Blade Runner: Film Overview – Machine Slavery

This review is intended for those who has already seem the movie and want to think and discuss about it. The version analysed is Blade Runner Final Cut.

*SPOILER ALERT*

“I’ll tell you about my mother.”

“Replicants are like any other machine. They’re either a benefit or a hazard. If they’re a benefit, it’s not my problem.” – Rick Deckard.

Are Replicants truly a machine? Or has it evolved feelings to become ‘more human than human’? Who are their mothers? What is consideres to be a human? Only humans should have fundamenta rights?

The story is on an hypothetical scenario. Not in a desert but in a future Los Angeles. 

“Ridley Scott’s 1982 science-fiction thriller follows the story of Los Angeles cop Rick Decker in an imagined future reality. Branded digital billboards, voice-controlled technology, environmental issues. Wait, doesn’t that sound kind of familiar?”[1]

Where everyone seems to speak Chinese. I like Chinese.

If Darwin is anything to shout about
The Chinese will survive us all without any doubt
“ENJOY COCA COLA” That’s a thing that got me thinking. Even in a dystopian future like this, with so many intrinsic changes, will people still drink coke the same way? Ok, that’s maybe only a merchant. 
Curiosity: all Blade Runner’s merchant was cursed. “It might not be quite as hardcore-cursed as Poltergeist or The Omen, but Blade Runner has a curse of its own … on the businesses whose logos appear in the film. Atari, Pan Am, RCA, Cuisinart, and Bell Phones all suffered severe business problems in the years shortly after Blade Runner’s release, as did Coca-Cola, whose 1985 “New Coke” experiment was less than successful. Members of the Blade Runner production team refer to this as the ‘product-placement Blade Runner curse.‘”

And how does this future may look like? Flying cars and sky cities? Something like that, with incredible scenarios, filled with big bright screens and a myriad of lights. 

The world seems overpopulated, how many people might live in that enormous Los Angeles? Everywhere is crowded. I wonder what all those people work with. It is said that the city is not overpopulated because there are too many people on the planet, but rather because everywhere else is pretty much a barren wasteland. Because the story is set on a post-war scenario (according to the book “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, in which the movie was based). The continuing destruction of our environment is an ever-present message in the film. The streets of L.A. are dark and bleak and the rain never seems to stop. There are no trees or greenery to be found. Animals seem to be extinct or extremely rare, being replaced by synthetic variants. Some say we are headed for a similar future if we don’t change our ways.

We can see society’s stratification on the cities. Many people in a poverty and dirty condition, working in a frenetic and dark atmosphere. The lack of sunlight is clear and everything is covered by a tremendous dramatic aura. What a chaotic surrounding! 

Now let’s take a look into the narrative: Tearing a page out of the “Fallen Angels” playbook, a few of the replicants crossed the forbidden boundary and came to earth in search of their creator and prolonged life. They are hunted and “retired” (terminated) by human “Blade Runners’. Played by Ford, the Blade Runner of the story hunts down four sub human replicants who fell to earth. Deckard, Harrison Ford, is predestined (by pure and spontaneous pressure) to chase all these Replicants that have escaped the alien colony. He has to risk his life in order to success in this mission. And so he goes in this glorious journey. He flies all around Los Angeles (but this time he isn’t piloting, is Han Solo devastated? Maybe…) to test a machine, his aim is to find out if it’s a truly replicant. It happens that the machine is gorgeous! 

She is, as Tyrell said, “More human than human.”

Rachael, the machine, thinks she is a veridic human. Is she beginning to suspect the reality? 

“You think I’m a replicant, don’t you?” says she while showing Deckard a picture with her mother when she was 6, as an attempt to prove her humanity. 

“You ever tell anyone that? Your mother, Tyrell? They’re implants. Those aren’t your memories, they’re somebody else’s. They’re Tyrell’s niece’s. Okay, bad joke, I’m sorry… No, really, I made a bad joke. Go home, you’re not a Replicant… (sigh) you wanna drink? I’ll get you a drink.” Replies Deckard, revealing her her true identity. And that raises the question “Are we defined by our remembrances?” Rachael thought she was human because she had memories. She created an identity based on this recollection she had inserted. It would be possible to create a machine’s identity based on the memories inserted. What about us, is our identity based on our memory?

