This dog was made for walking, and that’s just what he’ll do…
A belated delivery from Amazon (stock issues or something), Indicator’s Blu-ray disc of Costa-Gavras’ 1982 drama Missing finally escaped the curse of its title and landed on my doorstep. Graced with a typically fine central performance by Jack Lemmon and a subtle (and typically unreleased) soundtrack by Vangelis at the height of his powers, this is an intelligent film and one I’m keen to re-watch having not seen it in many years. Time is tight of late though, so I contented myself with a glimpse of the extras and a short listen to a pseudo-commentary track that is an archival audio recording of a ‘Guardian Interview with Jack Lemmon’ from 1986, which runs 116 minutes that plays under the film. Five minutes I thought… then fifteeen, only when I reached thirty minutes did I finally give in and regretfully press the ‘stop’ button. Lemmon is a brilliant conversationalist with great stories to tell and the interview was pretty engrossing. I think a similar interview, dating to 1973, accompanies Indicator’s The China Syndrome disc which sits on a shelf. Am I wrong for looking forward to listening to those audio tracks as much as actually seeing the films?
Since I was posting those paintings earlier, lets complete this mini-topic with images of the CGI Rachael created for BR2049. I’m sure this creation was no small part of the film being awarded its Oscar for visual effects. While not completely flawless, its success seems largely subjective- individual suspension of disbelief is largely dependent on personal taste, and I admit being utterly entranced when I first saw BR2049 last October. I believe I groaned and my jaw dropped, as I was totally ‘into’ the film at that point. I still buy into it whenever I watch the film, even in less-forgiving 4K, which tells me that its not just what you do effects-wise, but how its applied and how it is supported by the rest of the film. If you are ‘into’ a film, you’ll forgive and accept anything, really, whether it be dodgy matte-lines/bluescreen or wholly cgi characters. Film is all make believe, ultimately.
Here’s another painting, most likely from the same photographic source that the painting I posted yesterday was based upon (which for reference, I include below). This artwork has a more traditional approach but is none the worse for that- superb likeness again. There’s some really lovely Blade Runner-inspired artwork online. I used to draw and paint Blade Runner stuff years ago in my youth, but it was never as good as much of this stuff, although in my defense, back in 1982/1983, good reference material was exceedingly hard to come by.
Interesting image this, of Sean Young’s Rachael from Blade Runner. Beautifully drawn, I like the fragmentation which the artist has given it- adds a nice touch and gives it a feeling seperate from the usual Noir feel that such ‘art inspired by Blade Runner’ usually seems to have. In any case, its another reminder just how iconic the ‘look’ of this character remains so many years later.
This is not a dream… not a dream. We are using your brain’s electrical system as a receiver. We are unable to transmit through conscious neural interference. You are receiving this broadcast as a dream. We are transmitting from the year one, nine, nine, nine. You are receiving this broadcast in order to alter the events you are seeing…
So you wait for what seems like years but might be even longer for a UK Blu-ray release of Prince of Darkness... and then out of the blue it transpires that such a release is indeed coming but also on 4K UHD, which is even better news for someone who’s stepped up to the format.
Suppose what your faith has said is essentially correct. Suppose there is a universal mind controlling everything, a god willing the behavior of every subatomic particle. Well, every particle has an anti-particle, its mirror image, its negative side. Maybe this universal mind resides in the mirror image instead of in our universe as we wanted to believe. Maybe he’s anti-god, bringing darkness instead of light.
But possibly because of interference from the Prince of Darkness Himself, while three Carpenter films are released as boxsets and widely available for preorder, this particular film, by virtue, it seems, of rights issues with the soundtrack album, is released seperate from the others as a steelbook, and it then transpires that said steelbook, by the intervention of the Prince of Darkness’ Arch-Demon, Zavvi, is quite likely not only a limited edition but also a retailer exclusive.
The outside world doesn’t want to hear this kind of bullshit. Just keep it locked away. You’ve already managed that for two thousand years.
Its really not fair.
Hello… Hello… I’ve got a message for you… and you’re not going to like it.
I mean really, its like some John Carpenter Meta-Reality is going on or something.
The hardest thing to hear… for any of us… is something we don’t agree with.
Autumn. Its the perfect time of year to watch Blade Runner. Summer? Horrible. All that sun and heat, its just the wrong time to sink into the rain-soaked neon of LA2019.
Which is my way of excusing the long delay from buying my 4K set-up (and my Blade Runner 4K edition) and actually sitting down to watch it. Anyway, I’m right of course- if only the studio execs who mistakenly thought Blade Runner was a summer blockbuster back in 1982 had thought to actually watch the film and realise it was not a summer movie, the film might have gotten a bigger audience with a release put back to the Fall of 1982. Might have given Ridley a bit more time to get the edit right too, and saved us decades of tinkering (even though the tech of 2007 ensured we got a better film in the long run).
So anyway. I watched the disc last night with the lights down and the cool damp Autumn night gathering outside the window. How was it? Well, rest assured, Blade Runner has never looked better.
The subtlety is the thing that struck me. Sure, the film is sharper, details more pronounced, and most of the visual effects actually more convincing than ever. I wouldn’t have thought that last bit was even possible, but it is, which only increases my admiration for the effects guys behind the film and their achievement. The shot of the blimp hovering over the Bradbury roof as Deckard looks up, the lights piercing through the metal frames of the skylights, is really suddenly quite extraordinary and an utterly perfect effects shot. This is partly enabled by the HDR, which adds depth to the visual field, making lights and the neon signage really ‘pop’ (the opening with Deckard sitting reading his paper with the screens behind him really does startle).
But the real improvement, as I’ve noted, is the subtlety. Thanks partly to that HDR but more due to the WCG, the film has an added beauty from the play of light, the added colour range and gradient of tone. Every shot of Blade Runner looked like a painting on DVD and Blu-ray, but now we just see more of that painting. And, naturally, yes, we do see more details, in clothing fabrics and props and decor. The craft this film demonstrates is just breathtaking, even for a seasoned fan like myself. At one point I just had to stop looking and just enjoy the movie for what it is, and leave some of that detail-noting and visual exploration for subsequent viewing.
Some of the visuals won’t please everybody. There is a lot of grain, which is mostly down to the nature of the photography, but also the film-stock used too. Some shots are indeed problematic. Deckard’s reverie of the unicorn in the woods is pretty ugly, some of the grain buzzing like static, and his examination on the Esper machine has a few moments with issues. But any fan of the film from the VHS days will be used to stuff like that and on the whole it is what the film is. Any noise from grain is countered by the terrific gains in detail and depth from the wide colour field.
So away from the 4K bells and whistles, a note about the film itself. This is, afterall, the first time i have watched the whole film since the release of BR2049 and I have to say its an interesting experience. Knowing what lay ahead for Rachel and Deckard can’t help but inform the experience of the film, and really does make Rachel a more tragic character. Knowing that Tyrell has tinkered with her to perfect the final Frankenstein-like goal of authentic biological reproduction makes him all the more of a monster (who ironically never learns of his final success). And of course, Batty’s death and his very human act of saving Deckard mirrors the actions of Officer K in the sequel. Deckard is saved in both films and both experiences seem to transform him.
How exciting, then, that after all these many years, Blade Runner both looks better than ever and benefits by being informed by its miraculously faithful sequel. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have thought any of this would be possible, but here it is, and so close to the ‘real’ 2019 too.
I can only add that I really cannot wait to rewatch this film again- nothing new there really, as I’ve always loved it, but still, its pretty exciting.
And yes, it is definitely an Autumn film. No way is this a film for the summer.