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In watching Blade Runner, the biggest impact for me wasn’t the possibility that limited life androids, space travel, off-world colonies, antigravity, and voice-controlled image enhancement could exist, or that our entire world seemed to be perpetually drenched in bleakness. Yes, that was some neat stuff, but when you’ve read and watched enough SF, this stuff can almost become mundane. Some of the most striking movements were just before and after the classic ‘tears in rain’ speech (tweaked the night before filming) by Rutger Hauer playing Roy Batty, an android on the cusp of death. The speech itself is quite impressive, and rightly occupies a place in the pantheon of awesome SF monologues.
The bits before and after the speech, however, are quite excellent philosophical brackets to it. Seconds before saving “everybody’s punching bag” Decker from plummeting to his death from the top of the Bradbury Building, Batty says:
Quite an experience to live in fear isn’t it… that’s what it is to be a slave.
A few minutes later (no matter what cut of Blade Runner you watch), there’s another deep statement, said by Gaff, Decker’s origami folding associate:
“It’s too bad she won’t live… but then again, who does?”
These philosophical points, on fear, and on death, might be two things to ponder in the coming year. We are slaves if we live in fear; and we should know that we will die, no matter what sort of techo-promises we are told. Science fiction can show us some amazing worlds, but like all great art, it can also remind us of some basic truisms.
- What other truisms has science fiction been good at reminding us of?
- What are some other metaphysically heavy SF films do you recommend?