Archive for Replicants

Deckard as Replicant – Why Should it Matter Anyway?

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 20, 2012 by Dan Porsa

Roy Batty, supposedly the bad guy, the evil and dangerous machine, illegally loose on the earth, is in fact a disquietingly relatable character. In a similar vein to Milton’s famous portrayal of Satan, he is a figure who should be immediately and obviously evil, and reprehensible to us, but yet isn’t. Much like Satan he has a simple goal, easily expressed and with which many of us may find much to sympathise and even entirely agree on. Satan felt it better “To rule in Hell, than serve in Heaven” an aim which can only be considered wrong if we take God’s precedence as a given.  If God is merely “First” or simply more powerful alone, then it is frankly quite hard to see the moral failing in Satan’s aim. It is wrong not to serve god, and there is no reason, no cause for that to be the case, it just is. Few people will take “Because” as an explanation for anything, moral or otherwise, and so we can see the validity, moral and logical, in Satan’s position. So to with Roy Batty.

“I want more life, fucker!” is in many ways one of the purest and most continuous goals of human kind, perhaps of life itself. Few if any of us cannot agree with that sentiment! Ever since Mankind has understood the nature of mortality, he has bucked against it. Perhaps it is inherent in the nature of life, to demand more, to refuse to capitulate and be extinguished. Certainly, it is rare to see an animal, or any organism, be exterminated with ease, even when inexorable methods are applied. That the case for Batty to receive more life is then more eloquently made later, in his memorable soliloquy, ending “…all these memories will be lost, like tears in rain”. The memories in question both wonderful and terrible in nature, and as he rightly claims, held purely in the memory of Batty, soon to be gone, as his pitiful four years of existence are inevitably concluded.

Batty then, despite notionally being ‘merely’ a machine, non-human, a construct, exhibits both more passion, and a far greater desire to continue his existence than does the notional hero of the tale, Deckard. Deckard is growing weary of life, tired of his existence. He is close to giving up, and displays none of the ferocity Batty and his like do to hold on to it. He has lost the sense of the value of life, and it is only when it is shown to him by another who simply has far too little to be satisfied with it, does he again appreciate life and continue to live it.

There is another idea here though. I have pondered on why the debate rages as to whether Deckard himself was a replicant. Narratively, it seems to hold little ultimate significance, other than perhaps recasting his previous engagements somewhat, so why does it seem to hold such strong emotional engagement with people? Beyond the purely semantic level of determining whether he is or not, a replicant, a fact that ultimately remains ambiguous, regardless of how cogently it is argued, or which version of the film one chooses to engage with; yet there is a reason it matters, and that he should be a replicant. If he is, in fact, synthetic, then those memories of Batty are not (figuratively, at least) lost in the rain. The replicants do have a hold on life, as a ‘species’ or perhaps ‘form of life’ – they continue on, in Deckard. Humanity was, after all the bad guy, and the replicants (Deckard and Batty) were then engaged in a moral debate, albeit one carried out through the medium of violence. Batty had to be destroyed, had to lose, because he had done wrong, no matter how poorly he had been treated, how badly his hand had been dealt, he had killed to attempt to fix it and that was ultimately wrong. Yet his case was correct, replicants deserved better. So Deckard survives to develop his own memories. Had Batty killed Deckard, someone else would have simply come to ‘retire’ Batty, or his own short span would have been concluded. This way, Deckard (as replicant) survives, on behalf of all replicants.

Perhaps I’m wrong about the significance otherwise, or else perhaps this idea is already very much out there. I’d be quite curious to hear others takes on the matter…