Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Do androids dream of electronic origami?

Note:  This post was originally drafted on 4/27/2014 and never published.  I found it on the cyber shelf and dusted it off, in light of this recent development.

Representational unicorn, enhanced from what appeared in the movie

Linked to an old NYPost piece by Janet Hamilton:
Blade Runner (1982) takes place in 21st century L.A., when most life on the planet has been killed off by pollution.  A former cop, Deckard (Harrison Ford), is recruited to track down and kill Replicants (androids) who have mutinied in space and made their way to Earth.  Gaff (Edward James Olmos) is to ensure that Deckard goes through with his mission.  Through the course of the movie Gaff makes three origami creatures, a "chicken", a "man" made out of a wooden match, and a unicorn.  The character and his art are symbolic of mankind taking the sacrilegious leap from simply making "graven images" of gods work (the origami) to making things nearly indiscernible from gods creations (the Replicants).  [Not in article: The original Blade Runner unicorn was designed by Mick Guy, current president of the British Origami Society.] From a July 2007 interview with Ridley Scott: "RS: The unicorn has been in, out, in, out, and it was always essential to me, because it's essential for the audience to understand that Deckard is a replicant. And the whole design of Gaff [Edward James Olmos] and his trail of origami--the paper chicken and the little matchstick man--and then the origami [Deckard] picks up at the end and it's his unicorn. And Harrison Ford does a nod in agreement to what he just sees as a confirmation of the big internalized thought that he has, that he may have thought."

Basauri Con 1.0 Febreruary 6th 2010

Here is Ridley Scott confirming that his direction of the movie was indeed to have Deckard be a replicant:

I think it would have been better for Ridley Scott to keep it to himself and allow the fans to remain wondering and interpreting for themselves. 

As a YouTube commenter Jared Wignall wrote:

All the new versions basically force you to believe he's a replicant. The original work print is, in my opinion, the real version. Also, the narration that Deckard had originally in the film has been taken out, to take away his humanity. The eye glowing wasn't originally there, but is now there in later versions.
Here are some valid reasons as to why he isn't by someone's blog that analyzed the film very well. I've taken 8 of the 18 reasons the guy wrote in a blog that are very well illustrated to the fact that he's human. These reasons are also kinda out of order:

1. Deckard expresses feelings throughout the film, including his distaste for ‘retiring replicants’, and shows emotion facially which none of the Nexus 6 replicants do; even the super-advanced model Rachel has difficulty expressing feelings (the Voigt Kampf test is used to detect the absence of emotional response in replicants)
2. Deckard was married – this is not an implanted memory like that of a replicant, but is stated as a fact by Deckard
3. Deckard is afraid of being one of the ‘little people’ – none of the replicants exhibit fear
4. Apart from their programmed aggression, the only emotions replicants appear to have developed centre around a desire to extend their lifespans

5. The police chief has used Deckard’s services for many years, whereas Roy’s gang are Nexus 6 – the current highest spec commercial model, so Deckard could not have been made better at an earlier time
6. Deckard does not require or carry any photographs
7. Deckard does not have the physical strength or endurance shown by the replicants, e.g. he is easily defeated by Leon and would have been killed if he not rescued by Rachel, physically he is powerless against Pris even though she has only days to live, Roy has the strength and speed to stop Deckard from falling and haul him to safety at a time when he is unable to save himself
8. The origami unicorn Deckard finds outside his apartment stands perfectly well in the original version of the film as a symbol of fertility and good fortune – hence Deckard’s self-affirming expression at finding it, rather than alarm he would have expressed at being given a message to confirm that he was a replicant.

These are very great reasons as to why he is not a replicant. The fact that Ridley Scott is forcing the thought of him being a replicant isn't good. As much of a great filmmaker as he is, and I love his films, I think he should let the viewers decide for themselves instead of writing the thought of Deckard being human.

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