Blade Runner And Cyberpunk Visions Of Humanity

Ridley Scott's 1982 film 'Blade Runner' appeared just before William Gibson's quintessential cyberpunk novel 'Neuromancer' was published in 1984, and the two share enough features that one might well retroactively call Blade Runner the first truly cyberpunk film.

by W. A. Senior

Ridley Scott‘s popular 1982 film Blade Runner, which was adapted from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, appeared just before William Gibson’s quintessential cyberpunk novel Neuromancer was published in 1984, and the two share enough features that one might well retroactively call Blade Runner the first truly cyberpunk film. Future urban nightmares form their settings; huge financial conglomerates usurp the powers of government; technology, Japanese influence, and a bouillabaisse of postmodern history and culture permeate each; while the Frankensteinian theme of man crafting himself and experimenting with new forms provides both the conflict and the philosophical dialectic that run through the film and through cyberpunk fiction and lead to their mutual central questions: what does it mean to be human? what are the boundaries of humanity? how human or humane are humans? when android/replicants and humans meet, how can one tell them apart? how human are replicants, androids, or genetically designed wo/men?

Blade Runner, like most cyberpunk fiction, establishes no apodictic criteria for humanity. Rather, it insinuates a wide range of constantly metamorphosing humanities from the regressive street rats to the superhuman replicants: “Eventually all the boundaries are blurred between master and slave, hunter and hunted, hero and villain, the animate and the inanimate, the human and the nonhuman” (Francavilla 8). The terms “cyberpunk” and “Neuromancer” are portmanteau words which alloy human concepts to mechanical ones, as perhaps do “Blade” and “Runner.” In Bruce Sterling’s Mechanist and Shapers stories, men dispute the future of mankind and divide into two opposing groups, one committed to improving and developing man through technology and merger with machines, the other devoted to genetic and psychological evolution. In Dan Simmon’s Hyperion novels, the Outers redesign themselves into a myriad of forms, that imitate animal and plant life combined with human form. Even the computer-generated gods of William Gibson’s Sprawl novels are primarily human emanations, software personalities and powers born of human thought and feeling, demi-urges of the chip. Other prominent venues are the genetic tinkering in Rudy Rucker’s work, the “vastening” of Frederick Pohl’s Heechee series whereby a human becomes a computer analog, Neil Stephenson’s related Snow Crash with its Metaverse, and of course the earlier work by Philip K. Dick, especially in novels such as Ubik where human perception, or reality, is controlled by software.. In each case mankind begins to change and develop, to evolve in a sense, under his own control, and the age old question of what it means to be human takes on added dimensions and complications.

As Scott Bukatman phrases it, “Cyberpunk, and the science fiction of terminal identity, returns the human (and its fate) to the center stage of the postmodern drama” (60). Norman Spinrad called the cyberpunk authors “neuromantics”; part of his reference addresses the “radical technological change which provides the opportunity for human beings to positively change the ‘perceptual and psychic definitions of what it means to be human'” (Mead 350). Bruce Sterling comments that one of the central images of cyberpunk fiction is the prosthesis through which flesh and technology meet and meld to produce a different vision of humanity (Tatsumi 26). In Blade Runner are elements mirrored in the later cyberpunk fictions of Sterling, Rucker, John Shirley, Gibson and others.1 Because “cyberpunk” itself is an amorphous term and covers a broad array of ideas, a one-to-one correspondence of elements with Blade Runner does not exist; where the two connect most closely is in the presentation of an ever-adapting humanity and the factors which promote such evolution.

