Characterisation and post release editing.
Philip K. Dick posited an artificial life form is his short story ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”. A screenplay was created and after a troubled production came to cinema as’ Blade Runner’ in 1982.
The terms blade runner and replicant where created for the screenplay. In a dystopian future blade runners eliminate replicants (synthetic humans) who have returned to Earth. The most frequently asked question about the film is whether Deckard the Blade Runner protagonist, hero character is a replicant himself.
According to Scott Bukatman, editor Terry Rawlings said ” Ridley …left it up to the viewers to decide”but he adds during production the question many things were ‘possibly it’s this or ‘possibly it’s that’ (Bukatman, 1997, pp. 72–73). Keeping the film as evocative than explicit.
Lorentzen comments in Visual Culture describing ” Roy Batty, the Aryan leather-clad schizoid cyborg”, “…straight out of liberal Anglo Western fantasy, angel perfect and yet monstrously homicidal in dark stalinist fascistic-liberal democratic hues as he contemplates a humanity which makes him exterminate ruthlessly with a self destructing desolate compassion-a love that can kill”(Jenks, C., p167).
Roy is the leader of the group who have returned to Earth seeking their birthdates (incept date) so they can establish how long they have to live. He is the antagonist but ultimately saves Deckard.
The initial release had a Deckard voiced ‘Chandler like ‘ narration. Detached, private investigator-like and in control.The film was not initially a success critically or at the box office and a number of cuts including Director Ridley Scott’s one have been released. These editions removed this and altered Decker’s character making him seem more on the edge, less in control (Bukatman ,1997) The major change was deepening the likelihood of Deckard being replicant by using scenes with origami unicorns and Decker’s dreams.
Another effect of changing the narration was to reduce the racial prejudice. In the book, an advertisement for androids promises to ‘duplicate the halcyon days of the pre-Civil War Southern states”. These’custom-tailored humanoid robots’could serve as’tireless fieldhands’, the ad suggests. Blade Runner preserves Dick’s analogy, as well as the’passing narrative’of escaped slaves that underlies the novel. Replicants are passing for human rather than for white, but at one time, of course, blacks were not’defined’as human by American slave-holding interests (Bukatman , 1997, p75).
Bukatman, S. (1997) ‘Blade runner’. London: British Film Institute.