Maybe it was because I was watching this with my wife on a TV, but I didn’t think it was all that great. Decent, but I’d never watch it again. Shrug.
I listened to a StarTalk Radio show the other day, where an astrophysicist made a very common statement (paraphrased): “The reason we want humans on Mars is because what takes a robot a week to do, a human geologist can do in three minutes”.
There’s no way Frodo would have made it to Mt. Doom. The neophyte pilot Luke Skywalker would have had his X-Wing blown out from under him long before he got to the trench. Of course it’s a plot tool. It’s science fiction, which is all about asking “what if” questions. In this case, it’s “what if humans built meta-humans that are better than their creators in every way?” It’s not “this is is stupid, because drones are obviously superior”.
If we can replicate the main functions of the human body, we don’t need to make an actual human to do certain jobs. I’m not making a complicated point here, google car factories or something, look at the robots which replaced human workers in the past 30 years, they look nothing like us and for very good reasons. Tools are made to do their jobs efficiently not to start crying on the job like Luv in Blade Runner 2049.
It’s possible to integrate androids in a sci-fi world in a way that doesn’t affect the suspension of disbelief. You mentioned Star Trek so Data is one example. Even in this film, sex workers or other forms of human companions are much more believable than super-soldiers.
Now, see, that’s the wobbly bit. What affects your suspension of disbelief may not affect mine. Obviously, I have no problems with superhuman biological androids instead of Wall-E and the robots from Herbie Hancock’s “RockIt” video. You do. YMMV.
Why were the Blade Runners on Earth humans? It tells you in the opening text of the original movie:
After a bloody mutiny by a NEXUS 6 combat team in an Off-world colony,
Replicants were declared illegal on earth - under penalty of death.
So the illegal Replicants were always overpowered. Gaff hanging around is also explained by the fact that Deckard isn’t on the force anymore, explained when Bryant calls him back to the job after Holden’s near-deadly encounter with Leon.
I will forever think that “Deckard is a Replicant” is more a preview of M.Night or of Scott’s later career than the masterpiece that the original theatrical release was, minus the Shining drive in the mountains.
Some of the best movies have come from an internal tension/conflict, or with multiple voices. Just look what Marsha Lucas did as an editor for Star Wars: ANH. vs. some of the decisions made in the prequels.
Well, sure, that’s what you’re supposed to think initially. But the reveal is that Gaff has been watching Deckared because Deckard is a replicant. The theatrical release strips this layer away and Gaff is just an overly fussy policeman hovering around the fringes of Deckard’s investigation for no good reason.
I always think of the line by that character at the end “to bad she won’t live , but then again who does…”
Tyrell and Wallace both have God complexes. And why wouldn’t they, given that they’ve come closer than anyone else to recreating “God’s greatest creation.” (Not their words but obviously their sentiment.) But why stop there? What if you could improve on God’s work? The replicants are clearly superior in many ways.
Tyrell obviously loved his creations He’s not just paying Roy Batty lip service during their interview. And with Rachel, he’s pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. What if you could create a replicant so perfect it passed it’s own Turing Test? What if you could create a replicant with real emotions, embedded with memories it believes to be true? What if you could overcome the technical hurdles and create a replicant without a three year life span? What if you could create a replicant that can replicate? How close to God are you at that point? How wonderous is your creation?
Wallace has similar feelings but he also goes on in his tedious way about want to conquer the universe. He’s frustrated that his replicants have only allowed humans to colonize nine planets. If replicants could procreate, his creations would spread across the universe.
So, not entirely a plot tool but narratively consistent.
There’s also a lot we don’t know about replicant minds. They are bio-engineered humans, not strictly speaking AI. There is a reference in one of the movies that memories make them more emotionally stable. Emotions and intelligence can be useful for a variety of reasons. Look at Joi, for example. Or take a step back and look at the Amazon Echo. How much smarter can we make it? How much more useful will it be as we push the limits of AI further? And how much more accepting of it will customers be if it’s responses are more convincingly human? Joi is that same line of thought extended out into the not too distant future. But then comes the central question of the movie – At what point does something artificial, created in our image, become “real.” Can it obtain agency? Can it have a soul?