A major factor in the cyberpunk environment is the futuristic and hostile world through which characters move and which often has the effect of unfocussing humanity because of the need for change. The comfort and sentimentality of middle class 20th century life and the attendant myth of science as panacea give way to a minatory and increasingly technological existence in which science figures as both savior (the Golden Age of s-f) and besetting demon (New Wave technophobia). The retro-fitted buildings of Blade Runner‘s sets image the Sprawl of Gibson’s novels, where one building or site is cannibalized so that parts can be added onto another, or the constant accretion in space arcologies where necessity or convenience demands constant additions onto already existing structures. In the streets and alleyways of Blade Runner lurk a dispossessed and increasingly ignored underclass that lives by cunning and wit in a social Darwinism gone mad.2 Even within apparently sanctioned spaces, the environment can be hostile. When Batty and Leon visit the eyeball designer Chew working on eyes in his sub-zero lab, he is wearing a space suit and cannot tolerate the atmosphere when it is removed; when Leon rips his suit open, he is threatening Chew with death by exposure in his own workplace. Outside rain pours down constantly; the skies are covered by smoke, smog, the gaseous effluvia rising from this terrestrial Pandemonium where factories seem volcanoes spewing up ash across the city. As Scott Bukatman and Giuliana Bruno both comment, the muted sepia lighting and the chiaroscuro effect of the movie’s cinematography fade everything together, obscuring certainty and insinuating visually the film’s investigation of what it means to be a human. Nothing is distinct; all is smoky, blurred, shadowy so that the street scenes depict crowds with scarcely any individual characteristics, people hiding their features to avoid the corrosive elements and blending into a large amorphous mass. The characters move beneath huge neon signs and building-size simulacra of Oriental models on massive skyscrapers with external media screens. Surrounding and towering above the streets, these video advertisements dwarf everything and render the average person insignificant; however, at the same time the juxtaposition of the “normal” person with the gargantuan figures offers an expanded view of humankind, perhaps with a subtle allusion to replicants, who themselves seem greater than “human.”

The triumph of Japanese culture also makes this future Los Angeles a distant, if recognizable, world. From the beginning of the film, the Oriental cast of the people, the rickshaws in the streets, the pagoda-like structures shedding light over pedestrians, and even the background music make the city seem a future Tokyo. As Samuel R. Delaney comments of Neuromancer, “Japanoiserie of the most modern and grotty sort greets us around every alley corner” (32-3); and Bruno says much the same of Blade Runner: “The explosive Orient dominates, the Orient of yesterday incorporating the Orient of today” (66). When Deckard first appears, he is at a Japanese outdoor restaurant, eating sushi; the street vendors, the merchants in the alleys, the eye researcher in his lab are all Oriental, as are many of the models featured on the giant billboard/buildings. One of Gaff’s trademarks is the origami he leaves about wherever he has been. English and Japanese words, in both scripts, appear in advertisements, on elevators, on street signs, and the language spoken on the street itself is a polyglot stew of English, Japanese, German, “what have you,” as Deckard puts it. As social systems melt down, so too do languages, a result of evolving, or decaying, class structures and codes. In this melting pot of East and West, of hi-tech affluence and grim poverty, is a radical and dislocating view of suburban, middle class life and its insistence on order, logic, and form.

Similarly the ubiquity of technology places Blade Runner at a remove from our everyday world by taking what we have to extremes, just as most cyberpunk works posit a future in which technology infiltrates every facet of life. As Judith Kerman suggests, “every light in the city’s massive skyscrapers appears to be lit” and “Even traffic lights can be used for crowd control” (17-18). A call to join the off-world colonies is sounded by a huge floating craft that cruises above the streets, while futuristic hovercraft/aircars fly around and over it.3 Deckard searches the photos he finds of Leon’s room with a television-camera-computer-duplication system that responds to voice commands. In essence, he becomes part of the system, a kind of machine analogy himself; moreover, Deckard’s system prefigures the quintessential spirit of cyberpunk fiction and its technocentricity; Bruce Sterling talks of cyberpunk’s constituency of computer wizards sitting around “punching deck” (Tatsumi 27-8), and “Deckard’s computer is surely the envy of every hacker” (Carper 188). Testing for replicants is done with a hi-tech retina scanner, and Deckard stops to ask a streetside vendor to look at a synthetic scale on her— incredibly enough—electron microscope.

