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Millar's Blade Runner theory thread - SPOILERS!!!


#1

Okay, here’s my thoughts. Don’t read on unless you’ve seen the movie and if you haven’t go see it as it’s one of the best movies of the decade.

So here’s what I’m thinking…

Villeneuve lands the plane better than any other director right now. Even Spielberg fucks up his third acts sometimes, it’s the hardest part of any movie and we’re often let down after a great first couple of acts, but DV just never fails and his endings are so good and always bear so much more thought that they superficially appear.

The ending to this movie is great, the ‘Son Of’ plot seeming like a cool twist we worked out early on and then neatly pulled from us when we find out who the baby really was. But the bit of the movie that I couldn’t stop thinking about was Gosling lying dying in the snow and looking at his hand as the snowflakes were landing and the camera stayed here way longer than otherwise needed, alerting us to this scene’s importance. The shift then to the sealed-off chamber and the snow image continued inside as the girl works on a fake memory felt like a massive alarm bell too. Why was she still working on this? why wasn’t she turning around? The actress was continuing this so we could see what was happening and what she was working on. I went to bed wondering about this last night and I woke up this morning thinking about it too. Here’s what I reckon:

Gosling (or K) is about as real as his AI girlfriend from earlier in the movie. He’s only in this story as a fake memory of Deckard’s and all his scenes just fake memories.

Why? Because the first movie left us wondering if Deckard was real all the way to Olmos giving him the origami unicorn and letting him know that his unicorn dreams were all pre-programmed. The debate was always whether Deckard was a replicant or whether he was human and this movie answers that question. This was secretly the ENTIRE POINT of it, even though it superficially seemed like Gosling was the protagonist. The horse was a fake memory put inside Gosling’s head (a visual relative of the unicorn from the first movie to flag it up to us) to bring him to Deckard, but the WHOLE THING (including Gosling’s existence) was a fake memory that was sent to Deckard to bring him to his daughter after years of estrangement.

Nothing this director does is accidental. Nothing is wasted. The AI girlfriend earlier with snowflakes falling on her wrist replicated by Gosling later in the movie, when he realised he was never a real, is there to hammer home this point. Like Fight Club, he existed nowhere else beyond the mind of another character in this movie and every event prior to Deckard coming into the picture was fake, hinted at by Gosling’s boss too when she says he has no soul and he pauses for a second, almost in recognition of his unreality.

The final clue? His name.

His was called K and later Joe. His name is thus Joe-K or Joke.

He was never real and the girl even talks about leaving these little clues in here when she makes the fake memories.

I KNEW that ending was alerting me to something when it bore a hole in my brain last night and this is it. This is why that snow-storm was happening in the background. This was our clue. The question about whether Deckard is human or not is thus answered. He’s not and she’s sending him these fake memories remotely as we saw her do.

This also makes the baby being born all the more chilling and amazing. Two robots just created a new life and man becomes obsolete.

A God-Damn Hollywood masterpiece.

MM

PS My pals and I watched Blade Runner before we went out yesterday to see 2049 and the structural similarities between the movies actually very apparent when you watch them together, the same plot blueprint across each movie. But it also struck me that they both also have same structure as Angel Heart, the man out there hunting himself with a satanic god-like figure sending him off on that merry chase.


#3

I love this theory and will definitely have to go and see the film again with this in mind. I have to say my initial reading of it was that if ‘K’ shares all the same memories as the daughter then, from a certain point of view, he is the daughter.

They have “lived” the same life (up until the point ‘K’ was created/born). When he thought he was the child those memories were real to him - do those memories stop being real to him because he knows they aren’t his? I don’t think so. Our memories are what inform us of the life we have lived; if he has those memories, then he has lived that life.

So, when Deckard asks him, “What am I to you?” the answer is “your child”. He has “lived” the same life (up to a point) as Deckard’s child and so, to him, he is Deckard’s child; that’s real to him. The parallel of the snowfall suggests that ‘K’ and the daughter (despite being two separate physical entities) are the same person because they have lived the same life.


#4

Skipping thread! Perfect review, so far, right there!

Will my bladder still do 2h 45m?


#5

The thing is that when Blade Runner came out, there really was no big question as to whether Deckard was or was not a Replicant. It wasn’t a mystery in that sense. What was more important was whether Deckard was or was not a good man or if Roy and the Replicants were really the good ones and only criminal because the world was corrupt.

In this film, I think Gosling is certainly real - he’s not a hallucination everyone is having or a fake memory that Deckard has had just before seeing his daughter. However, I do believe that the daughter certainly has been putting those memories in various replicant’s minds.

