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Blade Runner

             One of the benefits of home video is that it sometimes allows the director to have the last word - if not sooner, then later. Ever since Stephen Spielberg released the "Special Edition" of his "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," directors have been re-editing their movies and releasing versions that are longer, or sexier, or more profound, or in any event different from the versions that were originally released to theaters. Sometimes the changes are minor - a few more nude scenes, or longer dialogue. Sometimes they are substantial, as in the new director's version of Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner- (1982), which is on home video. Scott has abandoned the Harrison Ford narration of the original version, added some moments to the love affair between Ford and Sean Young, fleshed out a few other scenes and, most notably, provided what he describes as a "somewhat bleaker ending." This is, he says, the version he would have released in 1982 if he could have. The Ford narration was added because the studio feared audiences would not understand his story of a futuristic Los Angeles. "Blade Runner- is a brilliant analysis of the earth, human kind, its development and evolution.
             The film is set in the industrial wasteland of Los Angeles in the year 2019, on an Earth that is in physical and psychological decay - without a trace of nature. Human settlement has expanded far beyond Earth, engaged in the eternal quest for new frontiers. Those left behind are too old, infirm, poor or stubborn to escape for the off-world colonies; they're stuck with the dregs of civilization, as represented by a gloomy, rain-sodden Los Angeles. The only flies in the ointment are artificial humans, colloquially known as replicants, deployed in the most hazardous of environments, serving man in warfare and the colonization of other planets. In their latest incarnation, Nexus 6, these replicants have surpassed their makers, marking a moment of transition and creating a dangerous situation.

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