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Analysis Of Existentialism In The Movie “blade Runner”

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Existentialism is a philosophical study which emphasizes the existence of the individual as a free and responsible agent determining their own development through acts of the will. Existentialism is a philosophical belief which focuses on existence. There are several examples which illustrate the presence of existentialism in the movie “Blade Runner”. In the movie Deckard explained that he left his job because he had a bellyful of killing. His former boss threatened him and this was the only reason he returned to his job. However even after being threatened by his boss, he could have refused to join if Deckard was truly aware of his freedom. This blind and passive attitude of Deckard, demonstrate a lack of conscious realization and personal responsibility for ones actions: a lack of existential awareness.

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“Eyes” are the important subject throughout Blade Runner. The Voigt-Kampff test was based on determination of subtle reactions through movements of eyes to gauge a being’s empathy. Eyes were the sole distinguishable trait between Humans and Replicants according to the movie. Replicants, despite their supposed germination of emotions were incapable of passing the Voigt-Kampff empathy test, unlike Humans which depicts the physical indication of their emotion inefficacy.

On the other side, Scott pictured the eye as the single most vulnerable aperture in the body. Roy Batty knew that he was going to perish because of the vulnerability that Tyrell had created in him, thus he killed Tyrell by violating his most physically vulnerable spot which distinguished between replicants and humans.

Also there was a conversation between Batty and Chew who was the designer of Replicant eyes. To Chew’s assertion of the eyes in his laboratory: “Those are my eyes…”, and later “I design your eyes.” Batty retorted: “Chew, if only you could see what I have seen, with your eyes.’ With this irony, Batty declared that his and therefore all Replicants and Humans‘s existential experience are theirs alone, and not their makers. This instance provides a valuable idea to existentialism.

As the replicants became more and more sophisticated with each generation, the line between them and the actual human beings blurred. It took Holden a few questions on the Voigt- Kampff test to determine that Leon Kowalski is a replicant, but it took Deckard more than 100 questions to come to the same conclusion about Rachael. Rachael and Roy Batty (both replicants) each saved Deckard’s life which showed that they were more sophisticated. They started to develop very complex emotions, including some level of empathy for Deckard.

Various examples shows humanization of Replicants throughout the film: Zhora’s anguish and terror while fleeing Deckard, Pris’ amusement with Sebastian’s genetically engineered toys, Roy’s “precious photos”. In reverse, Deckard became dehumanized. He shot Zhora in the back, a dishonourable execution which he later regretted. The ‘retirement’ of Pris, who bled and convulsed violently on the ground. Batty, on the other hand, mourned his fellow Replicant by kissing her corpse and whimpering like a heartbroken wolf.

Replicants were commercial commodities. Tyrell became rich by selling them as cheap labor. However, as they develop emotions, the replicants became aware of their existence. They understood the value of their lives .They felt that they deserve basic human rights.

Another instance is when Tyrell denied Batty’s appeal of elongating his life. At that moment, Batty realized that the human who created him is not better and not powerful than he is. He brutally murdered Tyrell. By mortally crushing in his eyes, Batty exploited the sole “markers of authenticity differentiating Human from Replicant. Tyrell was no deity or human superior; rather Batty became, for himself, his own god.

Batty saved Deckard just as his grip slipped, and pulled him up to safety. Batty seemed to spare Deckard perhaps because he finally figured out what it was to be human, which is to show compassion. Batty’s empathy subverts his society’s stigma, transcending that of humans such as the blade runners, the inspectors, the scientists and the genius. In the end, Roy Batty took the humane route. He is therefore, portrayed in the movie as the epitome of Tyrell Corporation’s motto: “More Human than Human”.

Batty saved Deckard’s life as well as his humanity also. He taught Deckard what it means to be a mature, free human being rather than an artificial one. The film suggests that Batty’s emotional maturity, his choice of empathy and compassion is what makes a human truly human.

The empathy that both Rachael and Batty had, helped Deckard in understanding what defines a true human. As the film concludes, Rachael, Batty and Deckard have found the freedom to be truly human. At the moment Batty felt the deep emotion that motivated him to kill his creator, he escaped his genetically engineered programming. Rachael and Deckard too found freedom from their programming, through the love they developed for each other. Since Deckard was not a replicant, he was not programmed but many people allow themselves to be programmed by their families and societies. Blade Runner urges us to escape this programming and become an authentic human.

09 March 2021

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