This last weekend I met some friends for lunch. Over a fantastic afternoon, one of the topics that came up for discussion was the movie “Blade Runner 2049“, starring Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford.
This led to the supremely important question from the original movie: Is Deckard (Harrison Ford’s Character) a Replicant?
In narrow, simplistic terms: yes, yes he is. But – it’s just a tad more complex than that.
Before we dive in to the complexity, however, here’s a brief explanation – and proof – that the above statement is at least partially true. In a televised interview, made after the release of BR2049, Ridley Scott explicitly confirms that the “movie version” of Deckard is a Replicant.
He explains that in the middle of the film there is a scene in which Deckard sits at a piano, in his apartment, where he dreams. The dream sequence is of a verdant, grassy meadow with a unicorn galloping gently towards the camera.
Then, in the closing scene of the film, where Deckard is “escaping” with Rachael, we see him scout the way as he escorts her to the elevator in his apartment building. He turns back to check that they are alone and spots a tiny origami unicorn, placed on the floor just outside Deckard’s apartment. At that moment we hear Gaff (the always-awesome Edward James Olmos) calling out as if from a distance, “It’s a pity she won’t live!”
The first scene mentioned here clearly shows the view that Deckard is experiencing a dream. The second also shows us that Gaff knows the content of the dream and has found a way to let Deckard “know that he knows”. Obviously, the only way that Gaff could know about Deckard’s dream would be if Deckard were a Replicant. Earlier in the movie the viewer is given another example of this – when Deckard applies the Voight-Kampf test to Rachael, they discuss her dream about the spiders – a “memory” implanted in Rachael but which Deckard had been briefed on. The unicorn dream is the same approach applied to Deckard and Gaff. Given the perceived threat of rogue Replicants, it’s conceivable that Gaff would at some point have been asked to “retire” Deckard – the origami unicorn at the apartment was Gaff’s way of saying, “Get out of here – scram – I’m not going to ‘retire’ you…”
All of which – but in particular Ridley’s comments in the linked YouTube clip, give us a very definitive answer – for the movies. However, that’s not the whole story.
Blade Runner itself [the original] was based on a book, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, by Philip K. Dick. In the book, at least, this question was never definitively resolved. The origami we see in the film was a device added to the story, by Scott, with the specific intention of answering this question – but in a really subtle way.
I am still searching for a quotation from Philip K. Dick on the subject and will update this post if I find one I can link to.
Was Deckard a Replicant or a human? Yes, he was definitely one of those.