Oh, Christ. Here we go again! When talking about Blade Runner and the issue of Deckard, it is important to first look at the historical record.
The issue of whether Deckard is a replicant, or not, was not something that began with the making of, or the release of, the original Blade Runner. Deckard was not a replicant in the novel – Phillip K. Dick’s Do Android Dream Of Electric Sheep. He was not written as a replicant, he was not played by Harrison Ford as a replicant. Both the writers and Ford have confirmed this several times. The Deckard-as-Replicant theory started when the release of the various special editions and directors’ cuts coincided with the birth and growth of the internet, and movie discussion boards and forums. It is a fan theory.
Ridley Scott adopted the theory over time, as he thought it added to the mystique his movie was obtaining as it transitioned from flop to cult to cinematic touchstone. Some subsequent tweaks fitted the narrative he had now adopted. So the fan theory grew legs and walked all over everything, but it was still a fan theory. Historical revisionism has taken place since then, with many involved adjusting their positions with hindsight to make it look like they were ahead of the curve all these years. They weren’t, it wasn’t a thing.
The original intention was that the movie asks you, the audience, to re-evaluate what it means to be human, giving Batty’s final mercy towards him its meaning. The argument over the unicorn dream and origami veers from proof dreams were programmed into Deckard, to it showing that the characters, whether human or replicant, share the same dreams and recognize their affinity. Ford always held firm. He wasn’t written as a replicant. They didn’t discuss Deckard as a replicant. Ford never once played him or interpreted him as a replicant.
This is the historical record. Now, in the final years of his career, Harrison Ford seems to have changed his tune. Out promoting Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny he has suddenly decided that Deckard is a replicant after all, and he knew it all along. What was I saying about the level of historical revisionism around this point in this movie?
“I always knew that I was a replicant. I just wanted to push back against it though. I think a replicant would want to believe that they’re human. At least this one did.
So where does that leave Denis Villeneuve’s 2017 sequel Blade Runner 2049? Will people forget that this is an about face. Will the original position of Ford, the writers, and Scott back when he actually made the movie be lost, like tears in the rain?