The protagonists of cyberpunk fiction, like Rick Deckard, are often hard, pragmatic men and women trying to survive in a constantly changing environment where control and power shift rapidly. Bruce Sterling’s Artificial Kid is actually a combat performance artist who films his exploits and sells them as entertainment. His edge depends upon his use of available technology, whether hardware, software, drugs, or neurosurgery. A central method of survival is through physical or intellectual enhancement as each character takes anything he or she can get to even the odds against the giant, often isolated and unreachable, conglomerates and their hidden agendas and mysterious AIs. “The executives of the great industrial zaibatsu that dominate the world economy, exchange their liberty for the cradle-to- grave security of the corporate arcologies” (Mead 355). Similarly, Tyrell in Blade Runner lives in his own environment and sends out orders and ultimatums; his 700 story corporate fortress effectively makes him a law and order unto himself. Rick Deckard, like Molly, Case, or Turner in Gibson’s novels or Abelard Lindsey in Sterling’s Schismatrix, finds himself caught in the corporate/governmental power Web.

Beyond his own survival, foremost among Deckard’s concerns is the question of where humankind leaves off, or perhaps where it begins, for he is a Blade Runner, a special type of private detective/bounty hunter, whose job is to hunt down and destroy renegade replicants, genetically engineered beings designed for special tasks and purposes deemed too difficult, demeaning, or dangerous for normal humans. Like many of the central characters of cyberpunk fiction (and the detective/film noir genre Scott uses), he is a loner or a misfit, one who goes his own way. Called out of retirement, Deckard is forced to resume his profession by an all-­powerful bureaucracy that denies him individual rights and self-­determination, just as it discriminates against replicants and limits not only their choices but also their lives. Replicants were built to be human in almost every way, yet they are denied human status, like many of the others who cannot qualify for off-world placement, in a technologically racist society that views them as disposable slaves. Deckard makes the connection for us when he says that the police lieutenant Bryant is the “type of cop who used to call black men n i g g e r s” because Bryant refers to replicants as “skin jobs.”4 From this first tentative identification of Deckard with the replicants he hunts, the movie develops a number of ambiguities and further associations so that we become uncertain whether Deckard himself is not a replicant; at the same time, it implies that distinctions between human and replicant ultimately fade and do not matter.5

Deckard’s competence, his intelligence, his toughness, and his effectiveness place him on a level with the replicants. He tracks them fairly easily, has an affinity for anticipating their behavior, and understands them. In fact, if we make a preliminary leap of faith that Deckard is a replicant, then only replicants kill replicants in the film, perhaps because others cannot. It is significant first that he survives Zohra’s attack since she is a trained kick assassin and then that he does kill her as she inexplicably flees from him. He later survives another vicious, crippling assault by Pris- “your basic pleasure model”— but manages to destroy her as well. On the other hand, Deckard is saved from Leon by Rachel after he kills Zohra. Only against Batty, the most modern and advanced combat model of replicant, is it clear that he has little chance. When Deckard goes out to Tyrell Corporation to begin his investigation, he is greeted by Rachel, whom we shortly discover is a new generation replicant. Ironically, she begins questioning Deckard in the same fashion that he then applies to her, using the same strategies used on Leon in one of the film’s opening scenes. These questions elicit emotional responses and address both common and distasteful subjects: Rachel asks an innocuous greeting question and then inquires if Deckard has ever “retired,” the euphemism for “killed,” a real person by mistake.

The question, taken in context, raises further questions for the viewer. Deckard himself has just been called out of “retirement” by this emergency despite his protests and attempted refusal because the police force’s best men have failed. Yet despite this period of inactivity, he is able to spot that Rachel is a replicant, although she does not know it herself. Tyrell explains that the newest experimental’models have had past memories and associations implanted in order to give them stability and to make them even more human, so to speak, so we begin to wonder if Deckard himself is not one of these models, or an older one that has been revived or revised, brought out when needed like the Tessier-Ashpool ninja Hideo in Neuromancer.

