Knowledge and Mortality in Blade Runner and Genesis 2-3

by Kyle Keefer
Eckerd College

1. After hearing the Archangel Michael’s foretelling of the coming of Christ, Adam, “replete with joy and wonder,” exclaims “Full of doubt I stand,/Whether I should repent me now of sin/By me done and occasioned, or rejoice/Much more, that much more good thereof shall spring.” ( Paradise Lost, XII, 468, 473-76)

2. David Desser, “The New Eve: The Influence of Paradise Lost and Frankenstein on Blade Runner,” in Retrofitting Blade Runner: Issues in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, ed. Judith B. Kerman (Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1991): 53-65. Sharon Gravett, "The Sacred and the Profane: Examining the Religious Subtext of Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner.'" Literature-Film Quarterly 26 (Jan, 1998):38-43.

3. The woman does not receive the name Eve until 3:20. The name Adam, which means “earth creature,” does not appear as a proper name until 4:25. I use the names for convenience.

4. Throughout the Hebrew Bible, “to uncover nakedness” is an idiom for inappropriate sexual activity. See especially Leviticus 18:6-18.

5. David Gunn and Danna Fewell, Gender Power and Promise (Nashville: Abingdon, 1989): 1-30.

6. Stephen Mulhall, On Film ( New York: Routledge, 2003): 55.

7. The voiceover in the original version is therefore counter to the film’s intention. In the voiceover Deckard says, “Maybe in those last moments he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life...anybody's life...my life. ” That seems completely at odds with the significance of the scene; the issue is not loving life but rather accepting death.

8. Dick’s book would tend to support this line of thinking. At the beginning of the novel, Deckard and his wife Iran bicker over how they should use the Penfield mood organ to program their emotional responses. Deckard wants her to allow the organ to remove her bad mood but she refuses. Recently she realized “how unhealthy it was, sensing the absence of life, not just in this building but everywhere and not reacting.” [Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep (New York: Ballantine, 1968): 5.] If Deckard chooses to dial up emotions on a machine to inure his feelings from environmental forces, that hardly seems human, even if he is flesh and blood.

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