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Transposed with great love by me JUNE 28, 1997 


An exerpt from Paul M. Sammon's FUTURE NOIR: The Making Of BLADE RUNNER. One of the best books about Blade Runner I have ever seen.

If the abrupt inclusion of a galloping unicorn into Blade Runner was puzzling to some viewers, then the idea that Deckard might be a replicant- a notion the climax of the Director's Cut underlines more forcefully than any other version of Blade Runner- was even more difficult for people to accept. Indeed, this twist ending seems to engender more passionate debate than any other aspect of the film. And it's not only casual viewers who reject the Director's Cut insistence that Deckard is a replicant; many of the film's makers also shy away from the concept.

But why? A simplistic explanation would be that audiences don't like their movie heroes being revealed as something less than human-- no identification value, you see. Yet Blade Runner's audience, in the main, is anything but simplistic. Consequently, BR fans who don't like the idea of Deckard being a replicant usually choose to state their objection in moral terms: what's the point of Deckard's spiritual awakening, they will ask, if Blade Runner's android hunter turns out to be an android himself?

Ridley Scott has some interesting responses to that question, as evidenced near the end of his interview in appendix A. Before the Future Noir reader incorrectly assumes that Scott alone was responsible for the Deckard-as-replicant concept, however, it should be noted that author Pilip K. Dick had already toyed with this idea in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (when the novelistic Deckard suddenly finds himself under arrest in a strange police station, where he's confronted by a bogus investigator who suspects Deckard as an android). Further-more, the cinematic notion of Deckard as a replicant originated with screenwriter Hampton Fancher.

"The idea of deckard really being an android sort of invented itself," Fancher recalls. "In the final version of the screenplay I wrote before David Peoples stepped in--which I'm not sure he ever saw--I'd ended the film with Deckard coming back home and sitting down at his piano. There was a close-up of Deckard's hand going down toward the keys...and suddenly his hand cramped up, just like Batty's did. You weren't sure it was the same thing, but it looked an awful lot like a replicant clench. Then the image froze, the music came up, and that was it. the end. The last shot in the picture.

"I wanted the audience to walk away thinking, 'Is Deckard like Batty?' That was my whole point in creating this ending in the first place. The idea was supposed to be, take your own empathy test. Constantly monitor your emotional temperature. See how human you really are, because we can always be better at being human. It was a philosophical challenge, really. That's all the notion of Deckard being a replicant originally meant to me."

After David Peoples began his BR writing chores, however, Fancher's initial concept concerning Deckard's true humanity under-went a mutation--and a misunderstanding.

"In the ending I wrote for my first draft of December 15, 1980," Peoples himself explains, "Deckard kills Gaff because Gaff tried to terminate Rachael. Then Deckard takes Rachael to the beach--and he kills her, too. Next he returns to his apartment. Now he's sitiing in his bedroom laying out ammunition for his gun, because Deckard knows that someone from the police department is going to come to his apartment and try and shoot him for murdering Gaff.

"At this point I invented a kind of contemplative voice-over for Deckard. Here, let me read it to you [Peoples now quotes from his December 15, 1980 script]:

"'I wonder who designs the ones like me... and what choices we really have. I wondered if I had really loved her. I wondered which of my memories were real and which belonged to someone else. The great Tyrell hadn't designed me, but whoever had hadn't done so much better. "You're programmed, too," she told me, and she was right. In my own modest way I was a combat model. Roy Batty was my later brother.'

"Now, what I'd intended with this voice-over was mostly metaphysical," People's continues. "Deckard was supposed to be philisophically questioning himself about what it was that made him so different from Rachael and the other replicants. He was supposed to be realizing that, on the human level, they weren't so different. That Deckard wanted the same things the replicants did. The 'maker' he was refering to wasn't literally Tyrell, either. It was supposed to be God. So basically, Deckard was just musing about what it meant to be human.

"But then Ridley--" People says, laughing "--well, I think Ridley misinterpreted me. Because right about this period of time he started announcing, 'Ah-ha! Deckard's a replicant! What brilliance! How Heavy Metal!' I was sort of confused by this response, because Ridley kept giving me all this praise and credit for this terrific idea. It wasn't until many years later, when I happened to be browsing through this draft, that I suddenly realized the metaphysical material I had written could just as easily have been read to imply that Deckard was a replicant. Even though it wasn't what I meant at all. What I had meant was, we all have a maker, and we all have an incept date. We just can't address them. That's one of the similarities we had to the replicants. We couldn't go find Tyrell, but tyrell was up there somewhere. for all of us.

"So what I had intended as kind of a metaphysical speculation, Ridley had read differently, but I now realize there was nothing wrong with his reading. That confusion was my own fault. I'd written this voice-over so ambiguously that it could indeed have meant exactly what Ridley took it to mean. And that, I think, is how the whole idea of Deckard being a replicant came about.

"On the other hand," Peoples' concludes, "while I may have accidentally initiated or inherited this suggestion of Deckard's android nature, it quickly became Ridley's, because he's the one who picked up the idea and ran with it."

