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What is the true plot of Blade Runner?

Blade Runner films are primarily about life and, more particularly, about life beyond death. Using Ridley Scott′s own words put into the mouth of Harrison Ford aka Rick Deckard, the story is about the questions we all ask ourselves: Where did we come from? Where are we going? How much time do we have left? Critics smashed it in 1982, when it was showing for the first time in theaters; its influence on society, however, has clearly had the delayed effect of a tsunami.

Article by Pablo Fernández from Barcelona on Wednesday, December 22nd 2021 ·.·★ Reading takes 18 minutes or 3567 words.


Many like Ridley Scott were trying to make the novel ′Dune′ into a film in the 1970s. Alexandro Jodorowsky, for example, had hired cartoonist Jean Giraud alias Moebius for the same purpose. Moebius was working on it when ′Alien screenwriter Dan O-Bannon arrived in Paris from California, with that typically post-hippie look that characterized him. He had arrived too early according to the schedule and to kill time he began to do what he really liked, drawings for comics, some of which he began to share with Moebius.

Moebius automatically fell in love with one of the stories, the typical story of a paid policeman in a Humphrey Bogart raincoat, but now set in the future. As good friends, of course, they came to an agreement that they could develop two different versions of the same idea. The story of Moebius in particular places the protagonist on a mission where he has to kill an alien creature, who to hide disguises himself as a beautiful woman and where inevitably hunter and prey end up united in a love relationship.

The story has clear nods to the Jean-Luc Godard film published in 1965 under the title ′Alphaville′ and was finally published under the title ′The Long Tomorrow′ in the two branches of Heavy Metal magazine from 1975. In the hands of Ridley Scott he would soon become one of Blade Runner′s most obvious influences as well. Ridley Scott was then stuck in his production of ′Dune′ and the death of his brother convinced him that he definitely needed to do something different. Producer Michael Deeley made him a proposal that he couldn′t refuse and he joined them on January 21, 1980.

The Dreams of Androids and the Electric Sheep of Philip K. Dick

Philip K. Dick had written the short story ′Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?′ in 1968 and many like Martin Scorsese, Herb Jaffe or Michael Deeley had shown interest in taking it to the cinema. The first thing Ridley Scott did when joining the preparations for Blade Runner is to have Hampton Fancher′s script revised, forcing him to highlight the more human and religious elements that he had lost - a job that David Peoples actually ended up doing and that, within what that fits, also thanked Philip K. Dick.

The writer of the original story suffered from thirteen years of serious problems with dreams and visions that he himself came to attribute to schizophrenia: ′I was experiencing an invasion of my mind by a transcendentally rational mind′ -Philip K. Dick said then - ′as if I had been crazy all my life and suddenly I had become sane.′ He further claimed that he had begun to live a double life: one as an American writer named Philip and another as a Christian persecuted by the Romans in the 1st century AD. C. called Tomás.

Philip K. Dick tried to normalize his views by claiming rational or religious explanations, according to which he had come into contact with a divinity whom he called Zebra, God, or more frequently SIVAINVI. The story of Philip K. Dick in 1968 about a future civilization where humans have to leave a San Francisco covered in acid rain and migrate to outer space aided by slave robots, would nevertheless give a lot of play in the hands of Ridley Scott.

Madness, the search for the creator and the silence of God

The Rorschach tests that Philip K. Dick became familiar with are obviously behind the Voight-Kampff tests, the identification tests robots are subjected to in Blade Runner. That is why we should not think that this story is talking first of the hypothetical contrasts and dilemmas between robots and humans, more typical of science fiction. The base of the subject in Blade Runner is drinking first of the contrasts in the differentiation or identification of the madness and the reason to which the author was always exposed. But let′s look at what Rachel is really concerned about when she opens her heart to Deckard and says: ′I can′t trust my memory!.

Philip K. Dick was not exactly the easiest writer for most of the American population to assimilate. It could be said that he was just the opposite. The dystopia that Philip K. Dick describes is in the words of the writer Jesús Alonso Burgos in his interesting publication ′What Deckard Didn′t Know′: ′a kind of communitarian and pietistic post-atheism, very much in line with North American evangelism.′ Many atheists have used the film as a banner for their beliefs, but are there really motives? You can′t kill what doesn′t exist, nor can you kill someone you haven′t met yet, but you can kill everyone who lets you down in your search - which is just what Roy Batty, the leader of the leaders, does with his own hands. Robotic outlaws.

