N: This seems a good point to drop
in that most annoying and intriguing of questions - is Deckard a
Replicant? [audible groan]. Right at the beginning of FN,
you make the comment, "Maybe now people will stop asking us
if Deckard is a replicant!" Guess again!
Even though Scott has been saying it for years, it was still reported
in mainstream news when he stated it again in the Channel 4 documentary.
But the debate continues unabated. There is no doubt that BR
is Ridley Scott's film and that he did a stunning job. But the associated
debate is whether a director can dictate how people view his creation
- or does the creation become an entity unto itself, separated from
those who made it?
Another factor is that, back in 1982, Scott said in interviews that
he wanted to suggest that Deckard might be a Replicant -
something that seems to be reflected in your own description of
events. In the end, is it not more interesting to have the question
than to "know" the answer?
PS: That's a good point. I agree that the ambiguity of Deckard's
true nature is far more interesting than simply inserting a scene
where a character blurts out, "C'mere, you fuckin' android!"
What I do find amusing and more than a little exasperating about
this issue, though, is how some BR fans simply won't accept
the facts of this matter. I mean, Ridley first told me in 1980 -
1980! - that he thought it would be interesting to suggest
Deckard was a replicant. Of course, 18 years later, Ridley began
telling interviewers that he'd always meant Deckard to be
a replicant. Well, maybe Ridley was being a little disingenuous.
Or maybe he'd just forgotten the reality of the situation. Because
I never heard Scott ever come right out and say, at least while
the film was being made, "Yeah, this cop is a replicant."
The words I recall were, "He might be a replicant."
do know that Ridley argued with Harrison over this point, because
Ford never wanted Deckard to be anything but a flawed human being
who was redeemed through love and an understanding of the replicants
plight. However, having said that, I also think Ridley himself probably
inwardly felt that Deckard was an artificial human. Why else
include the daydream/tinfoil unicorn tie-in? Of course, the galloping
unicorn footage was one of the last things filmed for the picture,
so perhaps Ridley had come down more squarely on the side of the
"Deck as Rep" issue by then.
Anyway, I don't remember him ever explicitly stating that,
yeah, Deckard is a replicant. Not while the film was being made.
Ridley always said, at least to me, that he thought it would be
far more provocative to imply Deckard was an artificial being.
That way audiences would have something to mull over and talk about
after the lights came up.
To respond to your other query, I agree with you - some films definitely
take on lives of their own. Sure, the director and writer and actors
and cinematographer stamp their own personalities on a project.
But there's something almost mystical about the way a film can then
exhibit a separate identity of its own. It's almost like alchemy,
you know? Transforming lifeless light and celluloid into a uniquely
individual, subtly living thing.
But to get back to the Ford as replicant debate - as I wrote in
Future Noir, it depends on which version of Blade Runner
you see. I think that that experience will influence your decision
more than anything. The original theatrical release, for instance,
certainly makes a strong case for Deckard being human. But the inclusion
of the unicorn shot in the Director's Cut more or less suggests
that he is a Replicant. My advice is - keep arguing. Then
make your own decision.
N: I was surprised no one referenced
Future Noir when Ridley brought this issue up again a few
PS: Me too. That was really a wake-up call for me. I mean,
the manner in which the mainstream media approached this issue,
as if it was something brand-new, made me realize that the mainstream
probably wasn't aware of Future Noir. Yet if you're a responsible,
informed journalist, how could you not know that an entire
book had already been written about this film? A book that
had a separate, stand-alone section that addressed the Replicant
debate at great length? And Future Noir certainly wasn't the first
written reference to address this issue, either. I mean, come on!
The first time I mentioned it in print was back in 1981, for Christ's
sake. Later on, I repeated that hypothesis for my Video Watchdog
piece. Yet not a single mainstream news channel or magazine mentioned
these facts, or even seemed aware of them.
That's sort of depressing, you know, on any number of levels. Especially
as it indicates how shabbily corporate networks and major news outlets
must conduct their "research" before they do a story.
If they do any research at all.
Anyway, want to know my personal take on this "Deckard as
Replicant" controversy? I still think it's more fun, and challenging,
to realize that Harrison might be an android… even if
the Director's Cut clearly indicates that he is one.
N: I quite agree that the "nature
of Deckard" question is more interesting than the answer, but
the debate will no doubt continue regardless of anyone's answers!