This is a topic I have wanted to explore for a while. I believe that Ridley Scott is one of the most subversive directors working today. He has constant anti capitalist themes in the majority of his films. I wanted to look at Blade Runner for this write up though. It’s short, and maybe a little aimless but it gets my point across.
Blade runner is a milestone in not only science fiction films, but also in the world of noir. Based on the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K Dick. We follow a morally questionable protagonist through a dark seedy world to retire a replicant for murder. On it’s surface it really is a simple detective story, but a major theme in the movie is what is underneath. What is truth, and what is fiction. Who do we believe, what do we believe, or even why we believe in what we believe in. We see themes of morality, religion, and transhumanism.
Something important to look at in Blade Runner is not what is simply within the plot. The plot is honestly secondary. The importance of Blade Runner is what is going on in the mind of Deckard. Why he looks at what he does, why he questions who he does. It is a story about a man trying to re find his own humanity. He is a character who has become cynical, and with his loss of faith he has gone on a mission to discover who he really is. While there are many visual queues to christianity within the story, I think what we are seeing is a nod to something with buddhism and a search for enlightenment so to speak. For a movie that is so rooted within replicants, and the notion of inhumanity. We see a true human condition that is explored throughout the film.
While there is a lot going on in the film that has to do with humanity, what we really see is an exploration of the concept of capitalism, and how capitalism is slowly stripping away not only our sense of individuality, but the entire notion of human empathy. The main villain of the film is not the person Deckard is on the hunt for. The true villain of the film is capitalism. The Tyrell Corporation is who sets out the entire run of events within the film. Not to mention it is heavily implied that the police are bought by the corporations, and while not always seen in the world they deliver somewhat of an omnipresence. We see the sirens, and lights and the presence of the police, but they hover over the city representing the idea of state control. A loss of true freedom. We also see that environmentalism has been all but destroyed. Most everything in the city seems to be artificial including animals. The world almost seems like it is supposed to represent the projects. We see the lower class within this world pushed to the slums, and a world of crime. We see a loss of power from anyone not in a higher class.
The most important part of the movie is arguably Deckard believing that he may be a replicant. What that represents is the inability to see the truth of a situation. Truth is often something we actually don’t want to know. Deckard being a replicant leads to an entire new line of questions, and it leads to his entire world being a lie. Deckard now has to come to the conclusion that everything he knew was not actually real. That he was a series of ideas and lies implanted by a corporation. It speaks on if our beliefs are as cut and dry as we would like to believe. Are we all victims of corporate and government propaganda? The schools we go to, the books we read, the movies we watch, are these implanting harmful ideas of our society into our minds?
Blade Runner is a film that takes the genre of noir, and the hard boiled detective and gives us a deeper understanding into societal and human thought. It takes these genre cliches we already know and makes us think about the harder philosophical ideas of our life. It transcends what we know in our everyday life and elevates it to a level of thought that we need to be more aware of our lives, not only in our own interpersonal relationships, but the relationships of our community. If we do not act on the injustice of our society we will lose our individuality as well as a sense of community which is very possible to destroy our humanity.