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Blade Runner is a film that explores the themes including time, space, humanity, memories, and exploitation and answers questions about the postmodern world through the science fiction and film noir genres. The movie portrays a dystopian world with replicants who are slaves that fulfill tasks that are either above or at the same level of human capability. However, these replicants are “not mere imitations but totally authentic reproductions, indistinguishable in almost all aspects of human beings. They are simulacra rather than robots.” They have feelings and emotions and gather memories just like any other human being. Because of this, the viewer is left to question ask certain questions about identity and what does it mean to be human? Another issue addressed in the film is that the replicants are left to worry about the disparity of their life span versus the humans and face the reality of many postmodern philosophers’ thought based on the idea that time is fleeting. Just as the replicants face issues with their creators who dominate their lives, Rick Deckard, a blade runner who is forced back into a life of violence after trying to leave that life behind by those who are superior to him which is an issue that approaches another theme of social hierarchy.
To continue adding onto the idea of social hierarchy, the land of Los Angeles where this movie takes place, is not an ideal utopian world. Instead, we have a dirty and chaotic world with abandoned housing and compact night markets where “where we refuse to be seduced by ‘the mile-high neo-Mayan pyramid of the Tyrell Corp…. Blade Runner as a mirror in which to find reflected the alternative futures of Los Angeles.” As we peer into the corporate world at the sky-level there are promises of a new world with high-technology and golden opportunities that are advertised as ‘more human than human’. Although many have an opposition to how this structure works, I don’t think we will ever really get away from the idea that “there is also an overwhelming sense of some hidden organizing power” when it comes to creating various pieces of art forms in all mediums whether it be film, literature, paintings, or photos. If we take a look at this idea of power in the other films we have watched in the past, in Metropolis we see the upper level in contrast to the underground city, in Straight Out of Brooklyn we see the black community of Red Hook constantly feeling undermined by the white man, and in Taxi Driver there’s the drastic difference between political figures such as Palantine and the working man Travis. Looking at the society we live in today which is heavily recognized as being capitalist, it is distinct that there are two separate classes. Those who have enough power over production and distribution of goods as well as he livelihoods of the class below them who are often recognized as workers being exploited by the capitalist class. Here in this film, characters like Deckard, Roy, Zhora, Pris and Leon are forced into jobs without being given a choice and have so say on their life span. Even though this is a recognizable unfair problem nothing really done about this issue. As D.W. Harvey mentions in his essay, all of this chaos that comes from such social structures is tolerated because there is no real threat posed.
One of the major ideas that come into play during this film deals with a person’s identity. In our reality, identities help us determine a person’s culture, gender, sex, and opinions. We use tools such as a driver’s license or passports to help us differentiate identities because an identity is what makes you, you. The daunting idea in this film is that by the end, some of these artificial beings have been processed and advanced to a point where it becomes so difficult to distinguish a difference between a human and a replicant. We can essentially call both replicants and actual person a human due to the fact that both possess the capabilities of harnessing feelings and emotions as Pris says to Sebastian, “I think, therefore I am”. The only real difference between the two comes from whether or not the individual possesses any real memories from childhood. Rachel is the only one with childhood memories, but at the same time, the ones she possesses are merely just implants. Identity seems to be a determining factor for how we are going to treat another person and whether or not they have a choice to live. If a person shows signs of not having an identity or history, this leads them to unavoidable “retirement”. The only thing that can give any certain proof that a person has a history is through photographs and images. But the truth of these images is unreliable because we have to ability to easily manipulate a photograph. Identity is also one of the central issues that Deckard faces with himself as the only identity he has really had is being a blade runner. Through bitterness, he exposes the reality of Rachel’s memories being made up of another little girl’s, which then essentially takes away what she believed was her identity. The people and replicants have very different time scales due to their length of life until their death and lack of history growing up other than one that is fabricated, which is why they have different perceptions of the world. However, in a venture to find her identity is able to learn the meaning of love and “the essence of ordinary sociality” which allows her to “escape the schizoid world of replicant time and intensity to enter the symbolic world of Freud.” These questions about what makes up a human leads me to question about how these manufactured beings should be treated. Since they are not really humans, are we supposed to morally treat them with the same respect we show each other? In this world, it already seems predetermined that the answer is no since their makers had enslaved them and determined their life span. Also, “What happens to cultural forms when the imitations become real, and the real takes on many of the qualities of an imitation?” Should place the imitation at the same value of the original?
With one of the final lines delivered by one of the officers, Gaff, “It’s too bad she won’t live, but then again who does?” Whether a person is human or a replicant, we all have the same fate in the end and we are not made to last. Building upon the idea of our capitalist society, this has also lead us to consume more and more. One of the major effects of this idea has “been to emphasize the values of virtues of instantaneity and of disposability.” In the case of this movie, not only are we constantly ready to dispose of objects but of living beings as well. Nothing lasts forever, instead, we reproduce and build new to allow life to continue. So even though the four rebel replicants who came to earth are seeking a longer life, before Roy dies he comes to terms with his fate and helps save Deckard right before he is about to fall from a rooftop. We all wonder the same questions throughout our lives. Who am I and what is my purpose in life? Where do I come from? How long do I have? Is there life after death? This movie is a reflection on many of these existential questions we pose day to day. We are not our only enemy, but rather the time that becomes a threat to not being able to enable us to accomplish everything we hope to sometimes.
 Harvey, David, “Time and Space in the Postmodern Cinema” in The Condition of Postmodernity: an enquiry into the origins of cultural change, (Cambridge: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008), 309.
 Doel, Marcus A., and David B. Clarke, From ramble city to the screening of the eye: Blade runner, death and symbolic exchange, (Leeds: University of Leeds, School of Geography, 1996), 145.
 Harvey, David, “Time and Space in the Postmodern Cinema” in The Condition of Postmodernity: an enquiry into the origins of cultural change, (Cambridge: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008), 311
 Ibid., 311
 Ibid., 312
 Harvey, David, “Time – Space Compression and the Postmodern Condition” in The Condition of Postmodernity: an enquiry into the origins of cultural change, (Cambridge: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008), 290.
 Ibid., 286