The idea that replicants have emotions isn’t a plot point, it’s essential to the themes both movies explore.
That’s a lot of question marks which brings me back to a point I made in the other thread or earlier in this one regarding whether or not Decker is a replicant. The question is more interesting than the answer. Is the dog real? Ask the dog. Are any of us real or are we simulations in Elon Musk’s nightmares? And does it matter?
This reminds me. I watched Iron Man 2 to prep for a recent podcast. I had totally forgotten about this:
“You’re a cop. I had your job once. I was good at.”
It’s fine and dandy to theorycraft about the intentions of those characters but you’re missing the elephant in the room. Sure, Tyrell and Wallace think they’re gods but aren’t they businessmen first and foremost? And yes it’s possible for businessmen to sell dreams, for a while. Elon Musk is doing it (it’s interesting that you would mention him), Chris Roberts is doing too. Elizabeth Holmes did it but she’s not doing great nowadays because sooner or later, even your most fervent backers run out of patience and they start demanding results.
In this case, Tyrell would make his amazing, inspiring android presentation but the generals or the decision makers would be like “That’s nice and all but we’ll take 100k of those drones as they are more suited for the job. You can also throw in some robots for heavy lifting - keep their sensors and their precision but we don’t need the useless human bodies and feelings”. And that would be the end of it.
You don’t need to create a human-like AI to explore the “soul”. We already have all the material we need in the form of animals. There’s no fixed point at which something becomes “real” much like there isn’t a fixed point at which a person becomes adult. It just gradually happens.
As for Amazon Echo it’s a basically a toaster that adjusts its heat or for how long it heats bread, based on the previous preferences of the owner, there’s nothing else in there. :)
In the end, in all boils down to “I am he as you are he as you are me, and we are all together…”
But what about the pleasure models!
They’re still working on the “crush your head between its thighs and pull you up by your nostrils bug” *
- may also be a feature
I read this essay recently and it mentions something I never caught, or dismissed. Both Rachel and Deckard play the same piano piece (kind of a slow listing piece) independently. I’m going to watch it again now (Final Cut, not sure about original) and see if they are patterns of each other or unrelated and therefore probably imprinted.
One thing I just noticed in the original I’ve never noticed:. Deckard keeps eating his noodles in Olmos’ car on the way to the police station. Ha!
The song I remember from that is one of my favorite bits on the soundtrack. I think it is “Memories of Green” but it’s not the same thing he is playing, he plays under it on the soundtrack. Maybe. Now I’m confused.
Anyway, I love “Memories of Green” and look forward to you reporting on what you find from watching it again.
“Memories. You’re talking about memories.”
So are a lot of people who think Deckard isn’t a replicant.
Seriously, though, I’m really curious to hear what @Guap discovers. I could always use another arrow in my “Deckard is so totally a replicant, you dummies!” quiver.
“Do you like our owl?”
Ok, here is my analysis.
So it turns out the piano piece is on sheet music in Deckard’s apartment. I’ll set up the scene in a long handed, Iove this movie and it has one of my favorite sub scenes of all time in cinema. I call it “the lonely man”.
So Rachael comes to Deckard’s apartment for the first time, by which I mean he almost shoots her. Incidentaly, I’ve seen the old “backseat of the car guy gets you” a million times. I remember one pretty clearly in A Few Good Men as Colonel Blows-His-Brains-Out-Later-In-Discrace pulls this trick on Tom Cruise. I’ve seen that trick in a lot of movies, usually it’s a mobster whacking someone. I actually look into the backseat of my car when getting in ALL THE TIME now because I don’t want some wierdo to kill me with a garrote from behind as I settle in.
But Rachel suprises Deckard with the ol’ backseat trick… in the elevator! That struck me as I watched for the piano playing scene.
