Blade Runner
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NOTE: Comments contain spoilers.

10 April 2000


It's thesis-writing time, and that makes me and everyone else who's ever been in this situation pedantic beyond all reasonable limits. Thus, there are two minor points I wanted to make about your Blade Runner analysis:

1) I think there is a very strong implication that the replicants (and the various other artificial animals) are heavily genetically engineered rather than simply being machines. This is based on the pseudo-scientific babble that was being tossed around in that short conversation between Roy and Tyrell–they were talking about genetics (Roy wanted Tyrell to fix the 4-year lifespan that was set in his genetic code). In Phillip K. Dick's book, though, the artificial life forms are definitely mechanical.

2) Those who credit William Gibson for "providing the inspiration that resulted in the real-life invention of the Internet" are committing a serious gaffe. Gibson did not invent the notion of the internet. The internet has been around since around the late 60's. It was originally created by the U.S. military in order to have a decentralized computer network that would still remain functional in the event that some areas were wiped out (i.e.,in a nuclear war). Eventually, people on university mainframes started getting access to the internet in the 70's, so, still well before Gibson wrote his book, the internet was already expanding beyond exclusive use by the military. I'm no scholar of internet history, so I'm not 100% sure about the exact dates, names, facts, etc. I'm just quoting from memory what I've read in a number of places about the development of the internet. But I do know for certain the internet was definitely around over a decade before Gibson came along. Now, I won't contest that Gibson's book brought the notion of the internet to a broader audience, and possibly led to the accelerated expansion and transformation we've seen in the past 10 years or so. I also grant you that Gibson probably didn't even know about the real internet when he came up with his vision. Say instead he may have provided the inspiration for the development of the internet into what it is today. But certainly not the "invention."



Your clarification about William Gibson's role in the development of the internet is well worth noting, and of course you're right. Normally I would not do this, but my wording was sloppy and just plain wrong, so I have substituted your wording for mine in the review. Thanks for spotting the error and bringing it to my attention.

Your other comment is also spot-on. The artificial critters and replicants in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? are indeed mechanical. But I guess the makers of the film realized that genetically engineered organic replicants were far more believable than mechanical ones, and would, it seems to me, be much harder to distinguish from "real" humans.

Tangentially, let me mention that the role animals (both real and artificial) play in the lives of the lonely and alienated humans left on Earth is a theme of the novel mostly lost in the film. Because virtually all animals have died, owning a real animal as a pet is quite a status symbol, and those who can't afford them purchase mechanical animals instead and pass them off as real. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how that could tie into the themes I discussed in my analysis.... Moreover, Deckard owns a mechanical animal that he purchased to replace the real one he used to own (but died). The animal is... drum roll please... a sheep. With regard to the question of whether Deckard is a replicant, this fact kinda makes you see the title of the novel in a whole new light, don't you think?


18 April 2000


Great review about Blade Runner!! It's about time holmes...;^) You should check out Future Noir: Retrofitting Blade Runner. I don't remember the author's name off the top of my head, but there is an extensive section on gaffs from the film, including the discrepancy in the number of replicants. It was a time consideration. Scott had to cut the length of the film down and one thing he did was to completely cut out the part of "Mary," the sixth replicant. They tried to recut the audio with a new voice-over in the scene between Deckard and Lt. Bryant but it didn't synch up right. Talk to you later!


Thanks, Tai. Yes, I finally got it done. Whew.

Thanks for the info about the deleted replicant. I figured it had to be something along those lines, and I probably should have researched it, but the resulting discrepancy (Capt. Bryant tells Deckerd there are five replicants loose and then only profiles four), though unintended, is still an interesting coincidence in light of the themes and implications of the Director's Cutwhich was really all I was trying to say.... I'm kind of surprised they didn't put those scenes back into the Director's Cut, but I guess Scott decided they didn't really add anything. Thanks for the tip about Future Noir.


8 June 2000


I've just read your review on Blade Runner. You mentioned the issue of there being 6 replicants mentioned, and Deckard has only to kill 4. It was said that one was terminated, which leaves one replicant. Now I'm not sure because I read the book quite a while ago, but I think that in Do androids dream of electric sheep? Philip K. Dick mentions what happens to this android. The rest of the details in this respect are consistent with the film; i.e., there were 6 androids to begin with and four are killed. I would therefore suggest that this detail was overlooked in the production of Blade Runner. Perhaps you would care to look into it.

Tim Wade

Since I wrote the review, I have learned that Roy (Rutger Hauer) has an additional companion in the script, and that scenes with this replicant were shot for the movie. When they edited the film, they dropped the character, but the scene with Deckard's boss couldn't be changed... so it's an error in the film, pure and simple. But an intriguing error, no?

I've read the book, and seem to recall an additional replicant there as well, but I read it awhile ago, too.

Thanks for writing,

10 July 2000

Carlo must be a replicant.

How else could he possibly know?

From The Guardian:

Blade Runner riddle revealed Monday July 10, 2000 Nearly two decades of fierce debate among film buffs over a plot twist in the cult classic Blade Runner is finally over, thanks to a Channel 4 documentary. Fans of the film have been divided over whether Harrison Ford's hard-boiled cop, Deckard, was really a genetically-created 'replicant' rather than a human being. Both the 1982 original film, and the Director's Cut from 1991, were deliberately ambiguous on the matter, but director Ridley Scott has now finally revealed that his hero was indeed a replicant.

The notion was hinted at in the Director's Cut with the biggest clue thought to be the appearance of a unicorn on screen while Deckard is lost in thought. The image of the creature appears again towards the end of the film when he picks up an origami model discarded by another character, Gaff. As the replicants have no memories of their own, fans interpreted the appearance of the model as a sign that Gaff knew what Deckard was thinking because it was an image shared by other non-humans.

In the documentary, On The Edge Of Blade Runner, to be broadcast on July 15, immediately after a showing of Blade Runner: Director's Cut, Scott discusses these scenes and confirms: "He's a replicant."

The film was considered a relative box-office flop on its release but proved to be a huge success when released on video, and its futuristic urban imagery is now considered to be highly influential.

–Glenn Sheridan

Note: Glenn is an occasional AboutFilm contributor.

Well, there you go, then.



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