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.