The Reckoner!

Blade Runner Battle! Deckard: Replicant, or just a man, with a man's courage?

I'd like to say I was watching the movie Blade Runner recently, hence this question, but actually no.  I just think about Blade Runner extemporaneously, with no prompting, pretty much all the time.  This can include such situations as sitting at the DMV, buying ice cream, comparison shopping for socks, watching other movies that are not Blade Runner, and sitting at home in quiet introspection.

==WARNING: WE DO GET INTO SPOILER COUNTRY HERE. BE WARNED.==

So with The Reckoner! kicking around, I thought it was time to get the final official democratic, fan's-view answer to the central conundrum introduced by the Director's Cut: is Deckard himself actually a Replicant?

Usually the creators of movies that have a 'The Lady, or the Tiger?' element typically keep mum about which they think it is, but Ridley Scott certainly hasn't.  He pretty much insists that Deckard is a replicant about four times a month, to his own UPS delivery truck driver if he has to.  Harrison Ford's stated stance is 'hell, no!', although Scott recently insisted that Ford has given up on this perspective -- if anything because he doesn't care as much about it as Scott and he'd like Scott to keep needling him about it.

Folks, I really don't care what either of them have to say about this.  The key is what you believe (or want to believe) as you're watching it.  

  • If you think the whole 'Unicorn dream' concept is a smoking gun, and you like the twist that the man whose identity is grounded in running the blade against replicants is himself a replicant, then great.  
  • If you think that having the main character not be human lets some of the air out of the narrative by making the character unrelatable, or cheapening his awareness in the horrors of his chosen profession, then that's great as well.

In either case, I want to see what the world thinks. And you, fellow Reckonauts, can get to the bottom of this one for me.  So tell me!  Rick Deckard? Replicant, or just a man, with a man's courage?

Reckoning Results!
WINNER!
Replicant!
Not a Replicant!
Gaff origamied so!
What!? No!
67.2%
(39)
32.8%
(19)
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Reckoning Comments!

I personally never liked the idea of Deckard being a replicant, precisely because of how it skews the themes of Deckard and Batty's struggle.  

If Deckard is a man, the emotional crux of the plot is his realization that the beings he has viewed as appliances-gone-haywire (and himself as the ultimate handyman-of-last-resort), are as alive as he is.  And by extension, the concept of life is grounded in feeling alive -- that something having self-awareness and the desire to live means that it effectively is alive as we understand it.  It suggests that it's human provincialism and insecurity that makes us feel that only we can experience life or that our lives have privileged value on the basis of biological birth.  

In other words, we're all really unicorns, and the distinctions we draw behind 'real' and 'artificial' life are fleeting and arbitrary.  This is an interesting philosophical question.

If Deckard is a replicant, then that all goes out the window -- of course they're as alive as he is -- they're all replicants!  His panic at the end is basically just a manifestation of him thinking 'oh shit! I might be next!'.  This is not nearly as interesting.


Lighting tips off that Deckard may indeed be a replicant. There are 41 scenes where a bright, white light shines down on the characters. The light usually comes from an indistinguishable location on high. The light is first seen at the Tyrell Pyramid where the replicants are 'born' or made. From then on, the light is included in shots as follows:
Number of scenes where the light shines down on Replicants: 12 Number of scenes where the light shines down on Deckard: 12 Number of scenes where the light shines down on both: 17 Since the light shines down on Deckard, or the replicants, or both, I feel safe to admit this as one more hint that the filmmakers suggest Deckard is a replicant.


He's a replicant in the books right?  (I know the sequels are of dubious canonicity.) 


@Dan Lloyd,

He isn't in the Philip K. Dick book (which really doesn't have that much in common with Blade Runner besides the character names and basic context), but the movie tie-in 'sequel' books say he is.  Those books are of... lesser... quality, so I don't really consider them canon.


I think he's a replicant, like Rachel, and that he didn't realize that he was one.  That makes his taking off with Rachel at the end that much more poignant--who knows how long they have? 

Yes there are hints and clues in the movie.  The one that does it for me is all the "family" photos Decker has in his place, lots of them, going back to B/W photos, and maybe even tin-types. 

I was quite disappointed by the original book by Dick when I finally read it, not only because it was quite a different in tone and plot from the movie, but also because I thought the author missed an awesome opportunity to play up the religious savior angle.  In the end, I really had no idea what the author was trying to convey.


@Michael Clem

That happens in a lot of Dick novels and stories.  There are always a tremendous amount of great ideas in there, but I'm not sure if I've ever particularly liked him as a writer. I can't think of any author who has had a better book-to-movie record though.  Mario Puzo, maybe.


The Reckoner!