Filmsite Movie Review 100 Greatest Films
Blade Runner (1982)
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The Story (continued)

Fascinated, but horrified and repulsed by the murder, viewed through a tall candlebra, Sebastian darts away in terror and panic as Roy ominously advances closer. [In the Final Cut, a new line was added as Roy whispered apologetically: "I'm sorry, J.F."] The replicant owl's eyes reflect a luminous red color. Shivering and in shock, a dazed and saddened Roy (with tears flowing down his cheeks) descends alone in the elevator from the top of the Pyramid building. In one of the film's best subjective moments, he looks up at a heavenly night sky full of receding stars, viewed through the clear top of the elevator's glass-domed roof.

On a rain-swept, deserted street where a scavenging street gang walks, Deckard is informed by car radio of the death of Tyrell and a "25 year old male Caucasian" Sebastian (J.F. Sebastian's death occurs off-screen) in The Bradbury Apartments in the Ninth Sector, N.F. 46751 - Bryant instructs him to "go down there." Just then, a police patrol spinner descends and hovers next to Deckard's sedan, questioning him. When the spinner cop departs after checking his credentials, he offers a parting farewell: "Have a better one." Deckard calls Sebastian's place using his in-dash VidPhone. Pris answers and is briefly seen on the screen, but when told that "Eddie, an old friend of J. F.'s" is calling, she abruptly hangs up, and he adds: "That's no way to treat a friend." As he pulls away, street urchins are stealing parts from his car.

Deckard pulls up in front of the dark apartment, and cautiously approaches with his gun blaster drawn. Cross-cut with his approach are a series of quick views of Pris wearing a veil and making darting movements with her head, listening to his stealthy entrance with a heightened sense of hearing. He enters the apartment and steps warily into Sebastian's workroom. Deckard is quickly mesmerized by the engineer's toys, unaware that Pris, sitting stiffly poised and perfectly still under a veil to emulate the creations, is his adversary. One of the toys makes a hideous laugh as he makes his way around. Another quivering nervous toy has a large, red-tipped phallic-like nose.

When he carefully bends forward and removes her veil, she ferociously kicks him in the chest, sending him flying across the room. With acrobatic prowess, she turns complete flipping cartwheels towards him, and then lands squarely astraddle Deckard's shoulders. With her strong, muscled legs and thighs, she very nearly squeezes the life from him in a thigh-hold around his neck, and tries to twist his head off. She violently boxes both his ears three times. He is brought down to the ground - she attacks him a second time with another series of gymnastic cartwheels.

In a grisly death scene, he shoots a hole in her stomach. The first bullet sends her into a wall upside down, and she bloodily falls to the floor, screaming and writhing in agony, flailing her hands and feet in a series of seizures and convulsions as she desperately fights for life. The second and third bullets cause her body to arch up off the floor as she dies. [Note: There was no third bullet in the Director's Cut. The Final Cut restored the entire planned sequence, as all three shots were shown being fired and striking Pris' body.] [Deckard has now killed only two of the four replicants - both are female, and the first one was shot in the back.]

Arriving back at the apartment, Roy discovers Pris' dead body with her tongue protruding from her mouth. In a sensual, intimate moment in the obliquely-cold film, a teary-eyed and grieved Roy kisses her corpse soulfully and caresses her tongue. When he pulls away from her mouth, he repositions her tongue within her mouth so that she doesn't die looking like an animal. Ready to strike by a doorway, Deckard attempts to ambush Roy, firing but missing because of the replicant's quick reflexes. Roy angrily taunts him, questioning whether his successful hunt to skillfully kill both Zhora and Pris makes him a good man - or heroic man:

Not very sporting to fire on an unarmed opponent. I thought you were supposed to be good. Aren't you the good man? Come on, Deckard. Show me what you're made of.

The protracted cat-and-mouse chase and battle between a replicant killer and an anti-human is suspenseful, long, brutal, and vivid. Deckard moves to a new attack position, gun-readied beside a wall dripping with streams of water. Cunningly, Roy punches his hand through the wall to grab Deckard's gun hand and pull it through the gaping hole to the other side of the wall: "Proud of yourself, little man?" After tearing the blaster from his right hand, in a shocking sequence, Roy uses his superior strength to slowly and ruthlessly break two of Deckard's fingers in retaliation for the deaths of his female replicant friends: "This is for Zhora...This is for Pris." Then he replaces the gun in Deckard's hand, daring him: "Come on, Deckard. I'm right here, but you've got to shoot straight." Deckard pulls his gun hand back transfers the gun to his left hand. He fires his last projectile through the hole in the wall and tears off Roy's right ear: "Straight doesn't seem to be good enough."

