Qt3 Movie Podcast: Blade Runner 2049


The unicorn footage was filmed when he was scouting out locations for Legend, his next movie. The Legend footage was used when he wanted to add that scene in, just like leftover footage from The Shining was used for the original happy ending.

I’m not saying that Ridley Scott is lying per se, but it’s possible that he reconsidered his original decisions about the movie after a decade.


Uh, okay. Out of curiosity, what’s your source for this? Because a) that’s not how location scouting works, b) the timeline doesn’t square with this theory at all, and c) this book says you’re wrong:

Page 366. Look it up. Or just Google it.

He says the studio cut out unicorn footage, but you’re claiming the footage didn’t even exist until years later. How is that not lying “per se”?



I’m not sure what doesn’t sync about the timeline: From the book, the unicorn footage was one of the last scenes filmed during postproduction, which is around the time when he would be starting on preproduction for his next movie, Legend. And discussions about what scenes to keep or discard can happen before a frame of film is shot.

All I can say is, in the context of the movie, there is evidence that he is a replicant, and there is evidence that he isn’t a replicant. I don’t think you can look at the unicorn scene as unequivocal evidence, but then ignore all the other story elements where Deckard being a replicant would make no sense. But here’s what Hampton Fancher said about the scene when he saw it for the first time:

When I saw the unicorn in the director’s cut, I, I thought of it as a symbol. And that’s the beauty of something that’s good, I guess. You know, you could– It’s ambiguous. And my interpretation had nothing to do with: “Oh, that shows that Deckard’s a Replicant.” I don’t think that anything should show that Deckard’s a Replicant. If you think that, you’re already wrong. You know? I mean, it says, it’s just the question mark is what’s interesting.


I wish we still had the Like button, another instance, like your excellent posts, where I disagree with Tom’s conclusion.

I think the original film clearly played with the ambiguity, the idea that Deckard could be a Replicant, but also could be human. The “proof” of the unicorn dream is hardly conclusive. I’m on board with the argument that Ridley Scott pulled a George Lucas and changed his intent after the fact.


Andy, what’s your source on the unicorn footage being from a Legend location scout?

So Gaff just happened to make a unicorn origami? How is that not conclusive?



From the Dangerous Days documentary on Blade Runner:

Ivor Powell: Towards the end on Blade Runner I know we were thinking about the next movie. And there was this project that we were working on, which was called Legend, affectionately known as Leg End.

Ridley Scott: Behind Penn was this beautiful Black Park.About two and a half thousand acres of great, like, Robin Hood forest. And, erm, we got one of Vic’s horses out there. I always believed he’s gonna come out the trees, gonna gallop down towards me, gonna pass between the two trees, gonna pass right in front of the camera.That’s exactly what he did. He shook his head tried to get the unicorn off, he shook his head right there so it was absolutely perfect.

Ivor Powell: Ridley never, ever kind of divulged what was going on in his mind at that time. And I thought: “Well, we’re just slipping in this little thing which is a little test.” You know, unfortunately, that went on to the, you know, the Blade Runner tab for another film. But Ridley maybe did have something else in his mind. It was something more than a test.


Maybe the unicorn memory was something from Rachel’s file that Deckard and Gaff both looked at. Maybe it was just a coincidence. Or maybe they both saw a fantasy movie together a few weeks earlier, and Gaff wanted to remind him of their close and abiding friendship.

So, what about the rest of the movie, where Deckard is clearly weaker than the replicants he is chasing? Or how he only kills two of them successfully, and is almost killed by the other two? In a world where replicants are illegal and are being hunted, why would the police force bring in another, more advanced replicant to hunt the first ones, especially if the new replicant is more likely to pass for a human? Why would they program a replicant to have doubts about his mission?

To me, all those things combine to make it pretty conclusive that he is human. So if a movie provides contradictory information, I suppose it’s up to each person to choose which parts you want to believe and which you want to ignore.


Coincidence? And again, not really relevant since without the dream (which only appeared after I believe Scott changed his mind), the unicorn origami was just one of many animal origami that Gaff made.

