Monday 25 April 2016

Why I love Blade Runner: The Bastion

The Final Cut is the one they did in 2007, for the 25th anniversary of the film, and it is exquisite. It is the way I have always remembered the film when I'm not watching it. That's what they've done. They've cleaned it up. The dialogue syncs with the video, you can't see the stunt doubles' faces, the flying cars aren't on wires, and you can't see off the side of the set in the closing scenes on the rooftop.

It's got all that unicorn stuff that a lot of people don't like, but Deckard was always a replicant to me. Nothing to do with the unicorn, or the glowing eyes. It's just a better story.

Whenever they need one, they unwrap one of these Deckard replicants, install the original Deckard's memories, and then let him go out and get Chinese food, so that they can go and ask him to come back for 'just one more job'. Maybe they let him do more than that. Maybe he has a shower. Who knows? Then they give him a gun, and send him out to kill replicants who weren't engineered to think that they're human. They're basically monstrous, terrifying children. Petulant teenagers who can lift a full grown adult up with one arm.

He could've died at any point in that film, and I assume they'd just send out another one. I'm fairly certain that there's only one in the film, but hypothetically, they could. If he had died, it would've cheapened his role in the grand drama, and it is. That. A grand drama. For Deckard, Roy, Pris, Leon, Zhora, Rachel, and Tyrell (who is also a replicant) this whole story is life and death. It's huge for them. It's completely defining. But they're just playing roles in a game.

Making J.F. Sebastian one of the only humans that gets caught up in this whole thing (him, Holden, and Hannibal Chew), and the only one we really get to know, and everything that we see of him gives us insight into the kind of person that he is. Everything. The grubby workers overalls with precision tools in the front pocket that he wears. Speech, facial expressions, and body language that all move forward in moments, giving us piecemeal thoughts and actions. An apartment that is cluttered and untidy in two rooms, while the rest is in a state of near complete dilapidation. His friends consist of incomplete people, dummies, and children, with the only two that seem to be of any great complexity being a caricature and a teddy bear who're dressed in military getup.

Sebastian is the only one of the humans who're killed that we get to know, and they make a point of showing us that he is essentially alone. I mean, he's not. He's not. He has friends. He has his friends. The friends that he made. The friends that he genetically engineered. It's important to understand that. They're alive. They're living things.

J.F. Sebastian may be only tangentially associated with society, but he's not alone. That's what they're showing us.

He's surrounded by these living things, and the last time that they see him is when he leaves with Roy to see Tyrell.

How complex are their minds? How complex is their understanding of the world? It's stated in the film that Tyrell designs the minds of the Nexus models, but what are the extent of J.F. Sebastian's talents in the area? Their not complex enough not to walk into walls, but definitely complex enough to be wary of Roy and Pris where Sebastian is not. Not enough to look past the gift of human interaction.

So, these replicants play out their grand opera. Their lives and existences are defined, and their epic roles are cast in high melodrama, and in their wake they've destroyed something that was a kind of beautiful, and in reality, there isn't anyone left to give a shit. Not really. It's terrifying, and it's tragic, and it's straight up fucking beautiful.

Then you never see the teddy bear again after Roy and Sebastian go to see Tyrell. Did he understand enough of what was going on that Pris had to kill him? Was she worried that he might warn someone who came by? Did she coax the bear away from JF's other friends and crush the life out of him as a precaution? Did this all happen when we weren't looking?

I'm telling you now that I can't deal with that. That bit's too much for me. It can be argued that you can hear him greeting Deckard when he arrives, but you just don't see him, and that's enough for me. I argue that point, because the image of Pris at her most violently predatory towards this sentient teddy bear who only at the last moment might understand what is happening is too much for me.

But either way, the replicants still go on with what little's left of their lives, and the city rolls on. The Blade Runner unit gets out another Deckard when they need it, and the Tyrell Corporation gets out another Rachel and another Tyrell.

But next time it plays out this funny little guy who built himself his own little bastion from the decaying world around him and populated it with the things in his own mind won't be there, but the friends he left behind will be. Will they always wonder what happened to him? Do they continue to expect him home at any moment? Are they sad? Do they miss him?

It makes me cry every fucking time, because it should.

1 comment :

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