Sunday, February 27, 2011


This video pertains to the comment I left for Kasey's post about Rachel, but I discuss Gaff in my post.


In Blade Runner, the difference between humans and androids is minute. The androids have a shelf life of four years, after that they are removed from existence. They have served their owners and succeeded in completing/working on a project. Their existence is centered on their ability to work as slave labor and have an expiration date to avoid the disastrous consequences that befell other science fiction characters. But the differences between human and machine are played out in Blade Runner. If emotions and memories can be manipulated and constructed, where does the distinction fall? These robots have memories that to them seem as real as our own. They have emotional responses to stimuli around them. And they have an expiration date, just like humans. This idea has implications for the director's interpretation of human life. The robots have a predestined, predetermined life span that is unyielding and controlled. They understand their limitations and live out their existence accordingly. Most of us believe that our lives are totally controlled by our own actions. We typically reject the notion that a creator, even before we have lived our life, has determined a day and time of our demise. That we live our life to work for an ultimate goal, and when we are no longer useful or have completed our job, our time on Earth is up. This is a simplified version and summary of determinism, which claims that all of time has been predestined and that we have no control over our lives. This is the life of the machine in Blade Runner, which clearly serves as a metaphor for the lives of humans.

Final Scene of Blade Runner

This is my response to Kaitlin Pendley's posting. I put it in a new post so I could post a video.

I personally don't think this voice-over does this scene any justice. It clears up the ambivalence but does so a little too much. I imagine Ridley Scott intended the film to be ambiguous and the voice-overs take away that element. So, I agree with you that the voice-overs seem to be geared toward an unperceptive audience. I think this scene is powerful enough in itself. The emotion-driven staring contest and heart-to-heart spills do enough to illustrate what you point out as the "commonalities between humans and replicants." Here's the version I prefer. Around 1:50 in this video, you see the screen fade form a close-up on Deckard's face to a close up on Roy's. I think this is a very blunt illustration of the sameness of Deckard and Roy despite their being either humans or replicants.

Well, I can't get the video to work for some reason but here's the link:

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Roy's Last Speech- Original Cut, poor quality video

Call me crazy, but while I have enjoyed all versions of Blade Runner, this voiceover explaining Roy's death was always very touching. So I won't keep beating a dead horse, and while I do agree that in parts the voiceover seems to explain things to a dumb, or very unperceptive audience- I do believe that in parts the voiceover also elucidates the sympathy Deckard feels for the replicants, not just Rachel- something which his character cannot fully convey in the other version. It makes the strong comparison between humanity and replicants facing the same unknowns, getting closer to death with each moment (this is something we touched upon in class- the commonalities between humans and replicants).

As a side note, where would we be without Youtube? ;) And p.s. the original cut is available on Netflix Instant for anyone interested!

Theatrical Ending

Memory & Empathy in Blade Runner

Amid the multiple themes present in Blade Runner, from the environmental to the corporations, I find the concepts of memory and empathy to be the most interesting. Here is a world where the "fake" humans are more human that the actual humans. Why is it that empathy has become outdated almost in this world of 2019? By implanting doubt in the viewer's mind about whether or not Deckard is human himself, brings to light the fact that humans are losing their humanity in this new corporate world.

Rachel is so confident that her memories are her own that the news they were made up, implanted is almost hard to even believe. Our lives are completely made up by the memories we store and cherish, and for most people they are valuable beyond anything else. When a person loses their memory in an accident, for example, they almost lose their entire identity and become a completely different person. While it is true, as the film implies, that empathy is at the heart of a person's humanity, I feel that memories also play an enormous role in determining a person's identity and their "humanity".

Blade Runner-sympathy for replicants?

In Blade Runner, the replicants are supposed to be almost genetically identical to humans, except lacking emotions. Throughout the movie, it developed that replicants could learn emotions over time, which they would do by observing and interacting with others. At the beginning of the movie, I thought it was easy to differentiate between replicants and humans, but as the movie progressed I found it more difficult. I was initially frustrated with this ambiguity because I wanted to see distinct differences in order to make a judgment and determine the true protagonist of the story. However, it became a struggle to do this because we were supposed to side with the humans and agree that "retiring" replicants was most beneficial to this modern world. The final scenes between Roy and Rick actually destroy my initial sympathies and generate an ambiguous feeling towards both humans and replicants. I desperately wanted the distinction between human and nonhuman, genetically engineered form, that I initially missed the point until further reflection.

