Blade Runner

Bomb Rating: 

Slick science fiction masterpiece, you say? How about Freudian nightmare?

There is a key scene in the middle of this 1982 Ridley Scott film that is crucial to understanding what it is all about.

Bounty hunter Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) has been straddling the fence over about his feelings for the replicant, Rachael (Sean Young): Should he screw her or shouldn't he? The arguments against relate to Deckard's job, which entails hunting down replicants and killing them, particularly a restless bunch led by Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer). There's also the fact that replicants are only supposed to live for four years, which makes any relationship with Rachael rather limited. Then there's the philosophical argument, which says that any copulation between the two, at its very core, is basically like humping a toaster.

So Rachael is over at Rick's place sitting at his piano while Rick is sleeping. She glances at some pictures of his mother, undoes her hair so that she looks like his mother, then starts playing the piano, presumably also like his mother. Rick wakes up and walks into the piano parlor, sporting a woody the size of a Steinway. Suddenly Rachael isn't a cold, inhuman machine -- she's his beautiful, piano playing mother; Rick is no longer a cold, inhuman bounty hunter -- he's Hamlet. Slick science fiction masterpiece, you say? How about Freudian nightmare?

Confused and bewildered about his Oedipal problem, Rick runs off to shoot replicants while he sorts things out. His first target is Pris (Daryl Hannah), who reacts to her imminent death by flipping out in every sense of the word. Then Rick hunts down Roy and rediscovers his humanity in the process. Refreshed and renewed with hope for the future, he runs off with Rachael in the film's most infamous and reviled scene: Its syrupy-sweet, studio-mandated ending, which produces an effect analogous to slapping a pink, frilly skirt on Charles Manson. Apparently, the replicants manning the executive offices in Hollywood wanted to see at least one of their ilk survive.

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