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Blade Runner is one of the great films of the twentieth century. There are many reasons that contribute to this. There is the obvious enjoyment one can have of simply watching a fantastic film with interesting characters in a stunningly created environment set to terrific music. But there is also much more depth to this particular film. It addresses some of the eternal questions that humans have asked for centuries, for example:

"What does it mean to be human?"
"What is reality?"
"What is the difference between real memories and artificial memories?"
"How does our environment affect us?"
"What are the moral issues we face in the creation of artificial people?"

These and many more questions are there in the film for those who wish to examine them. Brought out by script, direction and even visual design, which in Blade Runner sometimes almost becomes a character in itself.

Many are interested in these subjects simply for their own sake. Others are lucky enough to study them as part of academic courses. It seems there is an increasing need for a resource guide to find all those excellent analysis essays dispersed across the Web. Let this be it.

In this guide, I have identified whether the link is internal to or external. Although some texts do stay on the Web for years, others disappear as people move on. Therefore, BRmovie offers a permanent home for any essays and other analysis works so they may be saved for the BR community. See Site Info for how to contribute, or e-mail the Webmaster with new links.

Note: for books on the Blade Runner film, see this BR Related section.

And don't forget to check the movie reviews, some of which go into great depth so they are almost analysis essays themselves.

Finally, please remember that these are individual interpretations. You should still, (of course), take whatever you want to from the film. Just because somebody else has made a certain interpretation, doesn't mean it is a fact. (And some also get minor facts wrong.)

Copyright on all analysis essays published on this site remains with the original authors. None of this work can be substantially copied elsewhere without the author's permission. However, excerpts may be freely quoted with proper attribution.

All links open in a named second window (so you always have the list of links in this window and the specific linked page in the second window).

Many of these essays comment on multiple themes, but to help you get to what you're looking for quicker, I have attempted to bring some order to the kipple by sorting them by their main theme. Be warned that the categorisations are very broad, so I hope you have time to look "outside the box".
What is reality? What is humanity?
More Human than Human Postmodernism and Cyberpunk
Religion and Man playing God Poetry and Song
The futuristic architectural landscape Media studies
English studies Other links


What is reality?

How to build a Universe that doesn't fall apart two days later (BRmovie link)

What better way to start than with this (long) discourse by Philip K. Dick himself. What is reality? (For more PKD, this website is where you start.)

Reality or Simulacra (External link)

Amedeo Felix examines the concept of reality. Is it real, or do we only think it is real? Examination refers to both Blade Runner and DADoES.

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What is humanity?

Philip K. Dick's Human Vision (BRmovie link)

Kyla Bremner looks at Dick's work, particularly DADoES and examines the question of humanity, both as it applies to PKD's Androids and also how it applies to us.

Picturing the Human (Body and Soul): A Reading of Blade Runner (BRmovie link)

Further examination of the theme of humanity, this time referencing the Blade Runner film. Dr Stephen Mulhall questions humanity, how it is portrayed in the film and considers how we should react to it.

Prejudice: A Means of Oppressing the Unique (BRmovie link)

The prejudice inherent in human society is a theme explored by Philip K. Dick in several of his works. Patrick Meaney compares the prejudice theme across three of PKD's books and considers what we can learn from PKD's writing.

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More Human than Human

The Replicant Option (BRmovie link)

Detonator provides the argument for why Deckard should be a Replicant.

Deckard Is Not A Replicant (BRmovie link)

Opinions from Martin Connolly on the eternal question of Deck-a-Rep or Deck-a-Human?

Roy Batty detailed character analysis (BRmovie link)

As the most complex and engaging character in Blade Runner, Roy Batty has many facets. RoyBoy sees that Roy's struggle is not just against Deckard and Tyrell, but against himself. Roy's growth is examined and compared to our own Human efforts to achieve our ideal of Humanity.

More Than Human: Blade Runner's Human / Replicant debate (External link)

A fascinating exploration by Patrick Deese of the essence behind the debate. The question of Deckard's humanity versus the Replicant's humanity is one of what "humanity" itself is and what it even means to "improve" on it.

How the concept of the cyborg has changed human self-perception (BRmovie link)

An analysis of the blurring of what constitutes humanity. Chris Thorp uses examples from a few films in this examination.

Finding the Cyborg (External link)

Another essay originally from the University of Minnesota Cyberfeminism and Technoculture course - this one from Hannah Kuhlmann. A strong analysis of the female replicants and their status and roles within society and within the film.

The Parting of the Mist (External link)

A Film History paper by Joseph M. Reagle Jr. examining the conflict between Human and Replicant as exemplified by the big question of whether or not Deckard himself is a Replicant.

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Postmodernism and Cyberpunk

Blade Runner - What it means to be humans in the cybernetic state (External link)

One of the big questions in Blade Runner is "What does it mean to be Human?" John W. Whitehead has a look at this and related questions in Blade Runner couched in a view of the postmodern world.

A Study of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (External link)

A dissertation for English Literature and Philosophy by Majid Salim. Examines various paradigms and ends with a postmodern analysis. (Note: this link is currently unavailable. I am looking into it.)

Memories and Postmodern Consciousness (BRmovie link)

Does the unsettling of boundaries between real and simulated memories through androids and cyborgs in DADoES, Blade Runner and Robocop reveal wider anxieties and hopes of the postmodern consciousness? Kevin Telfer tries to answer the question.

