Study Guide

Blade Runner Mortality

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When discussing the killing of replicants, the blade runners tend to use a euphemism: they're not murdering replicants; they're just "retiring" them. But the replicants fear death just like any natural-born human, and their quest on earth is a quest to extend their lifespans beyond the four-year limit they've been assigned.

It turns out to be an impossible quest. Mortality is inescapable in Blade Runner—and if you're not watching the original, happy-ending version, it still hangs over the film's conclusion. Rachael is slated to die four years after her inception, and thus she has a pretty short amount of time to spend with her possibly human lover, Deckard. Then again, Deckard might have a short amount of time left, as well—so they could be evenly matched. But is that much better?

Questions About Mortality

  1. To what extent is the mortality of human beings similar to or different from that of the replicants? Is the replicants' situation just a briefer version of our own?
  2. How does Roy react to his own mortality? How have his feelings towards death changed by the time the movie ends?
  3. Tyrell tells Roy, "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long." Do you think that this is necessarily true?

Chew on This

"Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new." – Steve Jobs

"[…] Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true." – Philip Larkin

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