Then, Roy prepares him for the next stage in their battle, turning the tables on Deckard and making him the hunted: "Now it's my turn. I'm gonna give you a few seconds before I come. One, Two, Three, Four, Pris...." Roy is sidetracked at the side of Pris' bloody corpse - he runs a hand across her body and dips his fingers into her stomach wound, after which he brings his hand to his mouth. Meanwhile, Deckard turns and scrambles around the apartment. He painfully resets his broken fingers, letting out a scream: "Arrghhh." Roy lets go with an inhuman wolf-like howl (at the same time, the Vangelis score howls), and then continues his count, using a rhyming cadence: "Four, Five, How to stay alive."

Having removed most of his clothes and covered with some of Pris' blood [in preparation for a savage or sacred rite], Roy chases Deckard as he attempts to escape from the abandoned apartment. The hunted blade runner climbs up a large bureau with shelves, dropping his gun in the process, and emerges into a bathroom on the next level up through a small hole in the ceiling. Deckard pulls himself through the hole next to an overflowing toilet bowl and hides there. Roy's hand is seen clenching and cramping, a sign that his life span is nearing an end. He bites his hand, crying: "Not yet, not..." To halt the aging process, he pulls an old nail spike with superhuman strength from a rotting piece of the building and drives it through the palm of his own hand [suggesting a symbol of crucifixion], where it re-emerges from the back of his hand.

Roy butts his head like a battering ram through the marble-tiled bathroom wall (patterned like a chessboard), taunting him again: "You better get it up, or I'm gonna have to kill ya. Unless you're alive, you can't play, and if you don't play..." Roy shakes his head, again experiencing a momentary life failure. This gives Deckard a chance to rip a piece of pipe from the wall to use as a weapon. When Roy emerges in the bathroom, resuming his count (with another God reference): "Six, Seven, go to Hell or go to Heaven," (revealing Roy's knowledge of his own impending death), Deckard strikes him twice across the face with the pipe, but Roy hardly feels it. He grabs the pipe and encourages further life-affirming competition: "That's the spirit."

Their conflict extends from Sebastian's home to other apartments in the near-abandoned Bradbury building to its finale on the rooftops, always on the move upward. As the fight progresses, Deckard kicks out a window and walks out on the building's ledge, high above the street. He nearly falls as he grabs a swinging triangular piece of iron piping on the outside of the window, and then cautiously inches his way around a corner of the building. Roy blocks his route by kicking out a different window and appearing in front of him, telling Deckard: "That hurt. That was irrational of you. Not to mention unsportsman-like. Ha, ha, ha. Where are you going?"

With broken fingers on one hand rendering it entirely useless, Deckard makes his way up to the roof, beginning an amazing, difficult climb up the side of the building in the rain. When he reaches the top after his torturous ascent, he lies exhausted and weary, surrounded by large, slowly-turning windmill blades - defunct power generators of some kind. Roy follows him up to the roof. Deckard makes a run for it, leaping from the rooftop across a yawning gulf to the adjacent rooftop, but he has badly misjudged the distance. He falls short and hangs precariously, clinging and struggling defiantly to barely grip an overhanging girder to survive. He dangles high above the pavement. His own life forces on the wane as well, Roy holds onto a living creature - a white dove [a symbolic Jesus reference]. He pauses with his arms folded and crossed over his chest, possibly sharing with Deckard his fear of impending death.

Then, Roy effortlessly leaps across the span between the buildings, turns, and looks down empathically (and understandingly) at the blade runner:

Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave.

[Leon had earlier said the same thing to Deckard, "Painful to live in fear, isn't it?...," but with an angry and aggressive tone.] As Deckard's grip with a broken hand begins to weaken and fail [and in parallel, there is nothing that can be done about Roy's own waning life], he loses one hand's hold and then the other without begging to be saved. Roy reflexively catches Deckard's wrist in mid-air over empty space with his spiked hand. He shouts out "Kinship" [suggesting that he knows Deckard is a replicant - maybe the 6th one?], pulls him up to safety, and drops him on the roof. [This is the second time a replicant has saved Deckard's life.] They stand face-to-face for a long moment.

In a supreme moment of emotional intensity, the created-android Roy graciously lets him live in his own final, living act. Ironically, he appears to find his soul, develop human feelings and an empathic response, and lose his intrinsically evil nature. He spares Deckard's life in a supreme act of choice and redemption. Still with the dove in his hand, Roy sits down in front of the dazed Deckard and delivers a climactic, majestic soliloquy from the depths of his heart with the rain streaming down his face - washing it [a baptismal symbol of cleansing, absolution and rebirth]. At the very moment of his own termination, he acquires the human capacities of caring and benevolence.