Blade Runner therefore, in a strict sense, does not stage the death of God. Actually, three creators die: Hannibal Chew, the designer of the eyes; J.F. Sebastian, the genetic designer; and Eldon Tyrell, the designer of the brain, mind and memories of those Nexus 6. Eldon Tyrell, for example, has unsuccessfully explored all the possible options that could extend Roy′s life. He goes over them one by one with his creature but there are clearly insurmountable technical difficulties that Roy himself finally recognizes - which is when he also discovers that he has suffered the effects of a mirage. The silence of God, however, is evident in Blade Runner - as it was in ′The Seventh Seal,′ one of the films that had aroused the most interest in Ridley Scott. The Blade Runner poster already gives the viewer a first clue of the place that God occupies in history: ′Man has taken sides ... now it is his problem.′

Cain running away from God

As Cain he must have entered the terrible city of the men of the Book of Genesis, fleeing without success to avoid being recognized by his past; so Harrison Ford aka Rick Deckard enters the opening scene of Blade Runner. The idea of a nocturnal predator was implicit in the Edward Hopper painting that Ridley Scott always used in meetings entitled ′Nighthawk.′ A huge bird of these characteristics will literally appear on the scene but before, like a night hawk, Deckard begins flying over the airspace of Los Angeles, a city now more like the dirtiest suburbs of Tokyo, New York or Hong Kong. Beneath Deckard′s feet lies an endless dark city, dominated by towering buildings owned by the Tyrell Corporation.

The strange inhabitants of the city do not show too many affective traits and circulate like automatons, illuminated only by the dim glow of the omnipresent neon signs or the reflection that these leave on the always wet streets. They share the space with all kinds of exotic species such as snakes, ostriches or owls, often wearing costumes that over time will serve as the basis for movements such as cyberpunk. They don′t seem to have time to speak and when they do, they do so in an unstructured mix of emigrant languages. Anguish haunts the characters also indoors, always overloaded with hundreds of details, deliberately disordered and illuminated from the outside by threatening spotlights from the security forces.

Gaff, the chief police officer in charge of removing the robots, also appears dressed in a raincoat in the purest style of film noir, in the image and likeness of the same Humphrey Bogart who had occupied those same studios forty years earlier. His strict sense of logic leads him to assure that death is something natural. For their part, robots, however, which have been created to be ′more human than human′, as happens to Ridley Scott himself, only think about one thing: how to obtain eternal life from the hands of their creator?

Cain in the temple of the city of men

For the aesthetic part Ridley Scott had in mind as we have said the solitary scenes of Edward Hopper. He wanted to rehire Moebius but then the French cartoonist was busy and he recommended Syd Mead to him. Syd Mead had known the world of comics thanks to his father, who by day served as a Baptist pastor and at night read to him installments of Superman, Flash Gordon or Buck Rogers. Professionally, Syd Mead would promote himself in the area of industrial design until one of his designs is signed for Star Wars. The demanding Ridley Scott bought 100% of his proposal not only in relation to the Blade Runner vehicles but also in relation to the scenarios that he had set to contextualize them.

Douglas Trumbull′s instructions for the construction of the interiors of the ziggurats or pyramids of the Tyrell Corporation were very clear in relation to the religious aspect that they should suggest. The disproportionate size, ostentatious luxury and straight lines inside these buildings are designed to show just the opposite extreme of what is common in the rest of the city. It is interesting to mention here that according to a phrase from his film ′Prometheus′, straight lines are not proper to divinity: ′God does not build straight lines′ - literally says the character of Marshall-Green. The straight 25-foot columns at Tyrell Corporation, however, were intended to belittle the characters.

When Rick Deckard walks into these unique offices and starts talking to the suspicious Sean Young aka Rachel, the voices return to them with the echo effect of a cathedral. Tyrell Corporation was, in short, an enormous empty building where, as Friedrich Nietzsche said, it is not so evident that the divinity had been assassinated as that men had long ago abandoned it. Gods were in his time more than ever according to Friedrich Nietzsche. What had died was God in the consciousness of contemporary man and ′churches and cathedrals - he writes - are no longer but beautiful funerary monuments′.

The need for a happy ending

I was a teenager in 1982, I had read the complete works of Jules Verne and Blade Runner captivated me like nothing before had. Since then, up to seven different versions of the first installment of Blade Runner were screened. The reasons have generally revolved around the difficulty of reaching an agreement about the ending. The ending of Philip K. Dick′s novel is complete nonsense and during the filming of the film there was consensus that it had to be rewritten. The more difficult question then was which end should take its place. Ridley Scott was fully determined to write a sad ending but the producers took it seriously. The movie was already dark enough that I also couldn′t have a glimmer of hope at the end.

The ending is also closely linked to the controversial question of whether or not Rick Deckard is a robot, something that is maintained on the level of artistic ambiguity by the first three writers: Philip K. Dick, Hampton Fancher and David Peoples. When he gets into the hands of Ridley Scott, however, the English director clearly sets out to turn him into a robot. ′In the ending I wrote in my first draft -says screenwriter David Peoples- ′Deckard killed Gaff because he was trying to exterminate Rachel. Then Deckard would take Rachel to the beach and kill her too. Then he would go back to her apartment, where he could be seen loading his gun.