Have you ever heard of a Transhuman? Transhumanists believe that our soul is the accumulation of our memories and experiences stored in our memory and run by your biological computer, your body. And these memories, your soul, can be transplanted or implanted, digitally uploaded, into a new body such as a clone or a holographic avatar. This is called digital reincarnation.[2] So, if Replicants have an organic body, memories and feelings, why shouldn’t they have fundamental rights? Can we do to them whatever we like? What separates us from animals and machines?

A PAUSE TO ENLIGHTEN THIS MARVELLOUS SOUNDTRACK BY VANGELIS. Though Blade Runner is an 80s film, the music sounds timeless to me. To what “Memories of Green” might refer? Implanted memory. Green nostalgia.

“Fiery the angels fell;

deep thunder rolled around their shores;

burning with the fires of Orc”

This Blake’s misquote said by Nexus is incredibly interesting. Who were the orcs on William Blake’s literature? I think it might be impressively different from Tolkien’s concept. Orc here is a force of revolution and revival with most interpretations regarding him as a largely positive figure of creativity, passionate energy. 

“Lover of rebellion and freedom”

“Is it a signifier that the lead replicant is fallible? Or is this a knowing shift to the text and its meaning. Many scholars have pointed out that the character of Orc embodies the young striking down the old, and has parallels in the revolt of  a son against the father. As the replicants of Blade Runner try to revolt in order to renew and extend their lives, and fight their way towards their creator, Eldon Tyrell, the imagery seems apt.” 

Maybe is this the meaning of an orc mention here? Yes, questions. 

Roy Batty shows no mercy to the special one who gave him the blessing of sight. Instead he forced him to give the name he was craving for: J. F Sebastian. 

Worse than that, he kills his creator. WHY? Once he meets Tyrell and finds that he can not help him he kills him. Apparently Nexus have no feelings.

THIS alien image is magnificent. Surely a “Grey”, “a gray-skinned humanoid, usually 3–4 feet tall, bald, with black almond-shaped eyes, nostrils without a nose, slits for mouths, no ears and 3-4 fingers including thumb. They have been the center of quite a few cases of alleged alien contact over the years.” Blackmore, Susan (May 1998). “Abduction by Aliens or Sleep Paralysis?”

They are known for the desire of Earth’s exploitation and the intention to rule our planet, reinforcing their structured slavery and stratified society. Is this linked to the dystopian background we face in this movie? Probably. 

“I make friends. My friends are toys. I make them.” Is the genetics designer, J. F. Sebastian, trying to show us a glimpse of what may be humanity’s manipulation or is he intended to reveal us the supremacy of artificial intelligence? 

At a certain point Deckard sees a unicorn. Is there a greater symbol of magical and mythical imagination? But why does he see it? “The unicorn that’s used in Deckard’s daydream tells me that Deckard wouldn’t normally talk about such a thing to anyone,” Scott explained to WIRED in 2007. “If Gaff knew about that, [the origami unicorn] is Gaff’s message to say, ‘I’ve basically read your file, mate.’” He knows about Deckard’s private daydreams because those daydreams were implanted in his (bionic) brain. Maybe this is the stronger indicative that Deckard is absolutely a Replicant. Also, the unicorn figure may symbolise the divine presence through the feminine aspect pf the Creation. It can also represent the different between the horses. Essentially, this Gaff’s sign to Deckard must give us an insight towards the plot and our own fate. 

Deckard is absolutely a Replicant. Do you think so? “The answer depends on which Blade Runner you watch. Each cut of the film appears to tell a different story – and Blade Runner has been through no fewer than seven different versions. Meanwhile, Fancher’s script was heavily rewritten by another writer, David Peoples – and neither of them wrote the voice-over dialogue that was used for the original release.” Read more about this here.

“Watch her take the pleasures from the serpent that once corrupted man.”