Let’s consider the evidence:


  1. Unicorn origami combined with dream, added in the Director’s Cut
  2. Scene where Deckard’s eyes shine
  3. Ridley Scott, post-Director’s Cut, said Deckard is a Replicant


  1. Deckard does not demonstrate any advanced strength, or reflexes
  2. Deckard is retired when they pull him back in to hunt the Replicants. If he were a Replicant himself, why would the police tolerate him existing at all on Earth?
  3. Harrison Ford played him as a human and was never told otherwise by Ridley Scott during original filming
  4. In the original novel, Deckard was a human


Good find. It’s been debunked, of course, but I just assumed it was a bunch of yahoos on the internet making up stuff. Instead, it was off-hand speculation from this one guy who once worked on a Ridley Scott movie. I’m not sure which is worse.

But regarding the origami unicorn making it clear that Gaff knows what Deckard dreams about:

Hoo boy. :)

As I’ve said many times before, you guys are confusing the important distinction between subtle and ambiguous. And what’s more, you both have to call Ridley Scott a liar to make your cases. That’s just weird to me, especially since there were so many people involved in the process who would have been able to corroborate whether he was lying. You’ve turned a far-fetched interpretation into a conspiracy theory!



just watched 2049 for the second time in an Imax… wow, so many new details I missed the first time!

like when he returns to the tree and where they digged out the box… it was not a shovel dig. It was a hole that was cleanly cut out with some high tech equipment, I liked that very much.
or when Joi picks up the book Pale Fire from Nabokov, but actually just picks up a virtual 3d image of the book and the original stays on the table, because she cannot pick up stuff of course
or the many micro-expressions of Luv, I love that acting of her
I even liked the little Sony tag on the hologram jukebox playing the Sinatra song
or the device used to create memories by Dr. Stelline, it looks like two high quality camera objectives put together, like it is creating picures from within in an recursive feedback loop
and the sound and music are amazing, almost physical…
or the scene between Wallace and Deckard with changing lights on their faces, made it really a beautiful study

this must be really the best SciFi movie from recent years…


How can you have this argument without referencing Future Noir? My copy states that it was filmed as part of the original, then cut… then a discarded version was used for the 92 release when he couldn’t find the cut he wanted.

That said - so what? Scott might have been the loudest voice in the production, but he wasn’t the only one. Future Noir also makes it clear that almost everyone else in the production believed he was human - the script writer, the actor, and the executive producers.


If you want to know if he is human, ask his dog … that was a great line. K asks if the dog is real, and everybody wants to know if Deckard is real.


You mean Ivor Powell, close personal friend of Ridley Scott who worked with him on television commercials, convinced him to direct Alien, and worked as associate producer on Ridley Scott’s first three films, as well as being heavily involved in the financing and script-writing of Blade Runner? I’m glad you were gracious enough to call him “this one guy who once worked on a Ridley Scott movie.”

The net effect of his change (restoration, whatever you want to call it) is that it took something that was ambiguous and turned it into something concrete. In a film that is all about questioning humanity and ultimately deciding that the difference doesn’t really matter, it seems odd that he would place such importance on answering to that question.

Interviewer: "So, can you explain the ending of Inception?"
Christopher Nolan: “It’s intentionally ambiguous, and that’s the point, that the answer doesn’t really matter. The viewer ultimately has to draw her own conclusions, because answering the question is less important than asking the question.”

Interviewer: "So, can you tell me about Bla…"
Ridley Scott: “Deckard is a replicant. Sorry, did I cut you off? That’s what you were going to ask, right?? Yeah, he’s definitely a replicant. If you don’t get that, then you’re a moron!”


Andy, if the only source for your theory that Ridley Scott is lying is an offhand comment from someone who hasn’t worked in the business since Blade Runner – you must know that since you seem to have scraped his IMDB page – I’m going to stand by my comment that you’re in conspiracy theory territory.

And as you pointed out earlier, I’m not terribly interested in authorial intent, so it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other. Because the movie Ridley Scott made and eventually restored is about a guy who’s a replicant. It’s in the movie plain as day, it fits thematically with the genre, and the guy who made the movie has said as much. I have no idea why you’re trying to argue otherwise.

