FILM OF THE WEEK: Blade Runner: The Final Cut
BBC Four, Thursday September 26, 10pm
Last year Ridley Scott made a much-anticipated return to the genre that made his name with Alien prequel Prometheus. Unfortunately, all the praise it received from respected film critics like Roger Ebert and Mark Kermode couldn’t hide the fact that it was a cliché-ridden turkey. It was all terribly disappointing, especially from a man who proved himself a master of science fiction by following Alien with the visionary adaptation of Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? that we all know as Blade Runner.
What many may not know is that Blade Runner has evolved several times since the version released in 1982, complete with Harrison Ford voiceover and test audience-approved happy ending. While the early 1990s Director’s Cut excised both the voiceover and happy ending, the only version that Scott ever had complete artistic control over was 2007’s The Final Cut. Even then, he made only minor changes that, to anyone who saw the previous iteration, are barely noticeable.
So why bother watching, you might ask. Well, the new digital print certainly makes what was already a visual feast even more mouth-watering to behold. But mainly because Blade Runner remains one of the best cinematic meditations on mortality and the fleeting nature of life. Rutger Hauer’s (improvised) “Tears in the rain” soliloquy will forever be one of the best uttered on the finality of death in any work of fiction, be it film, novel or play. Scott recently signaled he has begun work on a sequel that, when held against the perfection of its predecessor, is only destined to pale in comparison.
SET THE RECORDER FOR:
Film4, Friday September 20, 5:25pm
For casual viewers, Richard Attenborough will be best known as the calamitous but cuddly owner of a certain dinosaur DNA-based theme park, or the not so calamitous but still cuddly man who may or may not be Santa Claus in Miracle On 34th Street. If so, they may wish to explore Dicky’s darker side in Brighton Rock, based on Graham Greene’s book about the seaside resort’s criminal underbelly of the 1930s. Attenborough made his name here, scowling and scheming as Pinkie, the gang leader whose cherubic features belie a truly twisted soul.
The Great Escape
Channel 5, Saturday September 21, 5:50pm
Yes, Christmas may be three months away, but is there ever an inappropriate time to watch Dicky Attenborough (yes, twice in two days), Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson et al attempt to confound their Nazi captors with one of the most outrageous prison breaks of World War II? Forget that a brass band version of the classic theme tune bores us to tears every time the England football team crashes out of a tournament (perhaps selected because they always end up getting massacred by the Germans), get your tea ready early and settle in for some superior comfort viewing.
BBC Four, Sunday September 22, 9pm
Citizen Kane is guaranteed to feature in the top ten of every virtually every ‘greatest film ever’ poll from here to eternity. It really is that good. But be honest, how many of you have actually seen it? If not, now is the chance to catch Orson Welles’ masterpiece of American cinema and learn the answer to regular pub quiz question: “In Citizen Kane, to what does ‘Rosebud’ actually refer?”