So to sum up the next subscene, which is a part of larger scene I will call “Deckard doesn’t talk to women much:Part I” for now, Deckard doesn’t know how to talk to women. He offers Rachel a drink like 3 times, starts drinking himself, and then offends her so much by belittling her and crushing her world and laughing about it, she runs off. Right after she does this Deckard takes his drink (a bourbon or something in a giant tumbler glass) and goes outside on his balcony.
The next shot is one of my favorites in all of film. As Deckard looks down and around off his balcony, drizzling rain, falling water from the overhangs, and glowing hovercars frame an amazing shot of a guy, wrapped up in a blanket, all alone, shielding himself from the world with a drink in hand. One of Vangelsis’ moodiest slow synth blues accompanys this often imitated but never surpassed moody shot.
He then goes to the piano and sits down. He looks at a pastche of old photos and sheet music which is partially obscured by the photos.
The next series of shots is particularly complex. I watched the “Final Cut” version which I guess is Scott’s definitive answer on the various cuts. In this version Deckard is getting drunk, and starts to play piano. He plays a quiet tune that sounds like some early Chopin or something. It’s not super early wether he is reading the music here or not, because :. Spoiler alert:. RACHEL totally does in the next scene I will describe in a bit…
Then he has his unicorn dream while looking kind of spacey. That’s essentially where the scene ends…
So now we contrast this to the scene where Rachel plays. Now remember in the first scene “Deckard Doesn’t Know How to Talk to Women: Part 1”, he drove Rachel off with his quick wit and utter disregard for her feelings.
In this scene “Deckard Still Doesn’t Know How Talk to Women and Might Commit some Minor Rape:. Part 2” we delve into how Rachel plays the piano.
After Rachel saves Deckard’s life, he brings her back his place to thank her. By which I mean get drunk one again and pass out. While he’s sleeping like the most functional of drunks, with a shot in his hand, Rachel starts to look at the pictures that Deckard was looking at earlier. She moves several of them and then there is a shot of her reading the music and trying to play it. This wakes up Deckard who joins her at the piano and starts to play, like a fucked up sci fi verson of the beginning of All in the Family, or the scene in Caddy shack when Chevy Chase is inexplicably trying to seduce an underage girl.
Anyway, it’s pretty obvious, through dialog, that Rachel didn’t know this song until then and in fact her concern is over whether her memories of getting piano playing lessons are real or not.
So in my opinion the piano playing scenes are a well crafted red herring like everything else. You can take it either way. If you are a strict “Deckard is Not A Replicant, I read the book where he passed the Jon Voight Test, Thank You” kind of person, you can read it as a piece of sheet music they both play in his apartment. If you are a die hard “Deckard is a Synth” fan, then I suppose you could read it that it’s implanted in their conscience and therefore that’s why the music is sitting there anyway. The Occam’s Razor of film analysis though, points me to the fact that Scott was using the photos of memories and the piano music to undescore the point of the vanishing difference between humans and replicants.
Finally got to see this on a plane. Enjoyable but I have to say it feels like one of those indie films that obviously ran out of money near the end. I mean the production values and scenes get worse and narrower the further you get into the movie.
Really liked most of the external shots, loved the fish drones. The plot was alright, I did like the “ah ha” moment about the memories of Joe.
Really hated the lame way they turned Wallace from an interesting multidminesional businessman with a god complex into a bond Villan over the course of the movie.
I also thought Harrison Ford was a drag on the movie, I mean it was cute him being involved but it might have been much better without dragging Decker back into it. yeah I know the plot shoe horned Decker & Rachael into it to give the audience context from BR1 but still, this story could have been better told inventing another mother/father combo. We would also have been spared Harrison Fords awful performance and clearly not giving a damn through another movie.
That said I LOVED Ryan Gosling, he played the lack of emotion perfectly, I also thought Ana de Armas was good and Sylvia Hoeks , wow , she had a pretty faultless performance. I dont know if the role was designed for her but she was perfect.
I do hope they make a BR3, offworld. Would watch this again though.