Ridley Scott himself has put an ‘end’ to one of the most infamous nerd arguments of all time – is C3PO gay? Ha, ha, ha! No, I’m just kidding. In fact, I recall seeing and immediately favoriting a YouTube.com video of Ridley Scott saying ostensibly “Yes, Deckard is a Replicant.” How many versions of Blade Runner exist that can attest to the idea that on this one insignificant point, director Scott could not make up his mind, wavering back and forth? Many.
I myself have only seen the Director’s Cut, but am looking forward to the Theatrical Cut, especially for when Ford’s narration obliterates the drama of the final scene – one the best moments in SF movie history.
Of course, to do what many, many others have already done – put in my two sense about the matter – I should probably have seen all of them. However, I honestly don’t want to get mixed up, not just yet. I want that one essential vision, the one that from what I understand reading a few books on the movie, represents the best of the collective interests of all the crew, not just Scott.
The director of course gets the final final say. That is, after Blade Runner made its money (lol) during its initial run, the studios were like “yeah sure” twenty years later when Scott was like, “let’s change this.” So Ridley Scott picks apart his masterpiece and makes Harrison Ford’s character what he cannot be, a robot.
The question was initially raised among nerds when Rick Deckard, Ford’s character, has a dream about a unicorn – you read that right – and Edward James Olmos later on makes a unicorn origami. The thing is, the character Rachel is introduced to the universe as an experiment – she’s a replicant with implanted memories, and doesn’t know she’s a replicant. But Deckard knows it, and knows all her memories, even the deepest ones. So if Olmos, a fellow Blade Runner, knows that Deckard dreamt of unicorns – why not electric sheep? – he’s a replicant with implanted memories. He has to be.
I liken this to those ‘theories’ about Inception I hear about, only indirectly. Apparently somebody thinks that Leonardo is being incepted at the whole time by Michael Caine and Juno to make him let go of Leonardo’s wife, and the evidence is there, man. Yes, the evidence for that is there, and that argument can be made and supported. But was that the director’s intention? I haven’t heard it from Nolan’s mouth, but I can say beyond a doubt, “no.”
All the elements that make up the evidence found in paragraph 6 are more important than the fans let on. In Inception, the point of the movie wasn’t Leo getting incepted at, it was ‘cool heist story.’ Blade Runner is a bit deeper than Inception, and the whole point, as PKD put forth in the original source text, is dehumanization. I read that the inspiration for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? was Nazi stuff that Phillip K. Dick was studying. He was fascinated by the utter inhumanity on visceral display during these times, and decided to study that further in the book.
What if we were put on the level of things that aren’t human? But wait, what is human? Could you kill something that isn’t human, but looks, sounds, acts, and thinks human? In the end, perhaps you could become one? Yes, Deckard does become a replicant by the end of Blade Runner. But not in the way that Scott thinks, it’s in the way that Phillip K. Dick thinks. You take the idea of the Replicant and break it down to its constituent parts: genetically engineered artificial person – devoid of ‘humanity.’
Deckard has killed four of these, after retirement. Zhora and Pris’s deaths are heavily dramatized (that’s not the right word, is it) and frankly pretty disturbing. When Deckard is looking down at the retired Zhora in the shattered glass of the shop front window, he’s seeing a dead woman with two gaping bullet holes in her back – she died running for her life. Does it matter whether she was robot or human technically?
As he continues his journey, the movie continues to hint that Deckard is maybe a replicant, culminating in the movie’s final moments, where he discovers the unicorn origami. But if this means that Deckard is a replicant the whole time? What’s the point? That was ultimately the greatest argument put forth against Scott’s cause that I heard. What’s the damn point?
Let’s humor this for a second. Deckard is a replicant. He’s a replicant who was told to kill some replicants, and he’s been given fake memories of history of killing replicants. That’s cold, and could make a cool side-story, maybe a Blade Runner Gaiden or something, where a robot is programmed to kill other robots. Whatever, we got Soldier, which I enjoyed.
So we got it, he’s a robot. But when he sits down at the end with Roy Batty and the villain – the vicious replicant – is contemplatively looking back, and doing something almost more human than human in its humanness: accepting death… What does that mean? That scene was made very thoughtful and dramatic for a reason. The first time I saw this movie, I didn’t like it, but that scene certainly stuck out to me. I loved it. I thought it was so cool how this character went from level-headed leader to psycho to human like that [snaps fingers].
The character of Roy Batty is at the core of the movie, and if Deckard is a replicant, he defies what that character means, and ultimately, what the writers and even the director took from the source material to make: one of the greatest, most thoughtful science-fiction films of all time. Is that what Scott wants? Of course not. But then again, nowadays the poor guy is making inexplicable crap like Body of Lies and Black Hawk Down – seemingly gone are the days of Alien, Gladiator.
I like Ridley Scott, though he is kind of hit or miss. But Blade Runner is a work of genius. The problem is, it’s the work of too many geniuses, all vying for control of the creative aspects of it. Now, I’m all for people fighting for what they believe in in a movie’s story – that’s pretty cool. But it’s really too bad if they’re doing it to inadvertently subvert the entire ideal behind it.
(Watch the final say here)
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