RYAN GOSLING — HARRISON FORD — BLADE RUNNER 2049–2017
To revive an old film that was considered in 1982 when it came out and in later years, and has been since and still is, as a classic representing some cultural or even civilizational achievement is always a difficult task and here again, a lot of imagination and skill, if not art, has to be found and developed, though the result is slightly obscure and entangled into complicated intertwined circumstances that make facts fuzzy more than clearly explained. This is a systematic artistic approach and vision: lose the people in wordy complex speculations since they will not really understand and it does not matter. We are in the world of Facebook manipulation and target advertising: loosen the audience critical mind with obtuse ranting and raving with a lot of technical words no one understands.
The Title cards are typical:
Title Card: Replicants are bioengineered humans, designed by Tyrell Corporation for use off-world. Their enhanced strength made them ideal slave labor.
Title Card: After a series of violent rebellions, their manufacture became prohibited and Tyrell Corp went bankrupt.
Title Card: The collapse of ecosystems in the mid-2020s led to the rise of industrialist Niander Wallace, whose mastery of synthetic farming averted famine.
Title Card: Wallace acquired the remains of Tyrell Corp and created a new line of replicants who obey.
Title Card: Many older model replicants — Nexus 8s with open-ended lifespans — survived. They are hunted down and ‘retired’
Title Card: Those that hunt them still go by the name… Blade Runner.
It does not mean much and you have to accept what is said as being factual and clear, though it is as clear as Danish pea soup.
The first element is carried by the graphic — in all meanings of the word — scenes represented on the screen. It is a world divided in two. On one hand the world of desires. All you want to see, all you want to hear, all you want to feel, all you want to taste and all you want to smell. A full sensorial world of sensual and sensuous impressions and pleasures. Living within the next five minutes and never beyond in your head, hardly your mind because you do not have a mind anymore. Los Angeles is no longer the city of angels but is the city of all pleasures, perversions and probably fetishisms. It has many skyscrapers, though the sky is no longer what it used to be due to pollution, smog and probably even pea-soup smog delivered by the shovelful directly from hell. You cannot scrape such a sky, you can only stir it with a very strong spoon or shovel it down into some overflowing gutter. You will never see the end of it.
On the other hand, the completely ruined wasteland of what might have been a city and buildings and is nothing but a big pile of derelict and falling apart constructions with piled up tons and mountains of debris, waste, garbage, in what has become an open-air dumping oversize site, haunted more than inhabited by AWOL replicants of old times plus a vast population of children exploited in some kind of sweatshops and never reaching adult age. Only rats are not shown but there should be millions of them. The children are nothing but surviving slaves that will never get to any adulthood at all. To escape this world is to get on a spacecraft and move to distant cosmic colonies where most of the slaves working and producing there are new generations of replicants more or less controlled by the human elite that has moved to these distant places.
This is a total, absolute, extreme dystopia, complete dereliction, and derangement. This world is in a final state of decomposition and decay. It is rotting on the spot, on its own legs that are sinking little by little into the mud. The music is the perfect sound and noisy interpretation of this dystopian world. The flickering images in the darkest colors imaginable make us think of the comic-book world of Enki Bilal that imagined the rotting Soviet world if it had not been destroyed and dismantled. In this world humans are beasts and replicants are monsters, normally at least. And that’s the problem of this replicant Agent K.
By discovering some old records and recollections among replicants that thirty years ago, hence around 2019, he comes to the idea that there happened one event that could have changed the texture and destination of the world. A love affair between two replicants, a man and a woman. Agent K finds the buried body of the woman, Rachael. But he also finds some survivors who actually tell him a girl was born and the father is still alive. The film is thus and henceforward the search for the daughter and the father.
Actually, he will find the daughter first and will have to hide it from the humans in LAPD who want to destroy her and to erase the possibility that two replicants can actually have children. Agent K is reduced to having a holographic woman in his apartment. He manages to find a special device that enables him to take his holographic female partner out of the apartment and thus to merge her with a material woman and then be able to satisfy his drives, impulses, and instincts in a real sex act instead of a mental rant. Replicants are supposed to be perfectly programmed Artificial Intelligence robots that obey first all and never get off the line imposed onto them. After any mission, Agent K has to go through a special debriefing session that goes as follows.
