Qt3 Movie Podcast: Blade Runner 2049

I really like that post, @JD.


“I always told you you’re special.”

An excellent decision. :)

So, I loved the movie, but I was super pissed at the ending. I wish I had the reaction most of you did, but I was freaking out on the inside, “No, no, don’t lead them to her! They will know you’re not dead. It will all be for nothing.”

Completely killed any good feelings I could have had about the ending. :(

Not sure if it’s bad form to plug another podcast in this thread, but Danielle’s and Rob’s discussion of the original movie (well, the director’s cut really) on the latest Idle Weekend is really insightful.

Dude, please. I don’t think we have any illusions about ourselves as The One Movie Podcast To Rule Them All. :)


It has certainly improved my viewing experience. Not goin’ back!

But sometimes they force you… like when I showed up too early for Blade Runner 2049 and I was forced to watch again that trailer for Ready Player One featuring Cinematic Game Changer Esteban Spielbergo and the Quest for the Holy Grail of Pop Culture.

Jumping in here without having read the whole thread, but I had to comment on the “movie Ridley Scott intended to make” part.

I don’t think it’s clear that the movie Ridley Scott intended to make had a part about Deckard being a replicant. It certainly wasn’t explicitly stated in the original script, and there’s a lot of evidence that Deckard was in fact NOT a replicant.

After Ridley Scott’s original cut of the movie, the studio asked him to make a few changes to make things clearer for audiences: add the narration, and tack on a happy ending. But there was no unicorn scene in the original cut. That was something that he specifically added on for the Director’s Cut in 1992.

My interpretation is that he was fascinated by the discussions about whether or not Deckard was a replicant, so he decided to add that scene just to make it explicit. And hey, you could argue that “Director’s Cut” means that’s the director’s intention…but then you’d have to accept that Lucas always wanted CGI robots floating everywhere in Star Wars, and Spielberg never wanted the FBI agents to carry rifles… But in the original movie that Ridley Scott made in 1982 (either before or after the studio fixes), there was never a unicorn scene.

And personally, I think the whole “Deckard is a replicant” discussion undercuts the whole point of the movie. It takes a think piece about what it means to be human, and about a human who is more cold and robotic than those he is trying to hunt down, and turns it into a twist-ending movie.

A replicant saving another replicant is expected; a replicant saving a human (especially a human who is trying to hunt them down!) is unexpected.

Hey, you don’t have to take my word for it. Why don’t we ask Ridley Scott?. :)


I understand that in 2007, Ridley Scott always intended for Deckard to be a replicant. Just like in 1997, George Lucas never intended for Han to shoot first. I’m not sure why one is “Finally a director is giving us the vision he originally intended!” and the other is “This director is taking something that he originally made and needlessly tinkering around with it in a way that ruins the original intentions.”

Evidence that Deckard is a replicant:

  • He daydreams about a unicorn (footage from Legend, I believe), and there is an origami unicorn at the end
  • His eyes glow in one scene

Evidence that Deckard is not a replicant:

  • He routinely gets his ass handed to him by other replicants.
  • He does not have any of the physical abilities that the other replicants have, which almost led to his death several times.
  • Tyrell mentions that a new type of replicant was created with memories, to allow them to have normal emotional responses. Deckard is cold and robotic and heartless and cruel. If he is supposed to be this new brand of replicant, why doesn’t he have normal emotional responses?
  • Why would a police force quell fears of replicants by using an untested prototype replicant to hunt them down, especially when that prototype doesn’t demonstrate any extraordinary special skills beyond normal human capabilities?
  • The motto of the Tyrell Corporation is “More Human Than Human.” It’s not “More Cold and Robotic and Kinda Rapey Sometimes”.

And Tom, aren’t you always talking about how the work should stand on its own and ignoring authorial intent? Or am I just imagining that part?

Andy, it’s very simple. There’s one movie that has no indication that Deckard is a replicant. It’s the studio cut originally released to theaters. There’s a second movie that Ridley Scott originally made and later put back together for a director’s cut. In that movie, Deckard is explicitly a replicant. It’s not the least bit ambiguous.

The only confusion comes from people who don’t understand that there are two versions of Blade Runner that each draw different conclusions about the protagonist. :)


(I’m not sure that “studio cut” is the best term to use here, since the theatrical release was still Ridley Scott’s cut of the movie, only with a few changes made at the request of the studio.)

