedly with this perhaps leaner vision.  
      Harrison Ford is a great choice for Deckard. Ford is one of our few movie stars who could have shined during the heyday of the Hollywood studio system. He brings that magic to the role of the blade runner. There’s a fatalistic quality to his Deckard, a world weariness and cynicism that captures the character to perfection. Rutger Hauer, as Roy Batty, the Replicant runaways leader, is brilliantly impenetrable and unstoppable, yet, at the crucial moment is pathetically vulnerable. Sean Young is an icy vision of  Replicant perfection as the object of Deckard’s desire. 
       Scott’s superb direction, the intelligent and mysterious script by David Peoples and Hampton Fancher, the photography of Jordan Cronenwelth, Laurence Paul’s set designs, Douglas Trumbull’s special effects, and the other worldly score by Vangelis add up to brilliant entertainment.  
       The Blade Runner DVD is a new software reference for this film. DVD and component output in particular do wonders for the grainy transfer of this atmospheric Ridley Scott vision. Annoying NTSC artifacts are exacerbated by the size of my projection screen(six feet by eleven feet 1.85:1) screen. Since DVD is a component delivery system, moire, a plague of pictures filled with horizontal lines or plaid patterns, is virtually absent. You can compare some scenes in Blade Runner to judge for yourself how revealing your individual system. On chapter 7, Deckard approaches the Tyrell headquarters building in  hover craft. The building is a mass of horizontal detail. On laser, the building is constantly jittering as the comb filter attempts to resolve the separate color and black and white information into one image. The same scene on DVD is rock steady. DVD potentially can deliver more accurate and stable color. Check out the green and red LEDs in the background of Deckard’s vehicle. The clarity and resolve of DVD creates a more three dimensional picture. Look through the gap in the Tyrell building to the faint cityscape behind. DVD adds a new depth to this picture. Of course, these benefits will most certainly be dependent to some degree on the quality of the DVD transfer.  
       Blade Runner still exhibits grain in either DVD or laser  since that is an product of the source material and the artistic vision. The Anamorphic transfer provided for monitors capable of expanding the image is a major plus is delivering excellent detail in this DVD. One caveat: Fail to turn the sharpness control all the way down on this transfer and you will be sorely disappointed. The extra information provided by DVD will translate into extra noise and exaggerated edge enhancement.