Deckard’s visit to Leon’s apartment further clouds the issue when he finds the packet of Leon’s photos in a dresser drawer, photos of a family, house, and celebrations together. When Leon meets Roy Batty, Batty asks if he has found his “precious pictures,” underscoring the importance of this family history to Leon. Similarly, in a later scene, after she has saved Deckard’s life, Rachel presents him with a picture of herself and her mother as evidence that she cannot be a replicant. Upon his own piano are many pictures, whether his, Leon’s, or both we do not know. But his fascination with them yokes him again to the replicants and their similar needs and fascinations. Although they are not supposed to have emotions, the test for replicants is based on emotional reaction, and Rachel has been built to have a full complement of emotions. Deckard thinks to himself that “Replicants weren’t supposed to have feelings, but neither were blade runners.” Yet it is clear that both do and develop powerful emotions through contact with others. And “in science fiction the ultimate sign of the human” is the expression of “emotions and feelings” (Bruno 61). Leon is saddened by the loss of his pictures; Rachel is desperate to prove herself human; Batty is sympathetic with and understanding of the rather dense Leon. Joseph Francavilla claims that no one—human or replicant—shows any remorse for the various deaths (10), but this is incorrect: when Deckard kills Zohra, the scene is attended by slow, melancholy music and his own regrets and unhappiness. He is dismayed by shooting a woman in the back and by the plight of the replicants, which mirrors his own victimization by a police force that hunted him out and forced him into actions he does not wish to take. And so he laments the whole matter for himself, “for her [Zohra], for Rachel.”

Another issue raised by the photos is that of memory, recall of the past, for continuity of memory defines the individual. Sterling’s Artificial Kid manufactures memories. In Dick’s Ubik, no one can be sure whose thoughts or experiences are whose. In Neuromancer, the AI Wintermute implants memories into Corto; Case tries to recapture the sensations of cyberspace through drugs; the Dixie Flatline is nothing but a RAM construct of memory. The characters of Blade Runner are similarly bounded by memory. One of Deckard’s first comments is a recollection of his ex-wife; Rachel confronts him with both photos and memories, which he tells her are someone else’s. Batty’s Keatsian discourse as he dies catalogs his most treasured experiences. Leon’s explosion during the retina test results from a question about his mother. In this issue lies one nexus of cyberpunk fiction, for memory is shared by people and computers, individually and symbiotically. An AI is “human” in part because of its ability to remember. Gibson, in fact, points out that he considers a computer simply a metaphor for the brain, so memory too becomes a common denominator in the exploding concept of “humanity.”

In addition to their quest for more life, the need for present love and security, as the pictures also testify, drives the replicants. Rachel comes to Deckard in a frightened panic and looks to him for help, just as Batty seems to regard Leon as a younger, slow-witted brother and Pris as lover. The beginning of Deckard’s affair with Rachel demonstrates both her urgent passion and his own need for love and comfort, a denial of the label of “cold fish” his ex-wife (if she actually existed) pinned to him. Moreover, the situations, behaviors, reactions, and needs of the replicants parallel or exceed in intensity those of the few humans in the film. Leonard Heldreth cites Pauline Kael’s severe criticism of Batty as “so overscaled it’s Wagnerian,” but points out that “the emotional intensity, the animal exuberance” (52) provide a balance and a contrast to Deckard and the other “humans.” In fact, because they are so aware of their five year existence, the replicants live with an internsity and joie de uiure that the genetic humans lack almost entirely. Both of the police, Gaf and Bryant, seem to be cold fish themselves, highly pragmatic and disassociated men. Tyrell, the Frankensteinian father of the replicants destroyed by his own triumph, is a caricature of the inhuman scientist obsessed with progress. On one hand, the replicants’ journey to discover who conceived them is an Oedipal journey (Bruno 71). On another mythic level, Tyrell is a remote and distant deity to them; he seems ironically to have no feeling for their tribulations and even applies the Achilles proposition to Batty, explaining that he burns more brightly for having the shorter life, a state and statement, for all their truth, that offer little consolation. Tyrell even calls him the Prodigal Son, tying him into yet another human myth and archetype and confirming his “humanity.” Even the chess game, in which the creation surpasses the creator, forwards the paradigm: to Tyrell it is an academic exercise; for Batty the checkmate operates as and prefigures his revenge as he reciprocally cuts short Tyrell’s lifespan..

