Skip to content

The Blade Runners – Changing Themes

It's Mr. Angry, playing movie critic here. There are spoilers of the Blade Runner movies in this post, so don't read this if you haven't seen and want to watch them.

I was feeling some nostalgia about the Blade Runner movies the other day - the original and its sequel Blade Runner 2049. The original was released for theaters in 1982 and has been revised numerous times into lastly the "final cut" which was released in 2007.

The original theatrical release of Blade Runner had its flaws, mainly a voice-over narration by Harrison Ford and a "happily ever after" ending. These were done mainly for the audiences of the time, who had difficulty with the plot and questionable ending of the movie as envisioned by the director Ridley Scott. These were later "fixed" in the "director's cut" of the movie released on DVD.

After watching both versions, I loved them both.

But the ending where Rutger Hauser's character Roy Batty gave a dying monologue and then released a white dove spoke most to me.

It's a funny happenstance of how it occurred, from what I've heard about the production.
Ridley Scott was running out of time on the movie, so the bright morning sky appeared while filming the dove flying into it. Into a beautiful, blue, clear sky.

As we see from later "cuts", Ridley had envisioned a dark, cloudy sky, making the scene much more sad and somber in tone.

I had recognized the symbolism of the dove. It was Roy's soul, as it had emerged from a four year old manufactured life. It either ascended into heaven or flew off into oblivion. I liked the former much more than the latter. So in my opinion, that accident in filming was serendipity at its finest.

The other pivotal replicant character was Rachael, who had implanted memories. This memory implantation seemed to be a completely novel technology invented by the Tyrell Corporation in the original Blade Runner; other replicants had no such memories and began their lives as adults with a four year lifespan. That company was owned by the founder and inventor Eldon Tyrell, who was very advanced in age. Tyrell had used his niece's memories to implant into the replicant Rachael, who had no set lifespan.

Tyrell, in essence, was manufacturing a fully human life, in any form or fashion he saw fit.

We will come back to this after describing some of Blade Runner 2049, directed by Denis Villeneuve

The long awaited sequel to Blade Runner burst upon the scene in 2017, with Denis Villeneuve as the director.

The cinematography was second to none. The original movie of course had relatively no CGI; this sequel had some but it was done terrifically, sometimes in the most subtle of ways.

The movie's setting was 30 years after the first one, which (not coincidentally) matches the actual time span between the filming of the movies.

In the sequel, Tyrell Corporation collapsed and was bought by a much younger man, Niander Wallace. Niander, by the way, was born blind which proves he is absolutely human.

Wallace has an entirely different goal than Tyrell did. His androids seem to have the implanted memories that Tyrell was pursuing, and have no set lifespans. However, Wallace doesn't think he has the facilities to manufacture the number of replicants to ensure some facsimile of human life throughout eternity among the worlds in the universe.

The novel technology that seems to elude Wallace is reproduction among replicants. With this, Wallace will no longer need manufacturing facilities; everything he needs will be inside the replicants themselves. In other words, a race of slaves to serve the "true" humans.

Now let us examine the goals of the two creators, Tyrell and Wallace.

Tyrell was no doubt feeling his mortality encroach, which was prematurely and unexpectedly brought to him by one of his creations. If Tyrell could have made replicants and implanted them with whatever memories he could retrieve from someone, he could then simply take his own memories and put them in a new body, thus becoming, in essence, immortal.

Wallace, as stated before, wanted to supplant God, possibly as some sort of twisted vengeance against his own Creator for making him blind, and thus flawed.

In the prologue vignettes posted on Youtube, Wallace was shown as responsible for fending off famine for humanity. He possibly thought that he was not adequately recognized for doing this, and so wanted to go further by creating a race of humans that would see him as their true creator and. due to their programming, would properly worship him.

These deep thoughts along with the pretty lights and sounds are why I love these two movies so much.