I realized the beauty of the final scenes and the similarities between humans and replicants. They both are able to express emotion, have a desire for free will, and are afraid of their imminent death. This similarity showed me that maybe I should have some sympathy for the replicants, which was a deliberate attempt at the end of the movie. Since I thought that Rick was going to be the ultimate protagonist, I was pleasantly surprised by the ending, which, in retrospect, makes you think about the fragility of life and need to better yourself throughout that life. I also think the timeline of showing increasing similarities between humans and the replicants as the movie progressed was an efficient tool in putting emotion into a sci fi movie. I think the progression from Leon to Rachel to Roy, who had an emotional breakthrough in the final scene, forced me to develop sympathy for the replicants' struggle.

I also want to specifically address the role of emotion throughout the movie. It reminds me of "The Giver", which may be a very simplistic correlation, but it expresses the need for emotion. The greatest difference between humans and all other organisms is our ability to express a variety of very complex emotions. It seems bazaar to me that genetically engineered organisms could have emotions, but I do understand how replicants develop emotions. This is actually very true of humans too. We are born with the ability to have emotions, but humans learn through observation about different types of emotions and in what settings those emotions are warranted. This further connects humans and replicants. I also think emotion is an essential theme of the film because a society lacking in emotions or oppressing emotions is boring and incapable of growth. In the movie, the replicants represent a race without extreme emotions and by the end the desperate need to fulfill an emotional void overcomes them, especially Roy. This further shows the need for emotions, which was also discovered in "The Giver". Overall, as the movie progresses the story converges humans and replicants to a point where they are almost indistinguishable, which invokes sympathy for the replicants and shows the importance of emotion.

Blade Runner Ethics

When I saw this movie I thought about the ethics of modern day genetics and stem-cell research. Even though this movie was made a long time ago, there must have been some genetic research going on such as manufacturing animals by genetics. I compared the replicants to these genetic animals, as they often have short lives and are used for experimentation. These new-model replicants seem to contain feelings of emotion and sympathy for each other and are trying to prolong their life because of the fear of death and lost memories. At the end when Roy says he has "seen many things you people wouldn't believe" I think he believes that he doesn't deserve to die because of all the experiences that he has been through, but then he realizes that in the end, every memory will fade with time just as life will fade. I compare this to animal research because I don't think it is right to create something that contains feelings of emotions and are capable of living because of the limited time they have. If I put myself in the replicants' situation, I would have done the same thing to escape and travel to earth to try and prolong my life. I think almost everyone would rank death up there in the top things people are afraid of so these replicants probably found out that they were androids and were going to die soon, so they did as much as possible to live longer, or died trying. I thought that these androids were not "bad", they were just like any other living organism as they were forced to do deeds to survive and prolong their life. If the citizens or creators wanted them to not be so rebellious, they should not have made these androids with human emotions and the capabilities of thinking so abstractly about life. This movie also reminded me a lot of I.Robot because of the similarities between these service robots and their artificial intelligence and how Sonny could feel emotion. In all, I feel like the final cut used a lot of complex thoughts on the ambiguity of replicants versus humans as we finally figure out Deckerd is a replicant. Yet, I always wondered why if he was a replicant, why he was not as strong as the other replicants. Maybe he was some new breed of replicant where he was actually part human and part android?


I found Rachel to be the most complex and interesting character in the film. The fact that we identify her as a multifaceted character is ironic because she is a Replicant which suggests that she is incapable of emotion or being truly “human.” As the subject of an experiment conducted by the Tyrell Corporation, Rachel is a “new model” of Replicant and believes that she is human. She has also been implanted with false memories from her non-existent past. The experiment seems to be continued as Rick exposes the Corporation’s scheme to Rachel and she realizes that she is, in fact, not human. Upon this realization, Rachel appears to be confused and upset, though we do not know how deep her emotions extend.

Because I watched the theatrical version and not the director’s cut, I saw the alternate ending where Rachel and Rick drive off together into a scenic landscape. I was a fan of this ending because I like happy rom com-esque endings, but it presented me with even more questions about Rachel’s emotional capacity. Does she love Rick? We know that Replicants are capable of developing emotions, but will always be emotionally stunted because of their short lifespan. So, could Rachel, a Replicant, experience love, presumably the most powerful human emotion? As a next generation Replicant, Rachel has no expiration date, so maybe there is the possibility that she will be able to develop these feelings toward Rick.

Yes, I liked the corny voice overs as well.

Blade Runner- Two thumbs up

Blade Runner is my favorite film of the semester. I appreciated the spin taken on what I would think a typical film noir. The futuristic elements that composed the setting created the ideal dark, mechanical, and futuristic world. I enjoyed Rachel's part, and how her questionable mortality affected her role as the film noir femme fatale. Because her character was ambiguous and in danger of being killed, she was not quite the devious stereotype of her character, like Patricia Arquette was in The Lost Highway. She seemed quite sensitive and compassionate, which made her title as the femme fatale only fitting because Harrison Ford quite literally risked his life and job to keep her alive and run away with her. I feel that her character served to exhibit the differences between the various replicates, further explaining their capabilities to be completely different from one another.