By contrast to Bryant and Tyrell, Deckard and the replicants are round characters with many personal attributes, both strengths and weaknesses. In Roy Batty combat programming and calculated brutality contradict an otherwise compassionate and sensitive nature. He quotes poetry at various times for emotional effect; he seems to treasure Pris and Leon and is both angered and saddened by Zohra’s death and the piecemeal destruction of his community; while dying, he rhapsodizes lyrically about the marvelous things he has seen in his life. The others display similar reactions and emotions, but Rachel has been designed to be the most perfect imitation: To simulate implies actually producing in oneself some of the characteristics of what one wants to simulate. It is a matter of internalizing the signs or the systems to the point where there is no difference between “false” and “true,” “real” and imaginary.” Rachel is the most perfect replicant because she does not know if she is one or not. To say that she simulates her symptoms, her sexuality, her memory is to say that she realizes, experiences them (Bruno 68).

She and Deckard exhibit reflexive stereotypical responses to stress. When being examined by Deckard, Rachel asks to smoke; he, upon returning to his apartment, immediately pours himself a drink in order to relax. After the battles with Zohra and Leon, Deckard turns to Rachel and says, “Shakes? Me too,” and then offers her a drink. His anxiety about her is matched by Batty’s for Pris, two warriors protecting their women. For Blade Runner, like cyberpunk fiction, is in essence about the desperate struggle to survive, whether one is a genetic human or a genetically produced human. It has Darwinian overtones in the idea of the development of humanity into competing species in which one is the hunted and then the hunter. When Sebastian asks Pris and Batty what the problem seems to be, the answer comes in one word: “Death.” After a depressed Deckard has killed Zohra and let down his guard, Leon attacks him and summarizes their mutual condition: “Painful to live in fear, isn’t it?” This event is repeated later, after Deckard kills Pris, when Batty hunts him in return and shouts, “Quite an experience to live in fear,” signaling the bedrock human condition that none escape. Even their wounds are replicas of one another in this scene: both have bleeding faces; both have injured hands. As Deckard braces himself to put fingers that Batty has dislocated back into their sockets, Batty pierces his hand with a nail to keep it from clenching itself as his life’s battery begins to drain. The Christ analogy further links the two and enlarges the concept of humanity through the dual nature of the man/god (the flight of the dove at the end adds yet a third dimension as Holy Ghost). On another level, Leonard Heldreth argues that this final scene borrows heavily from the original Frankenstein film and states that the two sides of the personality—the rational scientist and irrational monster, ego and id—unite here (47).

In the end Batty, when he has Deckard at his mercy and could allow them to die together, saves a man he should consider his enemy. Designed as a killing machine, Batty surpasses his originally inhibiting nature through empathy, compassion, and generosity—traits much valued among “civilized human beings.” Sitting in the downpour as the strength runs out of him, Batty discourses upon the wonders he has seen, the vitality of the life that burned in him. Upon his death, the dove cradled in his hands flies upward despite the rain, a symbol of the soul within. A stunned Deckard wonders if life were not so precious to the replicant that he could not bear to see any life ended, and he too defends his enemy, saying, “All he’d wanted were the same answers the rest of us wanted. Where do I come from? Where am I going? How long do I have?”