I find this so powerful! What corrupted man more than knowledge? And now a woman, the one who linked Adam to the real, is taking pleasure from the cursed reptile, the ultimate responsible for enchanting humankind with the knowledge. “And the serpent said unto the woman: ‘Ye shall not surely die; for God knows that in the day you eat thereof, your eyes shall open, and you shall be as God, knowing good and evil.’” (Bible citation)

“You could say this was the first manifestation of man’s “I.” Until that moment, he existed in the general Light, fully devout to the Creator, when suddenly his “eyes were opened”: There is my “I,” there is my ego.” 

Is the movie making an apology for the Creation? Maybe, since it reveals human intentions on creation, symbolising our egoism and desire to shape our reality according to our selfish desires. 

And the serpent woman falls down. As all Replicants should, at least that’s what Gaff thinks. 

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

Tears in Rain monologue when Deckard confronts Roy Batty.

And so he abbreviates his four years spam. 

Now, can you answer: what was this machine’s purpose?

Maybe they were made to militar purposes, or to spacial exploitation? But they were certainly created to serve humankind.

MACHINE SLAVERY

Should machine have fundamental rights?

Humans have since always exploited one another, slavery has followed our evolution. But we have developed a moral sense that no longer allows us to do this (at least not legally, however we know it still happens all around the world, unfortunately.

Slavery is no longer morally accepted. On the other hand, what about machines? Can we do anything we please to them once they are not human? Can we create machines to do what we do not want to do, can we subjugate them as we would like, serving as a sexual amusement or being used as labour force on battlefield?

Nevertheless, once they have evolved feelings, have an organic flesh and self consciousness aren’t them to be considered as worthy as any other life form? Shouldn’t we respect them as an alive creature?

We are so selfish that once in the past we used other humans to serve us. Now we still use animals, treating them as slaves without any decent life condition to serve us as food. And undoubtedly we would mistreat all machine, even though they are so similar to us we couldn’t tell the difference – using as excuse the merciless concept that “they are only machines.”

I could spend many lines on machine rights and also on machine threat: what if they surpass all and instead WE BECOME THEIR SLAVES? Still, aren’t we somehow already slaves somehow? Think deeply and you know the answer.

BLADE RUNNER & IRON MAIDEN 

Have you ever heard “Somewhere in Time”. An Iron Maiden’s album based on Blade Runner
Lots of references on this album cover.
The cover for Somewhere in Time, created by the band’s then regular artist Derek Riggs, displays a cyborg-enhanced Eddie in a futuristic, Blade Runner-inspired environment.
Here you can read “Live After Death”, right beside “Blade Runner”. And the name of the cinema ‘The Philip K. Dick Cinema’ is a nod to the author whose book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

2 thoughts on “Blade Runner: Film Overview – Machine Slavery

  1. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain” the monologue written by David Peoples was altered by Rutger Hauer (Roy Batty) the night before filming. He cut so many lines and added what he felt were more in tune with the movie.

    movie lines: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.”

    original script: “I’ve seen things… seen things you little people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion bright as magnesium… I rode on the back decks of a blinker and watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments… they’ll be gone”

    earlier version script: “I’ve known adventures, seen places you people will never see, I’ve been Offworld and back… frontiers! I’ve stood on the back deck of a blinker bound for the Plutition Camps with sweat in my eyes watching stars fight on the shoulder of Orion… I’ve felt wind in my hair, riding test boats off the black galaxies and seen an attack fleet burn like a match and disappear. I’ve seen it, felt it…!”

    The critics loved. They felt: “suggesting that in the replicant (…) there remains a place for something human”

    Kudos for Maiden and Python.

    There is an animated series called Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040. Robots (Boomers – artificial cybernetic life forms) are intended to work in inferior jobs serving mankind. In order to make humans evolve and work in better positions. But things start to get a lil off when these robots get “crazy”. And yes, there are corporations behind this. About the name, the writer said: “We originally named the series ‘bubblegum’ to reflect a world in crisis, like a chewing-gum bubble that’s about to burst.” Only 8 episodes.

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