I also thought the movie to comment upon the question of what it really meant to be human. We as viewers never really know if Harrison Ford is a replicate or a human, and he seems not to have many advantages at all, if he is human, other than the fact that he isn't being hunted. I feel that the movie serves to question whether humans really are the most dominant life forms. The replicates made by the humans come back to Earth, prepared to take any pains to have their lifespans increased. They seem, all in all, to be more intelligent, clever, and much more cunning than the humans are, which could symbolize that humans aren't even fully aware of the consequences and capabilities of things they create.

Women and Nudity - Ghost in the Shell

Lately I've noticed this trend of women being used as sexual tools in almost every movie we have watched so far this semester. From Alien where Ripley is shown in her underwear with a little too much skin showing to Invasion of the Body Snatchers where Becky is wearing a dress that need not be worn in certain scenes of the movie to finally Veronica's naked body in The Hour of the Wolf, we have seen women used as sexual attention grabbers and items in places where they were not needed and could have been omitted.

Now we have this Japanese animated film Ghost in the Shell where the main character, Kusanagi is often naked throughout the series. The creators of the film make an effort to pan her naked body over and over again as if the viewers need to be reminded of what a naked woman looks like.

I understand the premise of her trying to be like a ghost and such, but why must she be the one without a shirt on her back? The criminal they were trying to catch was running around fully clothed and was still in this ghostly state under his magic cloak. Why was he not naked like Kusanagi was? Why did the film makers feel like it was necessary to unclothe her and keep the other men in the movie fully dressed? Is this the easiest way for women to fight crime in Japan?

Women in the films we have viewed so far always seem to be the target of some sort of sexual fantasy or desire and I do not understand why this has to the case. Maybe its the genre of science fiction that likes women displayed this way so that when the men figure out exactly what is going on, they can save the women from becoming victims. Science fiction needs to find a way to equalize the status of men and women in movies and not use the curves of a women for their own personal fantasy.

The Many Different Faces of the Android

We have now been faced with three distinctly different versions of the android at this point, and each seems to be used for completely different purposes. Further, their potential lives outside of their function seem to be limited in different ways. First, we were shown Ash in Alien who seemed to be more like what you would think of as a typical robot. He could pass as a human physically but there always seemed to be something off about him throughout the movie. He seemed completely emotionless even in the face of danger. When his true purpose was revealed, he was also incapable of deviating from his given directions, no matter the cost to the crew. He had no real interest in anything outside of his programmed purpose and never questioned anything.

The androids in Blade Runner were nothing like Ash, however. They were pretty much indistinct from humans except for memories that could be created artificially and superhuman abilities that were unique to each design. Unlike Ash who never questioned order, it seems like all the replicants every did was ponder their own existence. While the world of Alien presents androids as beings completely distinct from humans, Blade Runner presents such humanized robots that it causes us to question what it means to be human when faced with them.

Finally, the androids in Ghost in the Shell reveal a representation of androids that is somewhere in between the other two. Though we haven't seen the whole movie yet and I can't be sure where it it going so far, the main android (I can't remember her name) seems to have some free will and strangely limited human emotions. She feels no shame about walking around naked, but yet also feels sympathy for the man that had been implanted with false memories. She is also very aware of her place in the world as an android and has not visibly questioned this yet. This is an odd blend of characteristics for an android and I'm interested to see what the purpose is.

Rick Deckard

While doing a little extra reading about Blade Runner I came across some interesting information about the casting for the film. Apparently Harrison Ford was not one of the first choices to play the lead role of Rick Deckard. Initially it was thought that Robert Mitchum would play Deckard in the film and parts for the character were written with that in mind. The next in line for the role was Dustin Hoffman but the film’s producers and Ridley Scott could not come to terms with Hoffman after months of discussion. Other actors considered for the role included Bert Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sean Connery, Gene Hackman, Al Pacino and others. I also found it very interesting that Harrison Ford also did not like the voiceover that was in the theatrical version of the movie. When asked about the things he remembered the most about shooting the film Ford stated “I was still obliged to work for these clowns that came in writing one bad voiceover after another”. It was mentioned in class that one of the main reasons that Scott released the director’s cut of the film.

There was also discussion in class as to whether Decker was a replicant or a human. Scott has stated that his intentions were to have Deckard portrayed as a replicant while Harrison Ford wanted him to be a human. This ambiguity of Deckard’s true existence coincides perfectly with the actual replicants in the film. There are very minute differences between them and real humans and it seems that the replicants seem to becoming more and more like humans as they begin to exhibit emotion. This uncertainty allows the audience to evaluate Deckard for themselves and come to their own conclusions.