When Gaff enters at this point, he makes a statement that reinforces the ambiguity of Deckard’s nature. ‘You’ve done a man’s job, sir,” he tells him, making us wonder again if Deckard is not a replicant. (In fact, in an earlier script, Gaffs next line was, “But are you a man?” [Kolb 170]). Gaff also verbally ties Deckard’s end to the replicants’. He says, “I guess you’re through,” and Deckard replies resignedly, “Finished.” But in return, Gaff offers him hope and a reason to go on, alluding to Rachel, who is sleeping in Deckard’s apartment, and saying, “It’s too bad she won’t live. But then again, who does?” Just as replicants die, so too do humans, and the hour of their end is hidden. So Deckard hurries to protect Rachel and to help her escape, as Batty did for Pris, and finds her not in death but in sleep. His guarded approach to her and awakening kiss are a mirror inversion of Batty’s wary approach to Pris and his good-bye kiss to her corpse. And just as Batty permitted Deckard’s escape and life, so too does Gaff permit Rachel’s.

In the end, as he and Rachel, now hunted as the replicants were, leave the city’s dismal environment and enter blue sky and open land, the problematic “green ending,” Deckard repeats Batty’s questions about life, but now he uses the pronoun “we” to wonder how long he and Rachel have and where they are going. His questions are again ambiguous, for if both are replicants, they may well not be programmed for a full life or may be programmed for different lengths; or Deckard may be referring to the hunt that must once again follow them; or he may simply be resigned to the human condition.

For death ultimately constitutes another common denominator. A parallel, secondary storyline involving J.R. Sebastian supports the concerns of the main plot. Sebastian is a genetic engineer who works on replicants. A peculiar little man, he suffers from the incurable Methusaleh’s syndrome, which will age and thus kill him at an early age, an affliction which the replicants share (Bruno 65). So the replicants return to seek more life since they have been designed to run down and simply stop as if on a timer, a planned obsolescence parallel to accelerated decrepitude. In a scene of mordant irony, Sebastian introduces his friends to Pris, whom he has just met. As the strange creatures come to the door to greet him, he explains to Pris, “I make friends.” Indeed, his whole apartment is filled with friends and creatures he has manufactured and for whom he cares. In fact, he later tells Batty and Pris, “I made you.” Pris, who resembles a large doll, fits right in with his companions and later attempts to hide herself among them: until her death.

In Trillion Year Spree Brian Aldiss criticizes Blade Runner for its deviations from Phillip K. Dick‘s rich novel, upon which the film is loosely based, and laments the movie’s reliance on Hollywood’s hard-boiled detective tradition. He further attacks the film for what he calls its reduction of the complex story line and moral problems: “Gone were Rick Deckard’s marital problems and his fears about his own authenticity. Gone was the whole question of human worth as something not to be measured in simple IQ terms” (335).6 Yet Aldiss’ complaints, while they may have pinpointed some of the film’s flaws, ignore its intent. Scott’s revision of the original is not meant to be literally true to the original because at its heart is the question of what constitutes humanity consists. Is humanity a measure of quantity or of quality? Is it form or is it content? In fact, “the larger question of the film which is related to genocide is the ability of the state to define the human and to destroy those who fall outside the definition” (Kerman 23).

Neuromancer spawned an entire movement within the science fiction canon and a generation of devotees, while Blade Runner has had no imitators, only cousins such as Mad Max, perhaps because it cuts too closely and asks too many unpleasant questions about class structure, the figure of the alien within us, racism, power, the ethics of genetic sciences, and so on. Ultimately, Blade Runner posits, no doubt uncomfortably for many, that humanity expands to occupy many forms, and its primary bond with cyberpunk fiction lies in their evaluation of the nature of humanity as hardwire technology, genetic sculpting, and human biology become symbiotic and mutually dependent. Recently the term “differently abled” has become a social and political buzzword, but Blade Runner and cyberpunk look one step further to the differently humaned. Or as Philip K. Dick wryly put it, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?


1. I am using the term cyberpunk rather generally here. As I would define it, cyberpunk work has a rigorous intellectual base that permits hard extrapolative questions about the future of technology and its effect on man; a society/culture permeated by various technologies so that humanity has begun to fragment as a result; a frequently grim setting where the gap between rich and poor has become unbridgeable and where the middle class seems virtually to have disappeared; and a freewheeling aesthetic vision obtained from “punk” culture. Gibson’s three Sprawl novels (Neuromancer, Count Zero, Mona Lisa Overdrive), Sterling’s Artificial Kid and Schismatrix, Rucker’s Software and Wetware, Gibson and Sterling’s co-authored Difference Engine, the anthology Mirrorshades would form a solid core nucleus of cyberpunk fiction.

