Okay, now he's not a replicant.
September 28, 2000 8:22 AM   Subscribe

Okay, now he's not a replicant. Contrary to what Ridley Scott said, Harrison Ford claims Deckard was not a replicant. Where's Phillip K. Dick when you need him? Oh, right...
posted by Aaaugh! (16 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Couldn't we just live happily with the notion that there is no definitive answer? I enjoy ambiguity in movies; it allows for personal interpretation, and then fun debates about those interpretations. Movies with cut and dry endings are so... forgettable.

For good examples of ambiguous endings, see Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and, if I remember correctly, Total Recall, another P.K. Dick story.
posted by sandor at 8:43 AM on September 28, 2000

The ending to P.K. Dick's "We Can Remember it for you Wholesale" (from which Total Recall eventually grew) was pretty unambiguous, actually -- the film really added a lot.

As for BR, how could Ford provide the definitive answer on this? Was he expecting Ridley Scott to say, "Harrison, your character is a replicant who doesn't know he's a replicant, so pretend we didn't have this conversation"?
posted by tingley at 8:56 AM on September 28, 2000

What difference does it make if Deckard is a replicant-who-doesn't-know-he's-a-replicant if we don't know he's a replicant-who-doesn't-know-he's-a-replicant? There's nothing in the film that suggests or supports that assertion, so from a character or plot development standpoint, the point is moot (or, it's just bad character or plot development, I suppose). If an artist has to tell you verbally what he intended, he simply hasn't done his job, now has he?
posted by m.polo at 9:42 AM on September 28, 2000

We decide what "reality" is, is the point. For the best (IMHO) example of this phildickian POV on film, see Cronenberg's eXistenZ.
posted by aflakete at 11:02 AM on September 28, 2000

eXistenZ was just plain strange. Good film, but man, Cronenberg's always been as creepy as Barker.
posted by Cavatica at 12:58 PM on September 28, 2000

Actually, there are a couple of visual clues built into the movie which suggest the theory. There is a replicant owl in the office, and its eyes glow red. On a couple of other occasions, other replicants also have their eyes glow red. And on one occasion, Deckard's eyes glow red. No confirmed human ever has that happen in the film.

Now there's another which was in the shooting script but was removed. Remember the foil unicorn on the floor at the end?

Originally there was supposed to be a dream sequence where Deckard dreamed about a unicorn. How would the other guy know about it if it weren't an implanted memory? In the actual film, the only interpretation of the unicorn is "He was here, he could have killed her, he didn't do so." But with this addition, it makes the significance of it as a unicorn more important.

The final voice over: "Of course you know she won't live. But then, who does?" was supposed to have the ironic reference to Deckard himself, and the possibility that his own life was very limited. After all, if he was a replicant, we don't know when he was created and when his 4 year clock started. His memories would, necessarily, have extended before that. For all we know, he was created two days before the encounter at the noodle stand, with his memories copied from a real Deckard who wasn't available or that they didn't want to risk.

There was a company which used to exist (I don't remember the name and I don't know their current fate) but they were in the business of bringing out particularly high quality laserdisks, which often used the second audio track to carry a commerntary (which they did for their version of King Kong) and which often carried a lot of additional material. They released a copy of Bladerunner. And in addition to the full movie, it had bunch of production drawings, and a lot of other cool stuff -- and it had a section written by a major fan of the movie which listed all the evidence hidden in the film that Deckard was actually a replicant.

But I agree: I like the idea that it's ambiguous, just as I like the fact that the end of Total Recall is ambiguous.

And I don't see how Ford's opinion on the subject is particularly relevant.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 3:35 PM on September 28, 2000

Firstly i'd like to say that Blade Runner is one of my all time favourite movies. But is everyone forgetting that Deckard was a wimp compared to the replicants which would indicate that he wasn't.
posted by Zool at 4:04 PM on September 28, 2000

Steven, clearly you haven't seen the Director's Cut, which a) eliminates the narration, b) excises the "happy ending" escape in the final shots, and c) adds a few of those clues such as a shot of the unicorn, and I won't tell you what's special about that shot.

I never hated the narration as much as others have, but it's superfluous. The more ambiguous ending is more in keeping with the tone of the film. But I wasn't at all happy with Scott's proclaimed intent to remove any doubt that Deckard was a replicant. It just didn't make story sense; hearing this significantly diminished my respect for Scott as a storyteller.

I want Deckard to be human, because Deckard wants to be human. Whether or not he is truly, in story terms, artificial is irrelevant to this question.
posted by dhartung at 5:44 PM on September 28, 2000

Zool, replicants came in several levels of capability, with two ratings: mental and physical. All of the escapees were phycially "A", the highest level, but a couple were mental "B", a lower level.

Nothing says that Deckard as a replicant had to himself be an A/A. From his performance I would say he was probably a mental A but physically either a B or a C, considering that all the other replicants kicked his ass at one time or another.

Dan, why does a director have to give you the ending you want? The fact that you want Deckard to be human is really pretty irrelevant; what's important is whether a good story was told.

You are right that I haven't seen the Director's Cut; maybe I'll buy it on DVD. At the time the laserdisk came out, the Director's Cut hadn't been done yet, and part of the info about the unicorn was speculation.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 8:31 PM on September 28, 2000

I have blade runner on video ( director's cut ) and there is nothing in it which to me indicates that Deckard was a replicant, then again this Deckard being a replicant idea never entered my head until i read this thread.
posted by Zool at 8:56 PM on September 28, 2000

The thing that always bothers me about the whole "Deckard is a replicant thing" is, why bother? Is he a replica of the original (dead) Deckard? Or what?
posted by davidgentle at 9:11 PM on September 28, 2000

It was an extraordinarily dangerous mission, as proved by the human who got trashed at the beginning. Replicants are expendable.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 10:49 PM on September 28, 2000

I like the ambiguous ending, because I can go back and forth about what might be true.

the director's cut beats the original release hands down, if only because deckard doesn't know what her lifespan is--and that's the essence of love (well, and life, for that matter). not choosing what you know is safe and is preordained to be what you want it to be, but to choose and then throw your heart out over the wire and Go! come what may. there are never any guarantees, anyway.

the director's cut is just a better *story* and in my mind's eye the story is better with deckard as a human...but I like being able to wonder.

posted by rebeccablood at 11:11 PM on September 28, 2000

I think you people are missing the deeper point, Harrison Ford is a replicant but doesn't know it.
posted by lagado at 3:32 AM on September 29, 2000

It explains his wooden acting style, no?
posted by lagado at 3:32 AM on September 29, 2000

Steven: it's supposed to be the cyberpunk future right? HUmans are a hell of a lot cheaper than machines now. Why build a hugely complex machine? And where did he come from? and how long was he out there? and why? Rant rant rant.
posted by davidgentle at 1:59 PM on September 29, 2000

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