Friday, October 05, 2007

UPDATED: What Makes Us Human

In the early 1990's, I volunteered a few hours a week as a crisis hotline counselor for an agency that was then called Middle Earth. During my tenure there, I became friends with another counselor who went by the name of Ian. One thing I remember about him was that he was obsessed with the movie "Blade Runner" (which is based on a story by Philip K. Dick called 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?'). On several occasions, he would talk to me about what he thought was the central message of the story. I recall him saying in one conversation that it was about slavery, while another time he pondered that it was about trying to find god.

I never really gave much thought about it. While "Blade Runner" is an interesting movie in many ways, particularly for its dystopian vision of the future, there was something about the movie that just did not click for me. Still, I would find myself watching it every now and then when it would be shown on television. The main reason I would watch "Blade Runner" was because I enjoyed Rutger Hauer's brilliant performance as the replicant Roy Batty. As the main villain of the film, Hauer's character is suitably menacing, and yet he also possesses an undeniable charisma and intelligence.

Anyway, I think it was several years ago, I had rented the director's cut of the film because I wanted to see how it differed from the theatrical version. It was near the end of the movie, in the clip below, when it suddenly leaped out at me. What "Blade Runner" was about is what it is that makes us human. And what makes us human is our capacity to care about each other. I had often wondered why Roy Batty is holding a dove in his hand when he leaps over to the roof of the next building to save Deckard's life. Then I realized it. The dove represented the soul. Even though Roy was an android, his decision to save Deckard made him a human being with a soul. When Roy dies, the dove flies up towards the sky, symbolizing the ascent of Roy's soul to heaven.

After I had left Middle Earth, I lost touch with Ian, so I never got a chance to tell him about the true meaning of "Blade Runner." I wonder if he ever managed to figure it out on his own.

Well, wouldn't you know it, another version of "Blade Runner" is being released. Maybe they will finally show the love scene between Rutger Hauer and Harrison Ford!

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