On Philip K. Dick and Blade Runner 2049

Mv5bmtu1njqzodewnf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmdm5mjy2mzi._v1_sy500_cr00859500_al_Paul Youngquist at The Paris Review:

Rereleases of Blade Runner (seven total, but Ridley Scott had artistic control only over The Final Cut of 2007), clarify a decisive departure from Dick’s narrative: Deckard, too, is a replicant. Blade Runners kill for a living, making it hard to defend their humanity (Dick’s point). Why not make them replicants? Implanted memories make Deckard feel human. But he isn’t. As a Blade Runner he protects humans against predators like himself, while displaying plenty of empathy, most urgently for the alluring Rachel, with whom he absconds at movie’s end. Empathy can’t make human life sacred if replicants feel it, too. So much for the Voight-Kampff test—and Dick’s attempt to distinguish artificial from sacred life on the basis of feeling. Lucky for Deckard, the love of his replicant life enjoys an extended life span, which means he probably does, too.

Blade Runner 2049 picks up these hints from the original and runs with them. It’s a visually gorgeous film, panning, as it opens, a vast cityscape in ambient sfumato, architecture somewhere between Albert Speer, Bauhaus, and I. M. Pei. Sans-serif text reveals that replicants have seen improvements: there’s now a model with an extended life span, another capable of complete obedience. The opening scene ends with an obedient one, a Blade Runner called K (Ryan Gosling), carrying a bloody eyeball in a plastic bag toward his police-issue hover car parked in the sand. The eyeball belonged to Sapper Morton, a geriatric replicant leading a peaceful if illegal life in the desert as a grub farmer. After verifying a serial number embedded in that eyeball, K retired him. No need now for that clumsy empathy test.

more here.