More Human Than Human: Blade Runner looks at our dystopian future

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The Performances:

Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard

As mentioned, Harrison Ford’s performance as Deckard is generally casual and cool, especially under the circumstances. Though Ford displays some trademark characteristics, he gives plenty of space for his character’s understated nature (whereas Ford’s characters are usually more over the top). He really shines during the showdown with the replicant called “Roy Batty” (Rutger Hauer). As Deckard’s own life is more endangered, he begins to understand the horrific reality of what he’s doing, and Ford shows real acting skill in carrying the transition.

In some ways, he seems to become almost a quivering child toward the end. In my book, it’s a great example of an understated performance that transforms, and with a huge payoff. Deckard is a very conflicted character — cocky yet subtly unsure of himself — and it ought to be conveyed that way on film. Ford accomplished that.

Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty

Rutger Hauer performed brilliantly as Roy Batty, a replicant with an all too understandable grudge against his makers. (Blade Runner)

Perhaps I’m unfairly generalizing, but it seems many actors would treat Roy Batty as a throwaway sci-film villain. Hauer, on the other hand, seemed to treat it like the role of a lifetime, and it shows. In fact, Hauer says this was his favorite film to make, probably due to the complexity and nuance he was allowed to bring forward.

Like the other replicants, Roy Batty is a weird, sometimes playful and childlike character. He can be brutal. He can be deeply philosophical. In other words, he can be human.

Like with deckard himself, this isn’t a character you can easily pin down and examine, because his motivations are complicated and absurd. This is reflected in Batty’s “Tears in rain” monologue — some of which Hauer himself improvised. When the speech was over, the crew applauded, and some even cried. Tears. Real, human tears.

What about you? Did you cry during that speech? Did you enjoy Blade Runner? Feel free to let us know in the comments!

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