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Comparing Ridley Scott's Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

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Comparing Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner" and Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?


How do we know that we are human and, if we are human, what does it mean to be human? These two philosophical inquiries are explored in great depth in Ridley Scott's film "Blade Runner", and of course the text of Philip K. Dick's wonderful novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? on which the film is based. Most would agree that these themes exist in the novel, but a handful of critics and academics have some doubt as to their presence in the film. If one examines both the film and the text, one will realize that they both serve to support the same motifs, but do so in different fashions. Many critics argue that the awesome visuals overwhelm the contents of the plot and theme, but I argue that the visuals depicting Los Angeles in the year 2019 help to advance the themes. Viewers often miss the human side of the story or lack there of, and may object to the strong visuals for this reason. It can be argued that the visuals serve to portray a dehumanized world where only subtle signs of humanity's existence are dispersed throughout, where existentialist notions such as what being human is and what being human means are not easily answered.

To briefly summarize the plot, Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a cop from the future (blade runner) who tracks down and kills replicants, which are basically artificially created human beings. In other films, they are usually referred to as androids. Specifically, his assignment is to find and kill five replicants who have escaped from an off-world colony and come to earth. The most interesting parts of "Blade Runner" are Deckard's interactions with the various replicants, especially Ra...


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... also feel sympathy for Deckard. The film illustrates that both are in a struggle to become more human, Deckard because he is slowly losing his humanity, and the androids because they have never had the experience of humanity, but desire it. This sympathy for both entities further reinforces the blur that Scott is creating between the android and the human. Because the film does this so effectively, we can easily ask the question, "what makes a human more deserving of life than an android?"

Essentially, when all is said and done, "Blade Runner" is really a film about questions, questions that we should ask ourselves of humanity. What is a human? What does it mean to be human? Do humans have more of a right to life than replicants? Have humans and androids become the same thing? It is not so important that one answers these questions, but that he or she asks them.


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