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A Few Words About A few words about...™ Blade Runner -- in HD & BD

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Robert Harris, Dec 16, 2007.

  1. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I occasionally feel as though I've fallen through the rabbit hole.

    Several weeks West have kept me from working on line, and with the end of the year approaching, like everyone -- my time is not my own.

    HD and BD titles are hitting us more and more furiously, and the ante is continuously upped with every passing week as far as quality.

    With that out front, my comments in the near future will encompass those releases that stand at the top of the home video heap.

    I first attended a screening Blade Runner at Gomillion Sound on McCadden in Hollywood in the spring of 1982, in 70mm and several weeks before it's release. We had been working there on the 6 track stereo dub for Napoleon.

    It was an extraordinary cinematic experience, and getting to spend a bit of time with filmmaker Scott only added to the aura of the evening.

    Set some forty years into the future in Los Angeles, we find that "future" getting ever closer as the film has morphed it's way through the decades.

    Somewhere between the history of the film and it's many versions as told by Warner Bros. and reality, lies the truth, but the foibles of a motion picture studio and executives through the years isn't the main attraction here. It's what the film has become.

    "When truth becomes legend, print the legend."

    There are many things that can be said of Mr. Scott's Blade Runner, and how it has changed through the years, but the bottom line is that it has not only stood the test of time, but with the aid of Warner Bros. and digital technology, it may now be closer to what the filmmakers intended 25 years ago.

    The new High Definition five disc sets now available allow the varied cuts to be viewed, contrasted and compared till the cows come home, and in the highest possible quality.

    Filled to the brim with extras, the release is probably more than even the greatest Blade Runner fanatic might imagine.

    Done with the greatest of care and quality, this is what high definition is all about.

    As an aside, and not to damage the "legends" of the film in any way, is the reality of where and precisely how the 70mm print of the preview cut was re-discovered.

    It was simply heavy cases in the way that needed to be moved. We needed to get behind whatever it was.

    It was 1989, and with the help of a representative from Todd-AO, who may or may not wish to be identified, the hunt was on for audio elements from Spartacus.

    Archivist Ron Haver offered to give me a day of his time, and the search took us to the back vaults of Todd-AO -- some filled to overflowing with original magnetic materials from some of their finest mixes. The odor of vinegar filled the air.

    Attempting to read labels on some cans at the back of a vault, I began to attempt to move some 70mm cases, noting that they were marked Technicolor - London.

    I use the word "attempt" as I didn't get too far. They didn't move easily.

    Mr. Haver, who virtually moved the cases easily with a fingers of a single hand, got them out of the way. Behind them we found little of interest.

    But the Tech London labels got the better of our archivally inquisitive nature, and popping one open we found what appeared to be a rather ordinary print of Blade Runner.

    The print was reported to WB, and it apparently went directly into print inventory, soon thereafter being booked into (as memory serves) the Fairfax in Hollywood.

    The screening was assumed by all to be a plain vanilla 70mm screening, as no one was aware that the print was special in any way.

    I received a call from someone who attended the screening, informing me that members of the audience "levitated" when they quickly realized that the print was not the norm.

    35mm prints which played shortly thereafter were duped from the 70mm with the appropriate loss in image quality. Not a pretty picture, but it turned out to be profitable.

    After almost two decades, it's quite interesting to see the contents of those cans on an extra disc of the new video release.

    I wish Mr. Haver was among us to enjoy the irony.

    Blade Runner in high definition on both HD and BD?

    Of course, it comes with the highest of ratings, both as films in there varied cuts as well as a meticulously rendered home video product with a myriad of extras.

    Is this the release of the year of a modern classic?

    Seems so. Warner Home Video should be justifiably proud.

    RAH
     
  2. Lee Scoggins

    Lee Scoggins Well-Known Member

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    Wow. That is a insightful and informative post. Thanks Robert. [​IMG]
     
  3. lukejosephchung

    lukejosephchung Well-Known Member

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    Amazing story, Robert...thank you for sharing it with the Forum![​IMG][​IMG]
     
  4. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    Now my decision is whether to spend ~$60 on the DVD version, or bite the bullet and spend the extra $1000 it's gonna cost to get me minimally into the HD realm.
     
  5. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    To Stephen_J_H...

    Think of HD in terms of amortization over a decade. With prices that continue to drop, and deals available at Value Electronics and other retailers, I'd seriously consider the move up if it's financially feasible for you. Once you're running HD and BD, there's no going back.
     