One scene in which Scott ran with Peoples' idea involved staging a scene where Harrison Ford's eyes are seen to glow, just like the replicants'. It is a moment however, that still seems to annoy or puzzle some of the major Blade Runner participants.

"In my script, it was much more ambiguous whether Ford was a replicant or not," points out Hampton Fancher. "I wanted people to only think as an after thought that maybe Deckard was an android. I fought very hard for that. But when I finally caught the film and saw how Ridley had made the replicants' eyes glow, and then you saw Ford's eyes glow, I thought, 'Aw, shit.' That device made explicit what I'd wanted to be ambivalent. I didn't like the glowing eye effect, either--it was too obvious. I found it vampiric, almost a B-movie trick."

"I never understood why Ridley wanted Harrison to have those glowing eyes," Katy Haber adds. "I always thought that was a very weird red herring. Besides, Harrison definitely didn't want to be a replicant."

In point of fact, Ford actively resisted the idea--being revealed as a replicant at the end of the film was, in the actor's estimation, almost as wrong headed a decision as Deckard's narration. "The biggest problem [I had with Blade Runner] the end," Ford was quoted as saying in Lance Loud's October 1992 BR/Details magazine piece. "[Ridley] wanted the audience to find out Deckard was a replicant. I fought that because I felt the audience somebody to cheer for."

"I never thought Deckard was a replicant, either," continues Michael Deeley. "That was just a bit of bullshit, a little extra layer Ridley put in. Also an obfuscation. Not only did I never believe Deckard was a replicant, I also thought it futile to try and make him one. Harrison resisted the idea, too. But that was Ridley's pet theory, even if it didn't make sense. Why would you do that? Deckard would be the first replicant you'd knock off if you were getting rid of them. Anyway, just because you say,'Wouldn.t it be funny if Deckard was an android?' doesn't necessarily make it so."

Deeley has a most unexpected ally in his point of view: Bud Yorkin. "Is he or isn't he a replicant? You can't cheat an audience that way," Yorkin is quoted as saying in Kenneth Turan's 1992 Los Angeles Times Magazine "Blade Runner 2" article. "It's another confusing moment."

Confusing or not, the Director's Cut's revelation regarding Deckard's inhumanity was a story point Ridley Scott had been tinkering with long before 1992. "There was an ongoing conversation durring the filming of Blade Runner about Deckard being a replicant," recalls Terry Rawlings. "And it's a concept I have no trouble with. It's only logical, really. For instance, why would Olmos leave this tinfoil unicorn in Deckard's apartment, unless it was a clue that he knew Deckard's memories had been implanted?

"Besides, Ridley and I had many concrete conversations during the editing of BR as to how to best suggest him being an android. One nice way was the scene of Deckard's eyes glowing, when harrison's at the doorway of his kitchen behind Sean Young. Ridley had blocked that out wery carefully; he purposefully put Harrison in the back ground of the shot, and slightly out of focus so that you'd only notice his eyes were glowing if you were paying attention. I love that--it's subtle. It was meant to be subtle. I don't think Ridley ever wanted to bring out a troupe of dancing bears holding up neon signs reading 'Deckard is a replicant!' Instead, he was going for something more ambiguous. Ridley himself may have definitely felt that Deckard was a replicant, but still, by the end of the picture, he intended to leave it up to the viewer to decide whether deckard was one."

Despite Rawlings' final assertion, however, knowing that Scott intentionally meant Deckard to be a replicant certainly casts a new light on a number of Blade Runner sequences that previously may have seemed cut and dried. For example, with BRDC's exclusion of the theatrical version's happy ending and it's emphasis that Deckard is a replicant, we can now only assume that both Young and Ford have been cursed with a replicant's limited four-year lifespan--meaning that their time together will be very short. Also, following Rachael's V-K test, Tyrell's amused reaction to deckard's astonished realization that the replicants have been endowed with artificial memories gains added sinister significance--if Tyrell is aware that deckard is a replicant with false memories himself. And Gaff's line to deckard on the rooftop at the end of the picture--"You've done a man's job, sir"--takes on an ironic double meaning in the BRDC.

Despite all the preceding evidence which this author has presented, however, there will always be those who resist the idea of Rick Deckard being a replicant. These naysayers will find such a concept illogical, or one that robs Blade Runner of its hero's affected human dimension. In response, I can only say that that first objectionignores Ridley Scott's original intent, while the second misses the point. For the replicants are human too--"More human than human," in fact.

Besides, the question of whether Deckard is or is not an android really depends on which version of the film you watch.

For in all other variants of Blade Runner--the ones that shorn of the unicorn sequence--Deckard only may be a replicant. because Gaff's leaving behind a tinfoil unicorn at deckard's apartment could simply mean that Olmos had already been there, seen the sleeping, fugitive Rachael, and let her live.

But couple Gaff's tinfoil origami with the very private vision Ford has of a live unicorn in the BRDC and ask yourself why Gaff chose that particular calling card. Then recall the scene where Deckard told Rachael he knew her private memory concerning the spider outside her window.

The only logical conclusion is an inescapable one: in the Director's Cut, Rick Deckard is a replicant.

Used without permission for non commercial purposes.

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