Blade Runner Blow-out (Part 2 of 3)

I know I promised to continue this discussion a week ago, but I have decided to do one entry a week.

Last week, I started discussing themes in the movie Blade Runner. I made the argument that based on those themes, Rick Deckard could not possibly be a Replicant, regardless of which version of the film you see.

In recap, I raised the point that Deckard’s lack of “humanity” in the Director’s Cut and Final Cut actually support the idea that he might be human since the Replicants are more in touch with their humanity and emotions. I also mentioned the common theme in Ridley Scott’s films that all servants want to kill their master… and since Deckard may not have that impulse, or shows open resentment of it (his “recruitment” scene by Bryant is a good example) he must be human.

Problem is that Ridley Scott has said many times that Deckard IS a Replicant, and this is supported by several scenes and themes within the movie.

Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way: the idea that “if Unicorns are real, we’d all be Replicants“…

In all four release versions of Blade Runner, Deckard interrogates the character Rachel, whom he correctly deduces is a different type of Replicant who has memory implants. When he questions her creator, Tyrell… he says that these implants create a “cushion” for a Replicant’s emotional instability… He shows Deckard her file, and later in the film, Deckard recalls several of Rachel’s “memories” that she never told anyone about.

In the Director’s Cut and Final Cut, Deckard undergoes a similar character arc… About half-way through the film, Deckard falls asleep at his piano and dreams of a Unicorn running through the woods… At the end of the film, he discovers that fellow cop, Gaff had broken into his apartment and left a calling card: an origami Unicorn… Deckard picks it up, turns it over in his hand, closes his fist around it, looks directly at the audience (breaking the fourth wall), and nods his head as if to say: I get it… I understand the meaning of this…

Gaff saw Deckard’s file before their first encounter at the food truck… He knew Deckard’s dreams and thoughts… There is only one way that is possible: Deckard was programmed, and can’t be human…

There is another theme in Ridley Scott’s films that also supports the idea that Deckard is a Replicant regardless of which version of the film you watch — WARNING: THIS NEXT SECTION CONTAINS DISTURBING CONTENT

Rape is a common theme in Ridley Scott’s films… It is a theme he has visited in Thelma and Louise, G.I. Jane, Hannibal, Alien, and Prometheus (the impregnation of the Engineer at the end of the film evokes the violent sexual imagery of the first film in the franchise, more on that below…).

Before I begin discussing this theme in the film, let me be clear: I am strongly morally opposed to it and find it disturbing, but I accept that it is part of the director’s style, and in this case, it is relevant to a discussion of Deckard’s humanity or lack-there-of in Blade Runner…

Changing films for a moment, Ridley Scott has stated several times that Alien is meant to disturb the audience by evoking disturbing imagery about rape: a creature that assaults a man, and impregnates him through what the director openly describes as “violent…oral rape”… But there is also a scene in which Ash violently attacks Ripley, then forces a dirty magazine down her throat… further evoking the imagery of oral rape… Later in the scene, Ripley is rescued when another character tears Ash’s head off, revealing him to be a robot…

In the commentary track for this scene, Ridley Scott says that he was fascinated with the question of whether robots could have sexual urges… And this theme carried over Blade Runner…

There is a disturbing scene in all four release versions of Blade Runner in which Deckard violently rapes Rachel. The idea behind this scene is that since Deckard is a Replicant he is emotionally immature, and does not know how to show his “love” for her other than through violence… Harrison Ford is downright TERRIFYING in this scene!!!

Ironically, Harrison Ford has played three of the most important heroes in Film History in Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and Jack Ryan, among the many other iconic heroes (President Marshall in Air Force One)… For that reason, a modern audience finds the rape scene in Blade Runner even more disturbing since it is so out of character for Ford as an actor. I think that only helps to unsettle the audience, and lends credence to the fact that (regardless of which version of the film you watch) Deckard is a Replicant.

Ironically, it is Ridley Scott’s intention to unsettle the audience with these themes, and I am getting unsettled examining them… So I will end the discussion for tonight here…

Next week, I will examine the look of the film: including the Retro-future, the importance of the appearance of photographs throughout the film, and Ridley’s obsession with eyes…

I leave you with a question: how many readers will dream of Unicorns tonight?

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