Human vs. Replicants

One of the main themes in Blade Runner was the ambiguity between humans and replicants. There were many times in the movie where the line between the two was very blurred. I thought it was interesting that the "bad guys" in the movie were the replicants while the police and Deckard seemed to be the good guys. It was asked in class if anybody had sympathy for the replicants which I hadn't really considered before. But after thinking about it, the humans appear to be just as wrong or evil as the replicants. After all, the humans designed the replicants to be slaves in the offworld colonies. Everyone would agree one human enslaving another is inherently wrong, so I don't understand why the replicants are so human. Not only were they made to look human, but their designers also implanted memories in some to try to make them act and feel as humans. To me, this is an evil and unnecessary act in itself. Slavery is a dehumanizing institution, so the humans are at fault for trying to make their slaves seem as human as possible. Not only this, but if the slaves try to escape then they are executed, which is called retirement. This is a euphemism which just further dehumanizes the very slaves they are trying to make more and more human. In this sense, the replicants are justified in their attacks on humans in my mind.

I guess the point of my rambling defense of the replicants is that just like the lines of human and replicant are blurred in the movie, so are the lines between good and evil. Although the four replicants are portrayed as pure evil throughout the movie, the actions of the humans are equally reprehensible. This is could be further evidence towards the argument that there is no real difference between humans and replicants, other than lifespan of course.

Humans vs. Replicants in Blade Runner

            In class, I thought Kristen brought up a great point when we were discussing Blade Runner. If the replicants are such a threat to the human population, why is it so difficult to tell the difference between the two? Like her, I just didn’t understand why it mattered as much to rid the earth of them if they feel, think, even bleed just like humans do. Especially in the debate about whether or not Deckard is a human, I started thinking about if it really mattered or not. If Deckard needed Gaff to tell him he was a replicant by leaving the origami unicorn (and likewise if Rachel needed Deckard to tell her she was a replicant) and if humans can’t tell immediately, does it really matter? I just didn’t see the threat of the replicants other than their creepy ability to put their hand in boiling water or put their head through a wall. I guess my point is: if the characters don’t know, and we the audience don’t know who is replicant or human, is the difference even important?
            Why would Ridley Scott make these androids so similar to the humans? Unlike Alien, the “bad guys” don’t seem all that bad to me. Are we all just clones of each other without even knowing it? Scary thought, but would it really matter if we were—would it change the way you feel about yourself?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Blade Runner/ Ghost in the Shell

I mentioned in class that “Blade Runner” reminds me of the newer version of “Repo-man” I watched a few months ago. “Repo-man” is about a guy that goes around and retaining organs that people are loaned and have not paid for on time. He doesn’t really have much remorse for killing all the people because he has a quota to fill and debt to be paid. I feel like the movie plays on the discussion we had in class about how corporations don’t really see us as individual people, but more or less as numbers- or a statistic. This also reminds me of our PID numbers and how UNC would send out emails right after I got accepted in high school with slogans saying things like, “I AM MORE THAN JUST A NUMBER.” But it’s true. I also feel that there are at least some comparisons between “Blade Runner” and “The Invasion of the Body Snatchers” in terms of emotions. They aliens/changed people in “Body Snatchers” lacked emotion when they were transformed, while in “Blade Runner”, the replicants were able to develop their own emotions over the 4 years of their existence. I think this shows how important emotions, memories, and empathy are to human personality, and without it- we would not exhibit any individualism (duh). But it was almost cruel to instill the replicants with false memories and such, which brings me to our current film “Ghost in the Shell.” We’ve already seen in the first 45 minutes that the garbage collector man had false memories implanted into his brain.

I’m really excited to watch the rest of this movie though and see where it goes. It looks pretty interesting thus far.

Blade Runner & Eyes

Blade Runner has many interesting elements that touch on the ideas of humanity, replication, and the future. We follow Deckard throughout the film as he is on the quest to kill replicants that have illegally escaped to earth in hopes of prolonging their lives. Throughout the film, eyesight seems to be central to identification. In the beginning of the film we see the questioning a replicant, accompanied by a monitor that analyzes eyes to determine whether or not the individual was a replicant. Eyes come into play later in the film as well, when Roy finds Sebastian, the man who created his eyes. Our eyes are essential—we gather information through our eyes, and we form visual memories with our eyes, but our eyes also reveal a lot about us. Our eyes are one of the most intricate parts of our bodies and have the capacity to reveal a lot about our emotions. I thought it was interesting that eyes were the only way to determine whether someone was human or a replicant. It seemed to be the only factor differentiating the replicants from human beings. Yet, with more advanced replicants like Rachel, it is still difficult to determine.