Sunday, February 27, 2011
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Friday, February 25, 2011
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 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.