His swan song is truly moving as he eloquently speaks about his own memories of the distant outposts in space that will be lost forever when he dies. His android memories, as a top-of-the-line combat model, speak of violent and aggressive attacks (attack ships, C-beams) that he presumably witnessed:

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.

And then with a half-smile (before saying "Time to die") on his face [possibly the only sincere smile in the entire film] at the moment of his death, his head slumps down, and the white dove of peace [a symbol of Christianity's Holy Spirit, love, hope, etc.] is released. Its flight, symbolic of Roy's death and Deckard's rebirth, is captured in slow motion as it flies upward toward a blue sky, with a swelling of the Vangelis score. [The blue sky is the sole moment in the Director's Cut of the film when the sky isn't rainy and dark. The supplemental epilogue in the theatrical version also had views of blue sky. The Final Cut changed the background to a still-raining, dimly lit morning sky. The final two sentences: "All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die" were not in David Webb People's original script. It was reported that Hauer added the speech improvisationally during a script reading, and the lines worked and were retained.]

In the narration that follows, Deckard achieves empathy and muses, in voice-over, about the replicant's love of life. While acquiring humanistic qualities, Deckard also regards the replicants as more than mere machines or manufactured commodities:

I don't know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments, he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life, anybody's life, my life. All he'd wanted were the same answers the rest of us want. Where do I come from? Where am I going? How long have I got? All I could do was sit there and watch him die.

Behind Roy's dead body in a death-like Buddha pose, a police spinner slowly rises. Gaff's voice is heard complimenting Deckard [This is the ONLY instance in the entire film, three sentences worth, in which Gaff speaks in English] - with an implication about Deckard's true nature:

Gaff: You've done a man's job, sir. I guess you're through, huh?
Deckard: Finished. (Gaff throws Deckard the firearm that he had dropped earlier during the chase. He turns to leave, walks a few steps, and then turns back.)
Gaff: (cryptically) It's too bad she won't live. But then again, who does?

Deckard returns to his own apartment, exiting the elevator to find his front door suspiciously open. He readies himself with his firearm, and warily calls out Rachael's name, suspecting that she is there but possibly dead. In his bedroom, he finds her sleeping under a tangle of sheets. He tenderly kisses and awakens her:

Deckard: Do you love me?
Rachael: I love you.
Deckard: Do you trust me?
Rachael: I trust you. (He kisses her again.)

Cautiously and with gun drawn, he moves with Rachael toward the elevator in the corridor. Along the way outside his apartment, Rachael's shoe knocks over a very small, silver, tinfoil origami-folded unicorn, one of Gaff's sculptured, calling-card creations. Its unique shiny, silvery color is different from all the other origami creations. When Deckard picks up Gaff's origami unicorn to inspect it, his memory echoes Gaff's words on the rooftop:

It's too bad she won't live. But then again, who does?

Deckard nods his acknowledgment, realizing that Gaff was there at the apartment where Rachael had been sleeping, but didn't kill her when he had the chance. The sinister Gaff also acquired empathy and let Rachael live - after all, she only had a short time to live anyway with her reduced lifespan.

[Is the mythical horse, different from all ordinary horses, a symbol of Rachael herself - a unique replicant that doesn't have a limited life-span? In the Director's Cut, director Scott inserted the "unicorn reverie" - a dream sequence of Deckard's 'implanted memory' of a unicorn. Gaff wouldn't have known of Deckard's dream, unless it was implanted. The appearance of the unicorn origami model was a likely sign that Gaff knew what Deckard was thinking or dreaming, because it was an image shared by other non-humans. It's probable that the mythical unicorn symbolizes that Gaff knows (as an inside joke) that Deckard is a replicant too, with fabricated or copied memories.]

Deckard joins Rachael in the elevator - he has found love with a replicant under the most unlikely of circumstances. The elevator doors close on Deckard and Rachael as they leave to escape the law.

The film ends here in the revised 1992 Director's Cut.

In a tacked-on ending, with a happy denouement, Deckard and Rachael have left the city and are driving in a police spinner through an uninhabited wilderness, although they appear to be soaring through clear blue skies -- toward Canada (northward, to freedom - from slavery?). [The scenes of their soaring over pristine landscapes were unused, second unit out-takes from Stanley Kubrick's opening montage in The Shining (1980).]

Deckard's final voice-over narration ends the film, explaining that Rachael was a special replicant without a pre-set termination date. But she still has a finite, indeterminate life span - the inevitable fate of all human beings:

Gaff had been there, and let her live. Four years, he figured. He was wrong. Tyrell had told me Rachael was special: no termination date. I didn't know how long we had together. Who does?

Also Worth Considering:
Blade Runner (1982)


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