If you want to get technical, there are a few different movies:

Theatrical Workprint:

  • no voiceover
  • no unicorn dream
  • no driving scene at the end

Theatrical Release/Studio Cut:

  • added voiceover
  • no unicorn dream
  • driving scene at the end

Director’s Cut:

  • no voiceover
  • added unicorn dream
  • no driving scene at the end

Again, before the 1992 Director’s Cut, there was never any unicorn dream sequence. It was not in the original script, and it was not in the workprint. And if the studio asked for it to be cut, it’s an odd request, since the other requested changes were all done to clarify things for the audience. If anything, it seems like the studio would WANT that extra clarification in the movie that Deckard is a replicant.

In the original theatrical release, most of the “Is Deckard a replicant?” debate comes from one shot where Deckard’s eyes glow, which was likely just a lighting error that was never caught. But the rest of the movie portrays Deckard as completely flawed and human. It was an interesting fan theory, in a “Wow what if Deckard is really a replicant oh cool!” kind of way, but it was never anything that was explicitly stated by the movie.

It’s more interesting as something to debate about, which is why it’s strange that Ridley Scott came out and said, “Oh yeah, Deckard was always a replicant, didn’t you figure that out already??” To quote Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, “What’s the use of us debating whether God may or may not exist, when this computer comes along and gives us His bleeding phone number?!?”

And tying it back to the new movie, I think it’s similarly vague. Jared Leto says something like, “Isn’t it strange that you met her like that, almost as though you were programmed to meet?” And Deckard replies with, “Whatever. I know what’s real.” So you can take it either way.

Leto follows up his line (I believe) with “That is, if you were programmed at all.”

This contradicts Tom’s quote from Scott, so which is it? It can’t be both, there was a unicorn scene that got cut, or there wasn’t a unicorn scene until much later. I’m pretty cynical about artists explaining the meaning behind their work, I never take that at face value. Deliberately or not it’s very easy to change that story over time to be more modern/interesting/whatever. But it seems like we’ve got a debate over a pretty objective thing here in the case of the unicorn scene, and that largely informs the debate about the meaning.

I think most of us agree that whatever the timeline of events or who’s decision it was, the theatrical release indicates Deckard wasn’t a replicant, the “Final” cut indicates he was, so I think we’re also pretty close to agreeing that the new film nicely manages the trick of working for both interpretations by not being too specific.

Uh, I have no idea what you’re arguing or why, but it sounds like you don’t understand the studio system. You also didn’t seem to read my post. And you’re flat-out wrong about a few things. In other words, just another Tuesday.


Yes, I read your post, where Ridley Scott said that Deckard was always intended to be a replicant. This comment contradicts statements by the screenwriter, who says that Deckard was not intended to be a replicant, and the original workprint, which didn’t have any of the other studio changes, but also didn’t have the unicorn scene.

My argument is that it’s a more interesting movie if you aren’t told one way or another. (And, tangentially, that Ridley Scott tends to revisit his older movies in ways that make them less interesting.)

I don’t think this is necessary.

Which is relevant how? Hampton Fancher didn’t direct Blade Runner.

Okay. But regardless of what you think is interesting, the movie Ridley Scott originally made, and eventually restored, is about a dude who’s a replicant. I wasn’t aware we were having a discussion about whether Andy Bates thinks he can make a more interesting movie than Ridley Scott. I think if we move the discussion forward to everything he’s done after Black Hawk Down, you’ll be on firmer ground. :)

Okay, my bad, that was a dick think to say. My apologies. But, dude, you can be really frustrating to have a discussion with. I’m sure I can, too.


I’m honestly not trying to be frustrating, and maybe I’m just really bad at getting my point across. God knows my wife would agree with you!

I believe that the movie Ridley Scott originally made is about a human who is so detached and bitter that he is more inhuman than the replicants he is hunting, and then a decade later he rethought it and decided to add a new scene to the film.

The reason I brought up the screenwriter and the workprint and the other actors is to provide context for that claim. Obviously Ridley Scott isn’t George Lucas, but there is a precedent for directors to reimagine and reinterpret their earlier works. I just think the evidence leans more on the side of, “Ridley Scott changed his mind after a decade and decided to add a twist.” But I completely understand why you would disagree.

Wait, so now you’re saying Ridley Scott is lying? Or did you just not read his comments? And how do you square that with him shooting footage of a unicorn dream? There is literally nothing else that a unicorn dream would mean other than Gaff knowing Deckard’s dreams are implants. You really don’t have a leg to stand on here, Andy.

That’s fine if you think your movie idea is more interesting – I disagree and think you’re missing the point of noir – but you’re staking a nonsensical claim in a discussion that’s been played out for a very long time. What have you been doing for the last 25 years that you haven’t processed this already?