Alienations in a Dystopia: Scott's Blade Runner and Dick's DADoES (BRmovie link)

Comparison by Patrick Meaney of book and film, particularly in regard to the dystopian themes expressed in each. The film has much that is similar to the book, but also much that is not.

Eyeballing the Simulacra (External link)

Desire and Vision in Blade Runner, by Cathy Cupitt. An in-depth essay examining post-modern desires and fears and their visual representation in Blade Runner.

Cybergrrrlz: Cyberpunk Women of Neuromancer, The Matrix and Blade Runner (BRmovie link)

JoAnna Thomsen's final paper for her "Cyberfeminism & Technoculture" Women's Studies course at the University of Minnesota.

The Dystopian World of Blade Runner: An Ecofeminist Perspective (External link)

A serious examination of Blade Runner by Mary Jenkins at the University of Tasmania. Particularly assessing the value of life as perceived in the film and how it relates to the real world.

Blade Runner, Postmodernism, and the Owl of Minerva (External link)

Excerpt from the opening pages of - Jay Clayton, "Concealed Circuits: Frankestein's Monster, the Medusa, and the Cyborg." Held at Vanderbilt University.

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Religion and Man playing God

Who are the Toymakers? (External link)

Examination of the motivations of man playing God or toymaker in Blade Runner by Hrafnhildur Blöndal. Also refers to PKD.

How Science Became God In Blade Runner (External link)

An examination of Tyrell and his fellow scientists and their place in the Blade Runner world. Tony Schloss makes some big assumptions and sweeping statements to make his points.

Relationship between Creator and Created (External link)

Comparison of Creator and Created between Frankenstein and Blade Runner. Essay by John Samuelson examining the relationship between Humans and their artificially created "men". (Note: this link is currently unavailable. I am looking into it.)

Relationship between Tyrell and Roy (External link)

An examination by Jean-Paul Gossman of the religious theme in Blade Runner. (Note: this link is currently unavailable. I am looking into it.)

Hollywood Jesus interpretation (External link)

Hollywood Jesus look for religious imagery and interpretations in Hollywood movies. There obviously is religious imagery in Blade Runner, but this site does go a little overboard - particularly when they make it "Christian" rather than generic. PKD created a fictional religion precisely to get around that problem. The makers of the film decided to make it more accessible as the whole Mercerism concept couldn't be put across in a 2 hour action movie.

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Poetry and Song

William Blake poem quoted by Roy Batty (BRmovie link)

When Roy Batty quotes poetry, some of it comes from William Blake, although with some words changed.

Fearful Symmetry: Supreme Power and Supreme Weakness (BRmovie link)

This is, on the face of it, a comparison by Patrick Meaney of William Blake's The Tyger and The Fly. However, when I read it through my Blade Runner glasses, I see an inciteful metaphorical analysis of Tyrell, Replicants and Humans.

One More Kiss, Dear (BRmovie link)

The lyrics to the song "One More Kiss, Dear" that is part of the Blade Runner soundtrack.

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The futuristic architectural landscape

Beyond Blade Runner: Urban Control/The Ecology of Fear (External link)

How the nightmare of the future city is becoming reality. An essay by writer, Mike Davis, (now teacher of Urban Theory at the Southern California Institute of Architecture).

Downsizing the Future: Beyond Blade Runner with Mike Davis (External link)

Analysis of the above essay followed by interview with Mike Davis, conducted by Mark Dery.

At Home with Replicants: The Architecture of Blade Runner (External link)

Andrew Benjamin examines the interplay of film and architecture in Blade Runner.

The Future of Our Discontents (External link)

The Contributions of Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner to the Landscapes of the Twenty-First Century. William Timberman puts his view of the view. Question - Did Scott et al predict or influence?

The Least Scary Option - Blade Runner and the Future City (External link)

University essay by Stephen Rowley on postmodern cities as exemplified by New York and the Los Angeles of 2019 in Blade Runner.

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Media studies

Blade Runner - Film Noir or Science Fiction? (External link)

A study for Audio-Visual culture by Timo Mikkola. There is some clever use of Film Noir technique in Blade Runner. Timo examines these.

The Importance of Production Design (External link)

Jonathan J. Lim studies production design, concentrating on Lawrence G. Paull, in particular his and other designers work on Blade Runner. An interesting mini website. I suggest you don't wait for the movie clips unless you have a fast connection.

Blade Runner film analysis (External link)

Film Education in association with York Film Notes (see the book in the BR Related books section).

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English studies

Blade Runner - Cyberspace and Critical Theory (External link)

A collection of English papers from Brown University covering the whole range of themes in Blade Runner, including setting, characterisations comparison to anime and of course Human Identity.

Study guide for DADoES (External link)

An English study guide for DADoES by Paul Brians at Washington State University.

Using Blade Runner in School English Classes (External link)

A pleasant site looking at how to use Blade Runner in English - specifically the UK GCSE English, but applicable anywhere. Commentary, possible essay titles, etc. provided by Duncan Grey at Hinchingbrooke School. Includes differences list between Blade Runner and DADoES.

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Other links

Collections of essays can also be found at these sites:

2019: Off-World
Blade Runner Insight

Bibliography of Fantastic Film

Blade Runner


As stated above, if you know of any more resources that should be added here, please e-mail the Webmaster. I would also like to hear from any teachers or anyone else particularly trained in English, Philosophy or Film Technique or Design, so please write in to say if any of the above items have been useful to you. If particular items are rated very useful, I will highlight them more.