Early in the 21st century, the Tyrell Corporation advanced robot evolution into the Nexus phase – a synthetic being virtually identical to a human – known as a Replicant.
The Nexus 6 Replicants were superior in strength and agility, and at least equal in intelligence, to the genetic engineers who created them.
Replicants were used Off-World as slave labour, in the hazardous exploration and colonisation of other planets.
After a bloody mutiny by a Nexus 6 combat team in an Off-World colony, Replicants were declared illegal on earth – under penalty of death.
Special police squads – ‘Blade Runner’ units – had orders to shoot to kill, upon detection, any trespassing Replicant. This was not called execution. It was called retirement.
One such Blade Runner, former lawman Rick Deckard, tracks down Replicants in the Los Angeles of 2019.
The concept is that the Replicants don’t even know they aren’t real humans and that their memories aren’t their own but programmed.
This Ridley Scott film was based on the Philip Dick novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and presented a glittering, shiny yet grimy version of a future Los Angeles.
It also provided one of the best death scenes in motion picture history when Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty curls up his robot toes;
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in the rain . . . Time to die”
A stunningly beautiful, intelligent and action-packed movie, which has often been imitated but never replicated (pardon the pun) or bettered, and which has become almost as influential as the 1940’s films it borrows from.
Even if you don’t dig the existentialist undercurrents you can’t help but marvel at the intricate production design, and the rendering of a world so tangible that you live the film as you watch it.
The $28 million movie was not well-received on its original release and was a financial flop. Only after the Director’s Cut version was released in 1992 did critics and audiences fully embrace it.
The Director’s Cut had added scenes, and left out Harrison Ford’s voice-over narration, along with the feel-good ending originally imposed by the studio.
If Deckard is a Replicant as Ridley Scott claims he is, how come he’s working for the police when Replicants are illegal on Earth? And why does he have bad memories of quitting the force in disgust? And why isn’t he as strong as Batty, Pris and co?
Then again, if he is a human as Harrison Ford claims he is, why do his eyes glow? Why does he share the Replicants habits? and why is there all that unicorn guff in the director’s cut?
Can open, worms everywhere!
Edward James Olmos