With the announcement of Blade Runner 2 and with the fact that Harrison Ford is starring in it, we must all accept one thing: Deckard isn't a replicant. He can't be, since replicants have four year life spans, and Harrison Ford's done more than four laps around the sun since Blade Runner.
But here's the thing: Blade Runner is such a fucking mess of a movie that there's no way to be sure of anything, especially when you take into account that there are seven different versions of the film. Writer Javi Grillo-Marxauch (Lost, The Middleman) wrote a great blog post breaking this down. Here's an excerpt:
in turning dick’s novel into a film (if paul sammon’s book “future noir” is to be believed) hampton fancher wrote a line in a draft either very late in pre-production or during production in which deckard - pondering his state-sanctioned serial murder of replicants - wonders who it was that made him.
finding the poetics of that single line of dialogue utterly beguiling, ridley scott made the executive decision that it would be a cool mindfuck if rick deckard was also a replicant…
and thus, thirty years of directorial retconning of the established theme of PKD’s work was born.
for the next thirty years, ridley scott has tinkered endlessly with his film, resulting in multiple cuts - down to an official “final” cut (don’t you believe it) released tow years ago to coincide with the film’s thirtieth anniversary.
and the verdict on the “final” cut is that rick deckard is, in fact, a replicant.
but here’s the thing, when you buy the “final” cut, you also have the option of buying it with up to five other versions of the movie - in which deckard is less of a replicant depending on what time in his belief that deckard was a replicant ridley scott was at the time the cut was made!
the “final” result is that our poor, put upon rick deckard - who has to kill sentient beings for a living, and already lost a wife and an electric sheep in the translation to cinema - is the sad victim of what can only be referred to as a thoroughly phlidickian identity crisis: a capricious god has brought into existance numerous versions of himself, all of them slightly different, and all of them at variable levels of proximity to the undeniable - if nonsensical within the narrative frame of the film and source material - possibility that he may, or may not, be a human being.
It's funny - the next episode of The Canon is about Blade Runner, and I wish I had read this before we recorded. This blog post so absolutely sums up the entire problem with all of Ridley Scott's movies, but Blade Runner in particular, that I think we could have just read it on the show and been done. Hell, we could have just read this line and been done:
truth: ridley scott made a rash decision based on a single line that put him at odds with the theme of the film he was making.
Read the rest of the piece here - there's more excellent analysis of the thematic and narrative problems that riddle Blade Runner. And I guess this is gonna be a good place to argue how Blade Runner 2 works, when Scott's "Final Cut" of Blade Runner makes it all but obvious that Deckard is a replicant.