EFC 2.09: Blade Runner 2049

Feat. The music of Vitaliy Zavadskyy

“We all wish it was us. That’s why we believe.”

I have developed a bad habit recently of talking about myself, rather than the movies I purport to write about on this blog. I shan’t break course in this post, as I do not yet have the strength. For now I want to tell you about my own experience watching Denis Villeneuve’s new science fiction film, Blade Runner 2049, the other night. I will be brief. And I won’t spoil anything major. 

Red Blue Poster 1.jpg

Firstly, I really liked this film, and it made me happy to read that my sci-fi specialist friends, who have been anticipating this film, even more eagerly than myself, were not disappointed.

Personally, I needed this movie like a fish needs water. Blade Runner stirred a function of my mind that has been dormant for quite some time, maybe since I wrote about Stars Wars: Rogue One back in the spring: that is the function of critical thinking.

It happened when I realized the subtle connection between the yellow flower that Ryan Gosling finds at the beginning of the film, and the bee he finds buzzing in Old Las Vegas. A lightbulb went off in my head. I was so proud of myself, I wanted to pat myself on the back in the middle of the theater.

Bee Hand 1

I don’t think the metaphor is too difficult to figure out, especially when you consider the location in which each is found.

I am sure there are more difficult metaphors in this film. There are also so many more thought provoking themes. For example, is to be born to have a soul? And is it even morally preferable to have a soul? As Robin Wright points out to Gosling at one point: “you seem to be doing just fine without one.” Also, how do we know if our memories are real? And, must one be intimately close to someone else in order to love them? Is a person only real if you can touch them?

A quick rundown of the Inside Out: I loved how Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling bond, unconventionally, via their Anger, through fighting, rather than through words. And I was deeply saddened by the film’s very bleak portrayal of our future society, and of Joy as being derived almost exclusively via pornography, and holographic companionship in this future. Ryan Gosling’s virtual girlfriend is literally named, “Joi.” Is their love for each other real

Joi 1 point
Joy, in a world gone to hell.

The most important takeaway from my experience, however, was realizing the significance of that flower and the bee. Talk about a sign of life! I consider this a small, but important victory for my inchoate sense of free will, and free thought.

Maybe I’m not a replicant after all…

Blade Runner 2049 Soundtrack: “Replicant Dreams” by Vitaliy Zavadskyy

Blade Runner 2049

Release Date: October 6th, 2017 (USA)
Rated: R

Director: Denis Villeneuve (Arrival, Sicario)
Writers: Hampton Fancher (Blade Runner (1982)), Michael Green (Logan, Smallville). based on characters from the novel, “Do Android Dream of Electric Sheep” by Phillip K. Dick
Music: Benjamin Wallfisch, and Hans Zimmer

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Ana de Armas, Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks, Mackenzie Davis, Jared Leto, and Harrison Ford

The Inside Out: Sadness (34), Anger (26), Disgust (15)Fear (11) Joy (4)

Sadness holding memory ballAnger Hands down

10 thoughts on “EFC 2.09: Blade Runner 2049

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  1. So glad you enjoyed the movie as well. It has been drifting through my mind for the past week. Whenever I see something for it, either over on YouTube or news snippets I just have to watch it. The film has so many layers that I think it requires multiple watches to discover them all. It was a beautiful movie. And the thing I liked the most was the relationship between Joi and K. It was so sad, but heartbreaking at the same time as well. And great job in discovering that metaphor. I love subtle things like that. Great post! 😀😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I can’t wait to see this movie again because I’m sure I’ll discover more.

      Joy and K’s relationship was indeed heartbreaking. It reminded me of the movie, “Her.” Once we see there are copies of the product available to everyone, not just the leading man, it strips away the uniqueness, the specialness of the romantic relationship I think. And when K talks with Giant Joi on the rail, and he let’s this realization sink in… aw that really got me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hello Experience Film, sorry it took a while for me to comment. Usually I like to jump in but thought I should give other viewers a chance first. I haven’t seen BR2049 yet but your description of the themes on “are we really here” and those of our thoughts, are they real or not reminded me of a recent Star Wars comic.

    The comic in question was a stand-alone issue dedicated to C-3PO and describes how he obtained the red arm seen in TFA. In the story a group of Resistance droids are sent on a mission to capture a First Order droid who has the location of where Admiral Ackbar is who has been abducted. On the foreign planet the droids capture their target but in their attempts to leave are attacked and “”die” one at a time until only Threepio and the First Order droid remain. In order to escape the planet the First Order droid tells Threepio the intel he needed and ventures out into a violent acid rain storm that had started, to activate a homing beacon for a rescue ship.
    The First Order droid was destroyed but when the storm subsided Threepio discovered that the droid had a red arm beneath the paint it had worn and Threepio transplanted this red arm to replace his own which had been damaged. He did this as assign of respect to the FO droid and to remember this life. I say “this life” as the red arm (and comments made throughout the comic) hinted and confirmed that the droids had all had their memories wiped at some point in time and raised the questions “do droids have a right to have a conscious permanent memory?” and “would this give droids a soul and rights as a carbon based being possesses?” Very similar doubts and questions to those belonging to the Humans(?) and/or Replicants(?) in BR2049. Again thanks for a great article!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Master Tyeth, and thank you for sharing this insider story about C3PO, and how he obtained the red arm seen in Force Awakens. I was curious how that transplant came about. And the themes of that story are so relevant here.

      Are Threepio’s memories wiped too? At any point in the Star Wars series? Does he remember that Anakin was once his master?