In David Peoples′ version, at the end ′Deckard philosophically questions what it was that differentiated him from Rachel and the other replicants. He was supposed to realize that human beings weren′t that different [...] But then Ridley Scott misunderstood me and it was around this time that he started saying, ′Aha! Deckard is a replicant! What a great idea, pure heavy metal! [...] What I wanted to say is that we all have a maker and an expiration date. We just can′t talk to him. ′

California in 2049 according to Blade Runner

Plans for a second part of Blade Runner begin as early as 1986 but it is not until 2017 that it can be released. Ridley Scott, in this latest project, has finally left the direction in charge of someone with less experience, the director of films like ′Prisioners′ - who curiously prepares a version of ′Dune′. Ridley Scott now acts in the shadows as producer and screenwriter, finally taking the cat into the water and making the new cop from the beginning clearly a robot.

History in 2049 assures us that from the relationship between Deckard and Rachel a boy had been born. Birth itself is an unprecedented miracle, as no company has ever succeeded in creating a robot that can reproduce. This clear birth grants the creature messianic categories. The creature is a promise that, moreover, must necessarily die in order to avoid class conflict and maintain peace. ′They will come after me soon,′ says the protagonist to his partner after a hard and dark night. The continual references to the Bible in the different Blade Runner stories make it hard to believe that Ridley Scott was as bored in church as he claims to be.

The protagonist of the new Blade Runner is haunted by his inability to have seen a miracle. This time he has a stable relationship but it is an equally lonely relationship: it is a relationship with a simulator. They celebrate anniversaries with software updates and holograms of kisses are interrupted when there are incoming calls. Everything is quite familiar to those of us who have assimilated the new connectivity solutions. The technological companies are the gods and their products the salvation of men. Wallace, the founder of the dominant company, is ambitious, capricious and cruel, giving voice to phrases such as: ′We could storm Eden and take it back.′

Death and the end of freedom

Living in fear is typical of slaves, is what the old replicant models Roy Batty and Leon Kowalski had told Rick Deckard. The freedom to choose is a theme that is clearly linked to the main theme of life. Death equals us all and is the most lapidary confirmation of the finiteness of our freedom. Each thinker has given the turns that he has needed to the concept of freedom and death to take them to their own ground, but the reality is that in the end death has come to show that we are not in control.

Listening to the Blade Runner characters, it′s hard not to imagine Ridley Scott clinging to photos, trying to fit the death of his older brother in the Far East. ′You can′t play if you′re not alive,′ says a delusional robot, overflowing with life, knowing that it barely has a few minutes to live. He has stuck an iron in his hand but he hardly feels anything anymore: ′Go to hell, go to heaven! An euphoric Roy shouts in a state of grace.

′I have seen things that you would not believe′ -he says, already calm, about one of the most beautiful melodies ever composed. ′Strike ships ablaze beyond Orion′s shoulder. I′ve seen C-rays glow in the dark near the Tannhíuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain . ′It′s time to die,′ the robot finally says, citing the same book of Ecclesiastes that its human creator Eldon Tyrell had previously quoted. The sky opens up and shows blue for the first and last time in the movie, right at this moment. He does it to receive a white dove, which has finally been freed from the hand of the already dead replicant.

Laws are incapable of defeating death

Rick Deckard had appeared at the beginning of the story as a cruel and heartless murderer, however, he finally receives by grace the gift of life twice in a row. He also receives it from the hands of precisely those who could least expect it: the replicants whom he had to kill. ′I′m done,′ says Deckard, quoting the last words of Christ on the cross. ′Do you love me? Do you trust me?′ I am powerfully struck by the fact that the cruel murderer, now transformed, finally uses the concepts of love and trust for the first time in order to move on.

Unlike most popular religions, Jesus Christ does not seem particularly interested in preserving tradition. Jesus Christ, in fact, uses the failure of the past to establish a new covenant, a new creation where death no longer has the last word. His new covenant is ultimately based on proven facts, of course, but also on love and trust; Precisely because religion has proven in the old covenant that laws are incapable of defeating death.

Beyond the expectations of many who, with their fears and prejudices, have perhaps wished or perhaps feared the death of God, God himself uses his own death to give life to all of them equally, as the apostle points out John writing: ′For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.′ A single death to give everyone life without limits is something that may seem too beautiful to be true. Love requires, however, like Deckard′s new relationship, the trust without which a good relationship is not possible.


This is an short translation of the original article published in Spanish by Entrelíneas: Revista de Arte as ¿Cuál es el verdadero argumento de Blade Runner?


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