Blade Runner died an ugly death at the box office when it was released, but slowly found its audience over many years and seemingly just as many re-releases and edits of the original film. It’s worth revisiting, especially on the day that we finally see a teaser for its sequel.
While most people remember, and quote, the legendary “tears in the rain” speech that closed the film, one of the most terrifying moments takes place when replicant Roy Batty meets his literal maker, Dr. Eldon Tyrell.
Without rehashing the plot of the film — and Blade Runner remains one of the best science fiction films ever released, including the muddled original theatrical cut with the unnecessary voice-over — Batty is a synthetic organism with implanted memories that allow him to operate in a way that’s nearly impossible to tell from an actual human being.
The implanted memories of replicants could also lead to “actual” emotional responses, so they’ve been given an artificially short four-year lifespan. They simply don’t have enough time to grow up enough to do any real damage.
Or at least that’s the theory. Six of the replicants murder a number of people and flee to Earth, where they’re being hunted in order to stop them from killing more people. When Batty finally meets his inventor, he’s able to ask for the one thing just about everyone longs for: more life.
Imagine meeting your creator and being told that this is all there is. There can be no more. You were designed to do one thing, and as long as you did that well, he is satisfied that you’re working properly. Tyrell sees his life’s work, and is proud. Batty sees a creator who is deeply disappointing.
I always think about this moment when watching a certain episode of Rick and Morty:
I’d argue Batty proves he has a soul before he dies, but not until after he murders the person who gave it to him. Blade Runner is a movie that has been fussed over by both its creators and the cults of fans and critics who have fallen in love with it since its release, but the thought that one day we’ll meet our maker and their answers will be not only unsatisfying but insulting remains one of its most frightening ideas.