When you look at it that way, it calls the whole movie into question. First, there are some odd inconsistencies to the story. Deckard says that he left Rachel well before she had the baby. So who carved the date 6.10.21 into the trunk of the tree? The daughter? It doesn’t seem likely she would’ve been old enough. Was that supposed to be the date of Rachel’s death? Was Deckard there when Rachel died giving birth? That seems strange since the impression I got was that he never saw his daughter. Also, he carved that horse while living in Vegas (the radiation, remember) when he would have already left Rachel, so how did the daughter get it as a child?
why would it have the same date carved into it especially if that is the date of Rachel’s death and his daughter’s birth? I didn’t really get a good sense of the past sequence of events, and that may be because they were entirely manipulated by the woman creating memories. Currently, the assumption is that memories can only be implanted prior to the production of the replicant. That new memories cannot be implanted on a finished replicant. I didn’t see any indication of a Total Recall type of memory making device.

However, it is possible that the daughter had been planting her memories into various replicants knowing that eventually it would drive them to organize, find Deckard and bring him to her. Even the “Pris” lookalike seemed to recognize the horse, so does she also share the same memory? Though, I wasn’t convinced that there was really any good motivation for that. I’m actually not convinced anything in the movie is very sound - it didn’t make a lot of sense while watching it. This film seemed to be much more about improbable twists in an overly convoluted mystery while the original film had what was essentially a very simple mystery. Deckard needs to find the replicants and retire them while they need to reach Tyrell. There was very little in that story that left you questioning if what was happening was really happening. Whether or not Deckard himself was a Replicant really doesn’t matter to BLADE RUNNER’s story.


#6

I almost faceplamed when I realised that gag in the cinema…


#8

SPOILERS AHEAD! WARNING!

One alternate interpretation similar to this is, Dr. Stelline (Deckard and Rachel’s daughter) created K’s memories to drive him to find Deckard and set in motion events that could bring Deckard to Dr. Stelline, but it’s all really happening and not a false memory in Deckard’s mind. I think, in light of some of the film’s events impacting the story’s real-life events too much (including moments that transpire without K or Deckard being present to see or know about them, in fact even being secret from them – like Luv’s and Lieutenant Joshi’s confrontation), it makes more sense if the entirety of the film isn’t all artificial in as literal a sense. This still allows for much of this post’s theory to apply, and I think it’s spot-on to interpret K’s memories as clearly having been created by Stelline and implanted as not only a cover-up (to help hide her own identity by transposing it onto K) but also a sort of key or trigger that, when set in motion, could guide K to Deckard and lead them to deduce the truth about Stelline’s identity.

I think some of the visual symbolism though is not meant as literal as this theory suggests – the connection between Joi’s snowflakes visual, Stelline’s snow visual, and K’s snowflakes actually feels more emotionally resonant when it’s less literal, and more about K’s comprehension of his own artificiality similar to Joi’s but also that he felt “real” and therefore could perceive a final more heartfelt connection to Joi as having been “real” in his life, sort of both of them coming a few steps closer together conceptually, and that his experiences are still rooted by real memories and real emotions from Stelline, and yet also that his experiences are ultimately also driven by artificiality and hence the symbolic connection between his last “real” experience before death and the false imagery Stelline is creating when we see her.

Anyway, gonna see it a few more times in the coming days, and will keep your larger theory in mind as I’m watching, to see if subsequent viewings reinforce and support your theory even better upon multiple viewings!


#9

This was also my interpretation. I think this plays into the entire ambiguity of the movie, seeing her create this ‘snowfall’ memory as K dies hammered this home for me. Could there be a possible shared consciousness between K and Dr. Stelline? Reverting back to the scene where Joi seemingly melded with Mariette. Arghhh, I love when this happens, but my brain can’t take it.


#10

Not sure about that, but as a sequel 2049 was right up there with Godfather 2 and Empire. A perfect development of the first film, exploring the same tone and themes in a much more profound and interesting way, entirely faithful but without retreading or copying anything. After Sicario and Arrival, Villeneuve is a genius.

My only quibbles were the slow first third, annoyingly mumbly sound mix, and one-note supporting characters. But it’s noir homage, among other things, so I guess the black and white nature was deliberate.

I love Harrison Ford in anything, and he was perfectly deployed in this. Ryan Gosling’s performance was a home run, gradually ramping up the emotional intensity in a moving evocation of what it means to be alive, never less than unique while channelling Deckard & Roy Batty. Wonderful stuff.


#11

Mark, I love your enthusiasm around the film. I really enjoyed what you said on twitter regarding the people who made it and how proud they should be.

Most of your theory has to do with the fact that the end shot cuts to the girl making memories of snow. I choose to believe it is much more likely a beautiful transition – just as the film transitioned from the embers rising from the fire (when the replicants picked up a battered K) to the shot of the lights of downtown LA.

Moreover, when I consider your theory – that these are Deckard’s memories, there are complications I can’t resolve and it just doesn’t seem likely. So I chalk it up to a beautiful transition. As there are many in this film.


#12

Been thinking about this. I think the only way this scenario works is if it’s all some Inception type thing were it’s all a dream or if the old Deckard is dead and this is a new Replicant with implanted memories that Wallace possibly put out there to help smoke the child born to he and Rachel had out.

Edit: I think a lot of these things are visual cues meant to link scenes and ideas.