2. As Samuel R. Delaney succinctly puts it, “Gibson’s world .. . is harsh, Total Recall impoverished, and cruel” (32). The same can be said of almost any cyberpunk work. In Schismatrix, for instance, Sterling investigates the grim problem of bacterial infection in different space vehicles. Simmons’ Hyperion novels show an entire civilization in collapse and the resultant destructive, hope-rending upheaval.

3. It would appear, in fact, that almost anyone who can go offworld already has, so that Blade Runner deals with a different class of humans heading for Morlock status, and it thus achieves reflexive polarities in examining humanity: the replicants, who exist at the higher end of the scale, and the human rejects, who exist at the other. Yet both are linked by the control exerted over them by the authorities; they are, as Bryant puts it, “little people.”

4. I am using the original film with the much debated voice-over, not the Director’s cut which omits the narrative and the Hollywood ending; the second, I believe, is so different that it needs an entirely different reading. As Leonard Heldreth points out in an as-yet unpublished article, the audience “confronts an original and a replicant version of the film … and must decide which is more authentic.” In a sense, both films ask us to decide that about the characters. Obviously, the lack of commentary and the long white spaces that occur with it change the way we conceive of Deckard, Batty, Pris, and so on. Without Deckard’s assessment of Bryant, we are likely to see the latter as more menacing but perhaps not see him in a negative light. Similarly, Deckard’s assessment of his own feelings and his comments on Batty’s death bring us closer to him; their omission leaves us in yet more doubt about the nature and the “humanity” of the different characters.

5. Various articles and interviews demonstrate that Ridley Scott certainly thought of Deckard as a replicant, and Leonard Heldreth comments that the most interesting possible ending “involved Deckard finding out he himself was, like Rachel, a Nexus 7 model” (51).

6. Donald Palumbo agrees with Aldiss and says that the film “avoids nearly all the ambiguities of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? He posits that Total Recall “achieves a measure of artistic success precisely because it is so relentlessly ambiguous” (69).

Works Cited

Aldiss, Brian W. Trillion Year Spree. New York: Avon, 1986.

Bukatman, Scott. “The Cybernetic (City) State: Terminal Space Becomes Phenomenal.” JFA 2 (Summer 1989): 43-63.

Carper, Steve. “Subverting the Disaffected City: Cityscape in Blade Runner.” Kerman. 185-95.

Delaney, Samuel R. “Is Cyberpunk a Good or a Bad Thing?” Mississippi Review 47/48 (1988): 28-34.

Francavilla, Joseph. ‘The Android as Doppelganger.” Kerman. 4-15.

Heldreth, Leonard. “The Cutting Edges of Blade Runner. Kerman. 40­52.

Kerman, Judith. “Technology and Politics in the Blade Runner Dystopia.” Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Ed. Judith B. Kerman. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1991. 16-24.

Kolb, William M. “Blade Runner Film Notes.” Kerman. 154-77.

Mead, David G. “Technological Transformation in William Gibson’s Sprawl Novels: Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive. Extrapolation 32.4 (Winter 1991): 350-60.

Palumbo, Donald. “Inspired … by Phillip K. Dick”: Ambiguity, Deception, and Illusion in Total Recall.” JFA 4.1 (1991): 69-80.

Scott, Ridley, dir. Blade Runner. USA: Ladd Co, 1982.

Tatsumi, Takayuki. “SF Author Profile: Bruce Sterling.” Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review Annual 1989. Eds. Robert A. Collins and Robert Latham. Westport, CT: Meckler, 1991. 26-45.

W. A. Senior, “Blade Runner and Cyberpunk Visions of Humanity,” Film Criticism 21, no.1 (Fall 1996): 1-12


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