Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Film & Water Podcast Episode 18: Blade Runner


Episode 18: BLADE RUNNER

Host Rob Kelly welcomes guest Casey Doran (RADIO VS. THE MARTIANS) to discuss 1982's groundbreaking sci-fi classic BLADE RUNNER! Do podcasters dream of electric sheep?

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1 comment:

  1. One of my favorite films and I have a lot to say about it. But to start, since Casey is likely going to talk about Villeneuve again in the future, I just want to correct his confounding pronunciation. It rhymes with Catherine Deneuve, if that helps. You went a little Spanish on it there. Den-y Vil-neu-v.

    When it comes to Deckard being a replicant or not, I think you have yet to see it enough times, Rob. I think the more you watch it, the more it becomes evident. The big clue is the unicorn dream he has at the piano. It stands out because it's so strange. At the end, Gaff leaves him an origami unicorn, so... how does he know that's Deckard's animal totem? It may be because they activated Deckard complete with false memories, including the unicorn dream, as much on file as Rachael's spider memory. It's a message to Deckard that he won't live long so he might as well go on the lam with her. The origami, the line "it's too bad she won't live, but then again who does?" (i.e. Deckard won't either) and Deckard's expression, realizing something nihilistic about this sign, that tells me he's a replicant. Then you have things like all the old-timey pictures of his mother - replicants like to have pictures around - and the rest of it which feels more like happy accident (the number of replicants changes in the dialog, etc. For even more complexity, watch it thinking Roy knows Deckard. He's the replicant that was "killed" or caught referenced early in the film, and that he was reprogrammed to go after Roy etc.

    What's the point of that? It's the whole point. If the film questions what being human means, then what better ending than finding out the "human" you were following, perhaps wasn't human at all? What does that say about YOUR preconceptions about humanity? The point is that these synthetic people are nevertheless people (and stand-ins for whatever underclass you care to name). They live, they love, they feel pain and injustice. Their mortality doesn't exactly set them apart from us, and in fact, Sebastien, a proper human, suffers from accelerated aging. At every turn, we're reminded that the line between human and replicant is extremely blurry. Another key image, for me, is when Rachael undoes her hair. We go from a severe robotic style when she thinks she's human, to loose chaotic curls when she resigns herself to the fact she's synthetic. Deckard's rape of her when he believes she's an object is striking, but then he's an "object" too. How do we feel about these things. The film will keep asking difficult questions the more you watch it.

    There are also two leitmotifs that speak to this. One is animals, all of them synthetic, or existing in dream or memory, except perhaps the doves at the end. Each character pretty much has a totem animal - turtle, dove, owl, spider, raccoon, unicorn, snake. In terms of species, animals are what we recognize as non-human. In Blade Runner's world, we add replicant to the category of sub-humans. But humans are also part of the animal kingdom, and I think the recurring animal motif brings that whole question into the equation. The other motif is eyes. There are eyes everywhere. Why? Because the central question is one of perception. Who is human and who isn't?

    I'm a huge fan of troubled productions, like Blade Runner, Apocalypse Now, Happy Together, and Brazil, especially when they result in this level of cinematic achievement. If you've never seen the making of - Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner - it's well worth it. In fact, watch the TRAILER for it on YouTube, it has a hilarious sting about Harrison Ford's participation.

    Anyway, I've talked enough. For now.