Don Zerilli Mooradian

Was the Blade Runner One of ‘Them’?

I have seen Blade Runner again, this one being the Director’s Cut, the 1992 slightly altered version of Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic. It was a midnight showing at the local independent theater. I try to see this movie (whichever cut it might be) on the large screen whenever possible.

There are some spoilers in this posting although I can’t imagine anyone reading it would not already have seen the movie and so I really would be spoiling nothing.

To me, the movie’s two most important aspects are the love relationship between Deckard and Rachael, and the conversation at the end of the fight between Deckard and Roy Batty. Both Rachael and Roy are replicants. Deckard, a bounty hunter, has made his living “retiring” replicants, with “retiring” meaning destroying/killing.

BR is based loosely on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Published in 1968 and written by American Philip K. Dick. The book is quite different from the movie and makes a special point to continually keep the reader guessing as to who is real and who (or what) is replicant.

When watching the original movie, I never doubted that Deckard was human. Harrison Ford, who played Deckard, said he discussed whether or not the bounty hunter was a replicant. Director Scott and they agreed the bounty hunter was human. However, years later, Scott said, yes, Deckard is a replicant.

For details on this debate, just google “is deckart a replicant” and you will find arguments on both sides.

I don’t want to go into the “He said. He said.” routine. I just want to say that the movie’s story is much better if Deckard is human and Rachael is android. Likewise, the fight at the end is more poignant if Deckard is human and Roy is android.

For Deckard to be an android, the story would just be two chemical/mechanical entities (Deckard and Rachael) finding love in a wet, lonely world. This essentially is the ending of R.U.R., the sci-fi play written by Czechoslovakian Karel Capek in 1920. (It was the first use of the word “robot” which is Czech for something akin to slave worker. The title R.U.R. is for Rossum’s Universal Robots. Dick’s manufacturer of replicants in Electric Sheep was Rosen Industries. It is Tyrell Corporation in BR.)

Roy (Ruger Hauer) and Deckard (Harrison Ford)

Roy (Ruger Hauer) and Deckard (Harrison Ford)

It would be no big deal for two androids (or robots, if you will) to slug it out at the end of a movie. This happens all the time. What usually makes such fights the least bit interesting, it that one of the androids has some human quality or characteristic that the viewer can emphasize with. This is true of The Terminator on through to the Transformers. Otherwise, it is just two un untethered lawnmowers going at it.

Roy, knowing he was close to death, made a kind of game of the last fight, apparently confident that Deckard would not be able to defeat him. This gives Roy a certain amount of humanity that is punctuated by his rescue of Deckard. Also, the asymmetrical combat abilities of the two would indicate that if Deckard was an android, he was a very old, practically obsolete model. Why would the cops want to use such a outmoded “skin job” against the most advanced androids?

The same logic holds for Deckard and Rachael. For instance, love stories between two people from different cultures or even two warring families of the same culture are typically more rewarding because of the obstacles that must be overcome. Of course we have seen passion between two humans in movies. However, I think we would be hard-pressed to be interested in a love story between two androids unless there was something akin human emotion in at least one of them for us to relate to.

Deckard (Harrison Ford) and Rachael (Sean Young)

Deckard (Harrison Ford) and Rachael (Sean Young)

Deckard shows passion and true “desire” for Rachael who, also, responds in kind with a line or two indicating to Deckard what she wants.

Roy also so something close to love and heartbreak at the demise of Pris. Granted, all the emotions including both love and its physical twin lust along a fondness for cigarettes and alcohol could be programmed into an android. But what drama—or even fun—does that offer?

The drama comes from the hubris of the maker changing to fear upon learning its creation wants to destroy the creator. Or falling in love with something so alien as to defy credibility and yet, love and lust are there and believable. These are the conflicts that brought Greek gods down from Olympus to pursue humans. These are the sagas that divine invincibility against human frailty and courage.

Assuming That Harrison Ford was not directed to play Deckard as an android or a confused android or whatever, makes me think that Ridley Scott has just decided to add to the mystique of the movie by saying, ex post facto, that Deckard is really an android.

But I don’t believe him. Even if I did, I would ignore it anyway.

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