Blade Runner: No Happy Ending

leading from

a) Intended to be a film noir

Blade Runner was intended to be a sort of a film noir movie, and film noirs don't end with happy-ever-after endings, because life isn't like that or rarely is like that. 
The ending that the first release of Blade Runner had ended with the two driving off into the wastelands. 
b) Transforming in a dark landscape of confusion
For it to be a Film Noir, Ridley wanted a dark side to the story of the central character, Deckard.
For Ridley it made sense that Deckard could possibly have been a replicant.

In the end, Ridley's ideas was the film is part Kafka-esque, part Marlowe-esque and part Film Noir.
Then there's a kind of a logic in the full circle of that kind of a dark story. 

He thought of it as a paranoid film and so throughout there would be the suggestion that Deckard mght be a replicant himself.

It would make sense to Ridley that whoever the authorities were at that particular time, perhaps it's the Tyrell corporation.
c) Various models of Nexus androids with perhaps more to come
We have in the movie different models of Nexus androids, with the androids who are being hunted down as Nexus-6 models, and Rachael Tyrell as another model who doesn't know she's even a replicant. 
Perhaps they would put a Nexus-7 or perhaps even a Nexus-8 out on the road to see how it would fair out in the environment of the outside world and that would be Deckard.

Ridley went with the idea that Deckard was the first android who was the equivalent of being human with all of our vulnerabilities. 
Who knew how long he would live. Ridley thought perhaps he might even live long. Why, he thought, should they need to build an ageing gland if they didn't need to?

  1.   ET: What's changed in your original version. What were the differences in your original version of the one that we all saw

    Ridley Scott: Um the voice over had gone completely. Both, I think Harrison and I were both, you know, a little unhappy about having to impose a voiceover onto an audience that works occasionally with movies, but in this instance, I think becomes an interruption and so you're kind of , y-you come disassociated from the movie by getting this verbal information, when you find out what he's telling you later anyway which is the whole point of making a movie. Um, the happily, happy ever en.., ha..., you know, happy ever after ending, er, Film Noirs don't end that way, because life aint like that or is rarely like that. Er, the ending that we have now is, well you will see what the ending is when you see the film and also the idea, I always felt in here, the, especially as it was a kind of, erm, fff... yeah, film noire, erm, er, I felt that er, there should be a, you know, clearly a dark side to this, to the story of the central character, of the Deckard character, erm, I mean, in himself, er, and what I thought was, made sense, that this Deckard character could possibly have been a replicant, so that's gone back in
    The film is a little bit Kafka-esque, is a little bit Marlowe-esque, is a little bit Film Noire, then in a way, in the tradition of that idea, there's a kind of a logic in the full circle of that kind of dark story, is that, it would seem to make sense that, erm the, whoever the authorities were at that particular time, let's say the Tyrell corporation, erm, would certainly put a Nexus-7 out on the road to see how he would fair in the, in , in, in the, in the world, in the environment

    Entertainment Today: But they gave him then as they gave her, a neverending life which would make them that big different

    Ridley Scott: Well she had a limited life span, as had the Roy Batty character
    Entertainment Today: But Roy Batty had a four year life span.

    Ridley Scott:With her, we never knew.

    Entertainment Today: We never knew

    Ridley Scott:It was open because she was arguably the next stage, or Nexus, was she a six or was she a seven. I think what would be curious to ask about the Harrison Ford character is what he a seven or was he an eight

    Entertainment Today: That's what I'm asking 

    Ridley Scott: Yeah, that's what's, that's the question
    Entertainment Today: We're not going to find out from the.. (re-release?)

    Ridley Scott: No, no, but you'll, you'll wonder. You'll wonder, it's clearly there, if you watch the, even the first version, you'll won, you'll, if , if, there's a clue when he picks up the unicorn at the end, that little piece of origami, which was, this , the character Eddie Olmos was always leaving his little origami around everywhere, his comments on what he felt, and he left his visiting card, and there was this origami, which is the unicorn. Harrison Ford picks it up, looks at it, it's almost like a conformation, his reaction 'cause he nods, understands and agrees. So I put something back in earlier which will tell you, indicate that he could be.
    Entertainment Today: But he knows who he is

    Ridley Scott:No, he doesn't know who he was and therefore, it's like, it's like, from the story, I'm hoping you'll get that he's suddenly aware of the fact that the Eddy Olmos character representing the authorities, the higher authorities knows who he is.
    (Entertainment Today, 1992
  2. Paul Sammon: But how can Deckard be an android when he's physically outmatchd by the replicants, whom you've previously established as being stronger than humans?

    idley Scott: Deckard was the first android who was the equivalent of being human with all our vulnerabilities. And who knows how long he would live? Maybe longer than us. Why build the ageing gland if you don't need to??

    Paul Sammon:  Now you're bringing immortality into the equation, which is a completely different factor-?

    Ridley: -one I find fascinating

    Paul Sammon: but I must say I better appreciate the more subtle suggestions that Deckard might be a replicant. Such as the fact that he collects photographs, which you see scaytered over his piano. And of course the most significant visual clue is that over-the. glowing. Was that setup intentional??

    Ridley Scott:  Totally intentional, sir. I was hoping there'd be those who'd pick up on that. Since Blade Runner is a paranoid film, throughout there is this suggestion that Deckard may be a replicant himself. His glowing eyes were an. other allusion to that notion, another of the subtle little bits and pieces which were all leading up to that scene in the end where Deckard retrieves Gaff's tinfoil unicorn and realizes the man knows his secret thoughts.
    Actually, though, my chief purpose in having Deckard's eyes glow was to prepare the audience for the moment when Ford nods after he picks up the unicorn. I had assumed that if I'd clued them in earlier, by showing Harrison's eyes glowing, some viewers might be thinking "
    Hey, maybe he's a replicant, too." Then when Deckard picked up the tinfoil unicorn and nodded-a signal that Ford is thinking, "Yes, I know why Gaff left this behind"-the same viewers would realize their suspicions had been confirmed.

    Paul Sammon: The only problem I have with Deckard being a replicant is that if he's a replicant to begin with, it rather undercuts his moral evolution as a human being, Because when the film starts, Deckard's clearly on the cusp of a change- he's trying to get out of his profession. But he's still the macho jerk. Then, as the story progresses, he just as clearly gains insight into the wretchedness of his profession, not to mention the growing empathy he displays toward the replicants. Which, to me, are demonstrably human characteristics. But if Deckard's a replicant- -well, it almost wipes out his spiritual rebirth. ?

    Ridley Scott.: Unless he's a more sophisticated replicant and has had a spiritual implant. And is a Nexus-7?

    Paul Samon: Expand on this idea of Deckard being a "Nexus 7."

    Ridley Scott:
    If Deckard was the "piece de resistance" of the replicant business-"more human than human," as Tyrell would say-with all the complexities suggested by that accomplishment, then a Nexus-7 would, by definition, have to be replication's perfection. Physically, this would mean that the Tyrell Corporation would be prudent in having Deckard be of normal human strength but extended lifespan-resistance to disease, etc. Then, to round off their creation, the perfect Nexus-7 would have to be endowed with a conscience. Which would in turn suggest some kind of need for a faith. Spiritual need. Or a spiritual implant, in other words. (Future Noir, revised and updated edition p516, interview with Ridley Scott by Paul Sammon "A 700 layer cake")


  1. "Blade Runner: No Happy Ending" was posted on 20th July 2023

  2. "Blade Runner: No Happy Ending" was posted as a separate page on 20th July 2023