  6. Paul_Scott

    Paul_Scott Well-Known Member

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    I'm guessing Stephen is factoring in the cost of a new display as well. Otherwise I can't imagine why it would cost that much at this point....even buying one of each player would still be several hundred less than that.
     
  7. Stephen_J_H

    Stephen_J_H All Things Film Junkie
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    You are correct, Paul.
     
  8. Robert Harris

    Robert Harris Archivist
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    I should have noted that I've made suggestions to friends who are wavering toward the HD / BD camp that the initial move should be just a player or players, and wire into one's current monitor.

    In that way at least funds are going toward next gen software.

    When funds are available, an HD monitor does the trick, and the software is already in one's collection.
     
  9. PatWahlquist

    PatWahlquist Well-Known Member

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    I'm working on the HD-DVD review now, and I completely agree with Robert's assessment. This is an amazing new transfer, and an amazing set.
     
  10. Mike.B

    Mike.B Well-Known Member

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    What a great post and review, Mr. Harris. Thanks for sharing that story. This is why I visit the Home Theater Forum.
     
  11. Sam Posten

    Sam Posten Moderator
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    On my list!
     
  12. Mark Zimmer

    Mark Zimmer Well-Known Member

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    I'm still working on my review, but the shot early on of the flying car and the animated billboard is just stunning---as good as anything I've seen on HD, and far better than most. Some extraordinary care was taken with this transfer, and it shows.
     
  13. Dan M

    Dan M Well-Known Member

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    I was onboard with HD DVD even while I was still using my Infocus 4805 projector which only does 480p. The HD material looked significantly better over SD anyday. I recommend to anyone no matter what display type to take the plunge whether it be Blu or Red as soon as possible!

    Can't wait to immerse myself in Blade Runner HD when it's released.
     
  14. ErichH

    ErichH Well-Known Member

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    Many thanks Robert - Fun bit of trivia.
     
  15. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Well-Known Member

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    This is the rare instance when the producer of the film (in this instance The Final Cut) is also the producer of the discs. So the home video work had the benefit of being overseen by someone who is not only intimately familiar with every detail of the film and its history but also cares about it as much as any fan could wish for.

    My theatrical viewing of The Final Cut was a high point of my 2007 movie-going. I'm very much looking forward to the hi-def discs.

    M.
     
  16. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Well-Known Member

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    Great to hear. And a fun, interesting trivia bit indeed.

    FWIW, this release is partly what's gotten me to thinking about making some sort of minimal jump into an HD format right now -- I started buying some BD titles just now and will probably get a player some time in 2008 (though my current HD RPTV doesn't do HDMI). I'm not a diehard fan -- though its appeal has steadily grown for me over the years alongside my interest in the cinema and HT in general -- but this release (including how it's being done between SD and HD formats) has become a catalyst for me to finally get off the fence and get my feet wet. Since I don't have a player yet, I'm thinking I'll just rent the SD version for my initial viewing(s) of The Final Cut -- and still have access to the extras on the 2 SD discs that come w/ the HD format releases. I still also have the 1992 Director's Cut in SD, so I can always go back to that in between the rental and a new player purchase. [​IMG]

    _Man_
     
  17. Eric-S

    Eric-S Well-Known Member

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    Mari,
    Just an fyi the 5 disc HD versions (without the briefcase) are available from amazon for about $28, and I think best buy has the exclusive to the 5 disc SD (without briefcase)

    With all the time it would take one to go through all the extras, you may want to consider buying rather than renting Just a suggestion. I can't wait!

    ej
     
  18. TravisR

    TravisR Well-Known Member

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    That was the rumor but it turned out to be false. The only way to get the 5 disc in SD is in the briefcase.
     
  19. Manus

    Manus Well-Known Member

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    Mines in the mail on Hd ; really looking forward to this now . Thanks RH

    ~M~
     
  20. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Well-Known Member

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    Eric,

    I only meant that I'll be renting for the movie itself and will have the 5-disc BD set, which should provide all the extras in SD format (as I understand it). I figured if I bought the 4-disc SD set, I wouldn't get the Work Print version anyway. And like Travis points out, there is no actual 5-disc SD set w/out the gift set -- the BB rumor was just an error in reporting.

    I did consider buying the 2-disc SD version on top of the 5-disc BD set, but I think I can just wait for a player purchase later next year instead after renting it once. [​IMG]

    _Man_
     

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