A Matter Of Electric Sheep

Blade Runner is one of those films that gets written about a lot, it's a very special movie. Even though it's almost thirty years old it still beats out the competiton. At University, despite the fact I was doing an illustration degree, they made me write a lot of essays. This used to annoy me as I felt this was a bit unfair and that I was there to draw, not to write. The easiest way to get the required amount of essays completed without using up too much of my brain or time: Film Studies. Somwhow I was able to write about the same film for every essay. So I wrote about Blade Runner for three years. It honestly started out as a short-cut so I could maximise my time drawing rather than writing and as I knew Blade Runner well it seemed like an easy option. It's a great film to interpret and to be honest anybody with half a brain could skew meanings and infer context to suit whatever end result they wanted. As I continued to write essay after essay I delved into the realms of art-school bullshit finding all sorts of references to feminism, castration, whatever seemed like it'd get me a good mark. The bullshittery was working, so I came over all proud and started doing it properly. This is when I came up with my theory.

When the Directors Cut first came out it opened up the question of Deckard being a replicant. It went back and forth for a while before Ridley Scott came clean in an interview and definitively said so. Case closed. Except no it isn't. The thing about sci-fi is that you have to create a world and these worlds have rules. Once you set these rules up and establish how your vision of the future works to the audience you really need to stick to them in order to get a really good film. Blade Runner has some rules and by following them through and looking at the players in the film I'd had a bit of a revelation.

The replicants in Blade Runner know they're replicants. Except Rachael. She's a new type of replicant and she's been given somebody else's memories to cushion her emotional responses so she can be more easily controlled. So if Deckard is also a replicant, he doesn't know about it either. So he's the same as Rachael. So it follows that he must have somebody else's memories too. And there's really only one person who's memories he could have.

Deckard is Gaff. If you think about it, it makes complete sense. Who is Gaff anyway? I propose that he was the best Blade Runner in the business before he got injured and acquired his limp, possibly even going after the replicants in the film. He's right up there in the cop ranks and appears to be close to Police Chief Bryant, the same relationship Deckard re-assumes when he's hauled in at the start of the film.

Deckard isn't even allowed to fly his own police car. Pretty much every time he needs to go somewhere, Gaff has to drive him. He's a real dick about it too, he doesn't talk to him or even acknowledge his presence. He just chauffeurs him around with that resentful scowl on his face. How come Deckard isn't flying himself around?

Another element of depth on this point comes in the design of Deckard's car. This was designed by the legendary Syd Mead who noted during the design phase that Deckard's car was for ground-only transport and had the vertical take-off flight systems removed. This is why the vehicle is a bit of a mess and has some panels missing and parts of the chassais exposed. Somebody has made sure that Deckard's car has had it's wings clipped. He's being kept under at least some sort of control.

Right through the film, Gaff shows complete contempt for Deckard. Right at the start when he approaches him eating those delicious looking noodles, his way of saying "hello" is by hitting him on the arm with his cane. All the way through he's basically a massive prick to him. The relationship makes sense - this whole endeavour of using a robot to hunt robots is experimental. If Deckard has Gaff's memories and skills than who better to keep a close eye on him to assess how things are going? And how much would Gaff hate doing this? The more Deckard succeeds, the more reason Gaff has to hate him. He's everything Gaff once was and serves as a painfull reminder.

On top of all of this we have the oragami. All throughout the film Gaff appears to know what Deckard is thinking. When he's getting the original brief from Bryant about how hard the job is going to be, Gaff makes an origami chicken and puts it on the desk because he knows Deckard is scared. He knows this because he would be intimidated by the job himself. Later, when discussing a visit with Rachael, Gaff makes the little matchstick man with a boner. He does this because he's already visited Tyrell and met Rachael and knows that Deckard's going to fancy her.

Then we have the one that can't really be interpreted any other way. The unicorn. Gaff knows about Deckard's recurring dream. How else could this be the case unless he also has the same dream?

Gaff says something very telling to Deckard near the end of the film. He lands on the roof right after the climactic fight which means presumably he was overhead observing the whole time, letting them get on with it to see how things played out instead of stepping in and helping. As he lands, he walks up to Deckard smiling and says "You've done a man's job". Coming from Gaff, this is the ultimate compliment. He has accepted him as his equal.

So that's my Blade Runner theory, that Deckard is actually Gaff. Might go and watch it again now.