Programmed lives in “film noir”: Blade Runner and Divided Humanity

“Blade Runner’s job is to hunt down Replicants – manufactured humans you can’t tell from the ‘real thing'”, goes the introductory to Ridley Scott’s 1982 movie, based on the SF novel by Philippe K. Dick, Do the Androids dream of Electric Sheep.

It shows the world of the enhanced humanity, but marked with strong hierarchy! The Replicants, genetically engeneered beings, look like humans but are programmed to live for 4 years and working on the dangerous plants out of the Earth – in the space colonies. Their usage on Earth is illegal, and therefore are banned to present among “normal” (biological) humans… however, the great companies still utilize them!

I believe that even this general level of the movie’s content revelas the strong division between new possible forms of  humanity, based on biopolitical power, and that is shows in a dystopic manner the destructive potential that bioengeneering of humans can imply. Therefore, it apperas as a radicalization of the neoliiberal capitalism and neocolonialism.

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6 Comments on "Programmed lives in “film noir”: Blade Runner and Divided Humanity"

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Mads Søndergaard
Nice analysis of the film – one which I very much agree with (granted, my memory of the film itself is rather cloudy at this point). Of note, however, is the unanswered (and non-explicit) question that the film presents, namely whether or not the protagonist himself is a Replicant – as I recall he shows vague signals in both directions. In this radicalized neo-liberal capitalist and neo-colonial world, then, how would you say the film proposes that we deal not only with the identity of the Replicants themselves (Roy, Rachel), how we deal with their emergence and existence (the hunt… Read more »
Johannes Poulsen
Johannes Poulsen

Good questions. In “Representations of the Post/Human” Elaine Graham suggests that the characters in Blade Runner have such a hard time identifying the Replicants because society in the film has itself become dehumanized and machine-like. This seems to support both your reading, Mads, and yours, Jelica.

Asker Bryld Staunæs
Asker Bryld Staunæs

Oh, I love Blade Runner and I share your views on it. However, I want to ask what you think of the final, incredibly beautiful scene ( Does this destroy the dystopia or enhance it? Does it imply a little, human opening or not? It is ambiguous, of course, but it promises a bit of light.