In 1982, I was serving in the US Air Force in Germany. My parents had come over to Europe on vacation, so I took some leave and joined them for a while. We spent some time in London, and one afternoon I went to see a movie that had recently opened: Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner."
I had been eagerly anticipating the movie based on Scott's direction of "Alien" and Harrison Ford's performances as Han Solo and Indiana Jones.
In London, I had the chance to see a 70mm print of the movie in one of London's larger theaters (I forget now which one). The place was nearly empty, so I had a great seat-- the best seat I think I'd ever had at a movie, since in those days movie theaters in the US weren't putting much effort into patron comfort. I was so impressed with the conditions that I didn't mind standing up for "God Save the Queen."
The movie itself was even more impressive, of course. I think Blade Runner is the best science-fiction movie ever made, and I'd be tempted to say "the best movie" except that comparisons across genres are pretty much useless. Other people have different opinions, and that's fine, but this is the one for me.
Over the years, I acquired multiple copies of Blade Runner in various formats. I bought a LaserDisc player primarily for this one movie, and I remember playing the Criterion Collection and Director's Cut editions multiple times, one after the other, just to study the differences. Once I had a DVD player I bought both editions all over again, not so much because the DVDs looked any better (although they do), but because I just had to have them.
And now, it's time to do it all over again. I just pre-ordered the new release of Blade Runner, the "Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition" in Blu-ray format (from Amazon, here).
This new release has been restored, remastered, and recut by Ridley Scott himself to create a whole new version of the movie. There's also a new documentary, the three most widely seen release versions (the 1982 US release, the 1982 international release, the 1992 Director's Cut), and a fifth complete version, a workprint that was shown to sneak-preview audiences. Also included are some random tchotchkes in what appears to be a replica of the briefcase for a Voight-Kampff machine.
Amazon lists this collection at $69.95 right now. For just $27.95, they'll sell you the five DVDs without the tchotchkes. I have no particular need for the other stuff in the more expensive collection, but I'm buying it anyway. I just have to have it.
The new release won't ship until December 18, and by then, I'll have to get a Blu-ray player (or a combo Blu-ray/HD-DVD player). As I said, it won't be the first time I've bought a video player just for this movie.
And in spite of that "Ultimate Collector's Edition" tag, I think it won't be the last. Remember my blog four days ago about 4K video projection (here)? Well, when Ridley Scott remastered Blade Runner, he did it using 4K equipment. So my guess is that there are 4K masters for some or all of these versions, and in five years or so, I'll be buying a 4K TV, a UV-ray player, and a whole 'nother set of Blade Runner discs. Happily.