by Benjamín Harguindey
What with all the frantic rehashing of beloved cult classic properties, a new Blade Runner entry was almost bound to happen. The movie’s been in development hell since late ’90s but it was only in 2015 that Denis Villeneuve was finally chosen to direct the sequel to the seminal 1982 sci-fi/noir originally helmed by Ridley Scott (who takes executive producer credit in this one).
Since the designation of Villeneuve as director we’ve gotten nothing but good news about Blade Runner 2049. Harrison Ford would reprise his Rick Decard role. Original co-writer Hampton Fancher would return to pen the script. Cinematography virtuoso Roger Deakins would shoot the movie. And then there’s Villeneuve, who’s had an impeccable track record in direction so far (for good sci-fi look no further than this year’s Arrival). Like Scott before him, he has the makings of an auteur filmmaker.
Yesterday the teaser trailer for the film was revealed:
The teaser shows Ryan Gosling’s ‘Officer K’ (a nod to author Philip K. Dick?) traversing a beautiful surrealistic, ominous landscape, then entering a desolate manor to the tune of Jóhann Jóhannsson vaguely Vangelis-like score before being held at gunpoint by Deckard (Ford), his predecessor. Then we get a final shot of K walking through the iconic neon-lit backstreets of dystopic L.A.
What’s Deckard’s role in the movie?
We know little of the plot, other than Gosling’s character will be on the search for Ford’s (who only “comes in in the third act,” according to Scott). And here is where we enter the realm of speculation, in particular regarding the character of Deckard. Depending on what version you saw of the original film, blade runner Deckard may or may not be a “replicant” (i.e. android) – a theory emphasized by the Director’s Cut. This would give Deckard an expiration date that would be impossible to stretch out for 30 years (the original film is set in 2019), at least not without flat-out contradicting the original plot and rendering obsolete its entire pathos.
So has Deckard been decisively ruled as human? The original Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? made it clear Deckard was a human being, a fact that was allegedly carried over to the movie adaptation and fervently supported by screenwriter Fancher and Ford himself. Yet in his Director’s Cut – arguably the definitive of several versions of the movie – Scott gives all the weight of the world to the possibility that Deckard might be a replicant.
So which one is it? In the trailer Deckard looks noticeably older than his 1982 counterpart (no CGI voodoo ala Tron: Legacy here), so the first impression is that he is decisively a human being, and Ford finally got his wish (a recurring pattern, going by Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens). But it seems too bold a move to wrap up the ambiguity of the original story in such backhanded fashion. Maybe 2049 Deckard is different from 2019 Deckard? Maybe one of them is a replicant and the other a human being? Maybe there’re unforeseen layers of realities at work? That would certainly be in key with the writings of Philip K. Dick.
The movie comes out October 6, 2017.
Benjamín Harguindey / Managing Editor, Writer (Mar del Plata, Argentina – 1989) Screenwriter graduated from Universidad del Cine, Buenos Aires. Benja’s worked for EscribiendoCine as a film critic since 2010, covering the Biarritz, San Sebastián and Venice festivals. He judged the CILECT Prize and won several writing & criticism contests. He’s published one novel, Noches de Tartaria (2006).