Ridley Scotts Blade Runner is a brilliant, cult classic Science Fiction/Film Noir that takes a look at the future of man in 2019 California. The film offers a bleak view of the future from the very beginning, with dark skies and endless cityscape. Although it is not explained why, we know there is very little left of the natural world. What animals we see in the movie, are artificial, and real animals are so rare that hardly anyone can afford them. One of the themes in the movie seems to be that man, in his desire to progress, destroys nature and is trying to escape from the wild nature inside of himself.
This can be seen throughout the movie when we have establishing shots of the city, there is nothing but darkness and civilization as far as the eye can see. The closest thing to a natural landscape is the Tyrell Corporation, built like a mountain and towering over the city. Mans battle to subdue or destroy nature is especially represented in the battle scene between Deckard, played by Harrison Ford, and Roy Batty, played by Rutger Hauer, near the end of the film. Deckard represents man seeking to destroy the wildness inside of himself, and the replicants, which are biologically engineered humanoids, in this scene are like wild animals.
The scene begins when Deckard pulls into the Bradbury where JF Sebastian lives. Inside, Pris, played by Darryl Hannah, senses that Deckard, the hunter is near. She hides by freezing in perfect stillness with a veil over her head. The white veil could easily symbolize her innocence, even though she is dangerous, she is not malicious, only wild and seeking freedom. She looks like a doll, or a manican, but also very much mimics the natural instincts of a wild animal to freeze as a way of hiding. She holds her eyes very wide open and still. We are reminded of a bird when she snaps her head in the direction of encroaching hunter.
Even the way she attacks him when he comes too close, implies a type of innocence in the sense that it is child-like. With a shrill scream she jumps on him and pounds on him like a desperate young child. When she makes her second attack, she approaches by doing summersaults, and makes herself an easy target when Deckard shoots her twice in the stomach. The interaction between Deckard and Roy Batty following Priss death is very telling of the man vs. nature theme. When Batty comes on the scene, the music changes to sound wild and guttural. Batty in this scene sort of transforms into a wolf.
All throughout this scene the lights flash over and across the faces of both Deckard and Batty and make highlights and shadows adds ambiguity as to who is the good guy and who is the bad guy by insinuating that they both have good and bad sides. Batty, now very much like a male wolf, discovers the body of his mate. Deckard shoots at first sight of him, and Battys lines at this point in the scene remind us that he is the nature, and that Deckard the man, is unfairly trying to destroy him when he says: Its not very sporting to fire on an unarmed opponent.
Battys next line that follows unsettles us with the ambiguity of who is the good guy and who is the bad guy when he says: I thought you were supposed to be goodArent you the good man? Lengthy shots of water running down the walls of the inside walls and through the roof into the rooms all over the house underscore the battle between nature and man that is going on between Batty and Deckard. Batty proves to be stronger and faster, and injures Deckard by breaking two of his fingers on his trigger hand.
At this point the hunter becomes the prey. Batty returns Priss body before he is reminded of his quarry. He howls, like a wolf, first long and mournful, then wild and dangerous when he hears Deckard cry out in pain somewhere in the distance. Deckard is the injured prey that Batty, the wolf, toys with through most of the scene. A series of one shots reinforces the new hunter-prey relationship as Batty darts and sprints in and out of the frame, all throughout the house, howling, and taunting Deckard.
The sense that Batty is a wild animal is further reinforced by various shots of chain link fence and wooden slats on the windows insinuating a caged animal feel. Especially one shot where Batty claws at the fence with wild eyes flashing, and says menacingly I see you. He chases Deckard, and Deckard climbs and climbs the building to get away. Here we are moved by a long shot of Deckard grasping to climb to the top of the building, which is like a symbol of civilization, with the long view of the city below him. He is so high, so very near the top. So very close to escaping from the wildness of nature.
Deckard at the end is shot from above holding on for dear life and Batty nearing the end of his suddenly takes pity on him and pulls him up onto the roof, saving his life. Replicants were designed to live no more than 4 years and this was the final moment in Battys life. He sits looking at Deckard and says that his life and his memories are like tears in the rain to be washed away and forgotten. This line, followed by the rain running over his hair like he is in fact already part of nature, reminds us that he is the symbol of nature and in that man has rejected it and let it be lost forever.
This film reflects the filmmakers view that if we are not careful, mans future could indeed be very bleak. Man vs. nature is something that was very much on the minds of people during the 80s as we experienced new technological advances, and had only recently acquired the capability to clone human beings. In this scene, in particular, we were able to see how Ripley uses Deckard to represent the man, and the replicants as the unfairly suppressed nature.