ByErik Barber, writer at

Most major issues today come around to the question of what is morally right. Different perspectives of morality changes the answer entirely, and while we're pointing fingers at who's right or wrong the question of who is the bad guy or good guy comes across our minds-who has more “humanity” and who doesn’t?

Director Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner is a fantastic film noir, mystery, Sci-Fi and a great example of what makes humanity or being human means, a classic tale of who is the monster-or in this case android- and who is the man. We find ourselves far into the future and humanity has been exploring space and colonizing on different planets, and to assist us with this; powerful corporations start manufacturing replicants who are visually indistinguishable from adult humans. The other thing about replicants is that their lifespan doesn’t last for very long, this is used to control them and make sure there’s not to many of them at one time. The use of replicants on Earth is banned and they are exclusively utilized for dangerous or menial work on off-world colonies. Replicants who defy the ban and return to Earth are hunted down and killed by special police operatives known as "Blade Runners". Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is one of the Blade Runner, he has been informed that four replicants have come to earth illegally.

Now these replicants seem human in almost every way and a special test, called the Voight-Kampff needs to be done by Blade Runners to prove if someone is human. It’s a verbal test of asking the test subject very simple questions and looking for certain responses to differ if they indeed are human.

Rick Deckard's investigation leads to a replicant engineer asking him to perform the test on a new model he has been working on named Rachael. This replicant is special and holds actual memories, the Blade Runner goes through the Voight-Kampff with Rachael and can’t find anything that proves if she is a replicant. In fact all signs of the test point out she is human and Rick would need more extensive tests if he could prove anything. Now Rachael is a replicant, and she has emotions and feelings just like any other replicant. They can love, have relationships, and protect those they care about. Rachael is slightly different, she has long lasting childhood memories-the memories aren't hers exactly but they are real enough to her. Rick meeting her complicates things he begins realizing that these replicants are not just machines, but living thinking beings that could very well be human.

While Rick is hunting down one of the escaped replicants, Leon, he ends up getting overpowered by the machines strength and tenacity. Rachael saves Rick’s life by shooting and killing Leon just in time. Rick is amazed that this replicant killed one of her own kind to save him. This was yet another situation where the Blade Runner has been challenged on his pre-existing ideas and morals on these replicants, even on the overall question of what makes a human.

In the perspective of the four illegal replicants (Roy, Leon, Zhora, and Pris) they see that they are in the right. Their lifespan is about to end and they're not ready to die, all they want is to stay with each other and live as long as a human. A very reasonable request, but since they aren’t considered human they are cast out and hunted down. Is this fair? they care about each other and have friendships just like humans, they feel empathy, happiness, sadness, regret etc. just like humans do. The difference is that they were created in a factory and programmed with these emotions, but these simulated feelings are real to them.

In the end Rick develops feelings for Rachael, and wants to protect her. After the Bladerunner kills the replicants Pris and Zhora, all that’s left is Roy (who is the leader of the four and the strongest). After a chase through an old church the blade runner is defenseless against Roy, and the once strong replicant is slowly shutting down and his life span is about to end.

At the final scene Roy said something that stood out among the rest of the lines in this movie: “It's too bad she won't live, but then again, who does?” It’s a good question, who gets to live, who dies, and overall who decides this fact.

At the end of the final scene Roy gives chase after Rick through an old church, Rick slips and falls off the roof of the church. The replicant quickly catches him by the hand, but Instead of exchanging a few words and letting the Blade Runner fall to his death, like a classic villian. Roy pulls Rick back up to safety, without any real explanation. Shortly after using his last strength to do so, Roy dies. Now it’s not explained why Roy did what he did, but maybe the replicant had more humanity in him than the Blade Runner, Roy was able to forgive Rick for what he did and spare his life. Rick’s idea of what makes someone human is entirely changed.

In the perspective of the Replicants the Blade Runners, the police, and the Government were the “bad guys”, all they wanted was to be treated like humans. They were denied that because in the eyes of everyone else they were not human, they were machines created to serve humans. Rick Deckard knows fully well that Rachael isn’t human, but she has plenty of humanity and she can express love just like any human. The perspective changes everything, and once we start to view things in different ways we begin to see what makes someone human.


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