Interviewer: [Baseline test room at LAPD HQ] Officer K-D-six-dash-three-dot-seven, let’s begin. Ready?
K: Yes, sir.
Interviewer: Recite your baseline.
K: And blood-black nothingness began to spin… A system of cells interlinked within cells interlinked within cells interlinked within one stem… And dreadfully distinct against the dark, a tall white fountain played.
Interviewer: Have you ever been in an institution? Cells.
Interviewer: Do they keep you in a cell? Cells.
Interviewer: When you’re not performing your duties do they keep you in a little box? Cells.
Interviewer: What’s it like to hold the hand of someone you love? Interlinked.
Interviewer: Did they teach you how to feel finger to finger? Interlinked.
Interviewer: Do you long for having your heart interlinked? Interlinked.
Interviewer: Do you dream about being interlinked?
Interviewer: What’s it like to hold your child in your arms? Interlinked.
Interviewer: Do you feel that there’s a part of you that’s missing? Interlinked.
Interviewer: Within cells interlinked.
K: Within cells interlinked.
Interviewer: Why don’t you say that three times: Within cells interlinked.
K: Within cells interlinked. Within cells interlinked. Within cells interlinked.
Interviewer: We’re done… Constant K, you can pick up your bonus.
K: Thank you, sir.
Of course, it means nothing except conditioning and control. For the audience, it is the type of dialogue that may bring a smile to their lips, though it could be a very condescending smile about such a world. Note the interviewer is a machine, hence no interviewer at all, just a program.
Finding the father is a lot more complicated and as soon as he is found, LAPD and their replicant or human agents can follow Agent K and thus trap, capture, torture this replicant, Rick Deckard, and plan his deportation and execution. But of course, Agent K goes AWOL and saves the situation though officially he will die soon after the end but after having accomplished the meeting of the daughter and her father. Mission accomplished, a mission of paternal love and a mission of the promise replicants can reproduce and thus can save the completely depleted and vilified humanity by generating a new humanoid civilization: the reinvention of love and human emotions that even make death a good event when a mission of rejuvenation and resuscitation has been fully accomplished against the scorched wasteland project of humans.
The dystopian situation depicted all along is thus ending with the promise of a humanoid replacement to a humanity that has lost all ethics and all vision of a liberated future. This is both dark and somber on the state of our society and optimistic on the potential of some human invention in Artificial Intelligence. Now Europe is discussing if not even envisaging the granting of rights to these AI robots that start appearing in our universe, it is high time we wonder if the Singularity Ray Kurzweil is so haunted by is not going to produce an anti-human revolution in the hands of humanoids and replicants and androids with AI robotic minds.
But you will recognize the hand of Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions who uses science fiction to animate his most dramatic and tragic vision of the future. A lot more than a dystopia, we are dealing with an apocalyptic Blackout in 2022 and its post-apocalyptic decomposition of humanity. There is no hope for humans who will never be able to survive without replicants who can procreate and thus will become the working class and the proletariat of this slave-owning humanity. The future of hominins in the cosmos is only in the hands of humanoid replicants, a new artificial intelligent species.
We are far from the after all optimistic vision of Terminator and John Connor who will lead humanity to full victory over the mechanical dictatorship. There is no future for humanity here because the narrow elite of this vast slave world is completely lost in a transition they have themselves brought upon themselves. Let the last Hominins die to liberate this world and this cosmos of their doomed and damned incoherent lack of plain human intelligence. It is also a lot more pessimistic than Matrix and the hacker Neo, born Thomas A. Anderson, fighting against Mr. Smith and the machines and finally crucified to save the world. Agent K sacrifices himself on the steps to the building where the final rebirth and meeting will happen to bring a father and a daughter together and enable the future of his world the same way Jesus sacrificed himself on his cross to enable humanity to be saved, but here humanity will not be saved. It is the replicant humanoids who will be saved. Will this replicant world be better than the human world this film is burying a lot more than six feet under?
Dr. Jacques COULARDEAU