      You know, now that you raise the question of whether droids have a right to a conscious permanent memory, I realize that it makes me sad whenever people or machines are wiped of their memories, in real life and in movies. Even in Men in Black haha.

      It’s as if the person is dying, which begs the conclusion that our memories are all we have.

      This is an ethical dilemma I do not know the answer to.

      I can say from personal observation that we tend to respect the rights of someone in proportion to how human they appear, not how human they truly ARE.

      It seems to me, people’s moral intuitions are not based on scientific reasoning, i.e., whether an organism is carbon based, has a biologically composed nervous system, or a cerebral cortex, etc. We base our moral decisions on appearances alone. If it looks human, acts human, feels human, we treat it human. Jury’s are more sympathetic to a criminal who breaks down and cries in the courtroom in regret of their crime, than somebody who stands there stoically, showing no emotion. Is that the correct response to have as a juror?

      Similarly, I think the more machines/droid come to resemble humans, the more inclined we as a society will feel to offer them equal rights. Your thoughts?

      Great Comment! You’ve got me thinking now 🙂


      Liked by 1 person

      1. And then there is how we view and feel about K-2SO in Rogue One. I have to say his passing affected me more than some other “deaths” I had seen in movies. I think as you say it was down to the great voice acting of Alan Tudyk and the fabulaous CGI (especially his eyes which were articulated unlike C-3PO’s). Ah yes Threepio, I believe he may have had his mind wiped at the end of Episode III Revenge of the Sith, when he became the property (another point of debate, should we “own” droids?) of Senator Bail Organa.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s really interesting about the bee metaphor – I don’t even remember seeing the bee! But it reminded me of something when you mentioned it, in the first blade runner one of the questions on the voight kampff test (to see if you’re an android or a human) is that a bee or wasp lands on your arm, what do you do to it? The android Rachel instantly answers ‘id kill it’. But when the bee lands on Joe, he doesn’t kill it!! What are we to make of this?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dec you have just pointed out a most inspiring parallel between the two films that I had not noticed! I forgot about the bee question on voight kampff test.

      It’s actually a wasp in the question. But the difference to me seems negligible since both animals sting and therefore pose the same threat to a person/replicant, therefore satisfying the objective of the question: ‘How does person/replicant x respond when threatened?’ That is the purpose of the question, right?

      It is surely no coincidence that the bee lands on Joe’s hand, given the clear similarity of this real situation to the hypothetical question on the flight kampff test from the first film.

      In Blade Runner 2049 what if we are actually witnessing the embodiment of the voight kampff test play out on screen? This time we don’t need to hear Rick Deckard, or anybody else ask the questions; all we have to do is WATCH! Instead of, “How WOULD Joe respond when a bee lands on his arm?” it’s “How DOES Joe respond.”

      Rachel’s ruthless answers to Deckard’s questions are indicative of her disagreeable personality. They are also indicative of, in my opinion, her VULNERABILITY. She’s putting up a front, a persona of strength, i.e. “I would kill the bee (Because nobody messes with me!),” “I would not let my husband look at pornography because I should be enough for him (Because I’m beautiful!),” etc. But does she actually believe she is beautiful?

      Maybe Joe doesn’t kill the bee because he does not feel threatened by it. He does not feel VULNERABLE. And perhaps this coincides with his belief that he is human. At the moment the bee lands on him in the film, he believes he’s a human. And because he believes he’s human in this moment, he possesses special human qualities of courage, compassion and mercy.

      Another possible explanation for why Joe does not kill the bee: Joe also values the sanctity of life, as it is so rare in his world. He treats the Bee with the exact same care and respect as he treats the Flower. He is in awe of them.

      Your thoughts on any of this?

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s a really interesting reading about the Voight Kampff being embedded in the act of actually watching the film! So whereas in the first film the decision as to whether the characters are android or human is restricted to the inner world of the story, in BR2049 it is as if the viewer themselves are the ones with the power to decide.. I wonder if there are any other examples of the questions being somehow realised throughout the narrative? Also, that’s a really good point about Joe believing himself to genuinely be human – however, doesn’t Rachel believe she’s human too? I can’t remember now… there’s so many dimensions to this movie

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, exactly. However, I reviewed the test questions and could not find any more examples of the questions being realized throughout the narrative. Maybe the idea was a stretch :/

        The Questions to Rachel are:
        1) It’s your birthday and someone gives you a calfskin wallet. What do you do?
        2) You’ve got a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection, plus the killing jar.
        3) You’re watching television. Suddenly you realize there’s a wasp crawling on your arm.
        4) You’re reading a magazine and you come across a full page nude photo of a girl. You show it to your husband. He likes it so much he hangs it on your bedroom wall.5) You’re watching a stage play. A banquet is in progress. The guest are enjoying an appetizer consisting of raw oysters. The entree consists of boiled dog…

        Also, this question was asked to the Male replicant in the police station at the beginning of the film, just before he shoots up the place.

        1) You’re in a desert and a tortious is lying overturned on its back. What do you do?

        Rachel also believes she’s human, but it’s like she doesn’t feel it and her belief is starting to crumble.


      3. Also, I had a new thought about the significance of the bee.


        The initial meaning/metaphor, to which I refer in this post, is Rick. The bee represents Rick, and the flower represents Rachel.

        However, the bee might also represent Joe. His role in 2049 is ultimately to be a connector between Rick and his family. Just like a bee connects the DNA of two flowers. Each process happens serendipitously.


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