But I am glad you brought up Inception! As I’ve said on the podcast a couple of times, that’s the perfect illustration of the difference between ambiguity and subtlety. Inception is ambiguous. Blade Runner is subtle. The difference is kind of important.



I cited it upthread!



“Do you like our bees?”



Since the source is Ridley Scott’s producer and personal friend who worked with him on multiple movies, it seems like a pretty reliable source, especially since Ridley Scott also talked about the very same location scouting in the same documentary. But ultimately it’s a minor point.

(I still don’t get why Deckard being a replicant fits “thematically with the genre.” I have seen a lot of films noir, and I would estimate that only 20 to 25% end with the main character being a replicant.)

Because as Ephraim pointed out up above (and he and I are not the first people to argue this, not by a long shot), there is plenty of evidence in the movie to support the claim that he is human. Part of the reason this debate has gone on for so long is because there is evidence on both sides.

If you just look at the unicorn dream and the origami, then sure, you can conclude that he is a replicant. But if you look at the logic of the story, what would be the point of bringing in a surly, angry, rebellious replicant to hunt down other replicants, especially when he is physically weaker than them and almost gets killed twice? And if you want him to believe he’s human, why send him over to Tyrell who immediately explains the concept of advanced replicants who are implanted with memories? Wouldn’t that raise suspicions about his own humanity?

The movie seems to be structured around Deckard as a human, not Deckard as a replicant. And the reason I brought it up (as people have for decades) is because I think it’s an interesting discussion. And if it were actually a settled point, as you claim it is, it seems like the new movie would have just stated that he is a replicant.


No. You can’t.

It’s no more dispositive than me saying the lack of a dream about a chicken…

…or the lack of a dream about a skinny guy with a boner…

…means he’s not. The unicorn silliness isn’t going to prove anything. It’s up for interpretation. As is the sheep in the new movie.

Anybody who listens to Ridley Scott talk about his movies–and I’ve said this many times in referencing the DVD commentary to the Best Picture Gladiator–knows he has no idea what makes his movies good, or bad. We’ve increasingly discovered that over the years as he retroactively tried to explain to us what Alien was about. It’s best to look at the story as a whole.

I’ve never believed Deckard was a replicant. I’ve had this discussion with Tom for years. Neither of us have moved, and that’s okay. In fact, I think it adds a certain richness to the experience of watching the movie. I don’t think the unicorn is a useful argument. I think all the pictures on the piano are a better argument, as is his fumbling about with Rachel. But I still don’t believe it for a lot of reasons, but the main one is…

I don’t think Roy believes it. That is to say, Roy treats him as a human. And saves him as a human. And thus fulfills all that Christ imagery at the end. This is in contrast to how Sapper reacts to K, but that can be explained away based on Nexus model numbers I guess. Regardless, I choose the maker/christ/humanity imagery over the unicorn, because I think it makes more sense for the character and the story.

One of the things I do love about this is how it calls to mind the cutting scene in Ex Machina, and how Villeneuve and Fancher play off the unanswered question in building K’s character, rather than simply resolving it the moment we meet Deckard again. I like that and I think it is clever. It says to me that they looked at the debate and sat down and thought, “How can we use this to our advantage?” This excites me.

That dopey dream of the running unicorn with his silly floppy horn does nothing for me. I’m much more curious about the matchstick boner dude dream Deckard must have had that they decided not to show us.


“I was quick when I come in here, Bryant. I’m twice as quick now.”


If Deckard is a human, he has an arc, and his story makes sense.

I agree that the Director’s Cut/Final Cut makes it pretty clear that that he’s a replicant. I also think it’s a story decision made by the visionary filmmaker who gave us Prometheus.


isn’t it still a classical film noir in the tradition of Chandler/Hammet?

Detective hired to investigate some mystery, check
World is totally rotten, check
Mysterious woman who he falls in love, check
Detective gets beat up a lot, check,
Detective loses all his illusions of the world (if he still had them), check
Detective is an outsider, check
At the end the world is not a better place, uncheck (not sure, at least he reunited father/daughter), but he’s dead so, check

so they stayed in the genre (like original blade runner) …