I’ll say up front: this is totally fanboy rambling. Take it as such.
In Ridley Scott’s classic film Blade Runner, evil corporate head Elton Tyrell explains to hero Rick Deckard how the Nexus 6 replicants, the closest the company’s come to true human beings, have emotional issues since they’re born fully adult and live only four years.
Tyrell: We began to recognize in them a strange obsession. After all, they are emotionally inexperienced, with only a few years in which to store up the experiences which you and I take for granted. If we gift them with a past, we create a cushion or a pillow for their emotions, and consequently, we can control them better.
Deckard: Memories. You’re talking about memories.
This is established through the character of Rachel, a replicant who believes she’s a human being.
Now, flash forward to the end of the film, to Roy Batty’s famous speech (written by actor Rutger Hauer).
Batty: I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain.
This is justly considered one of the highlights of SF cinema, and one of the great bits of cinema dialogue, period. It points up the tragedy of the replicants, doomed to short and terrible lives.
Tyrell says they give the Nexus 6 memory cushions.
Roy Batty is a Nexus 6.
So…what if these memories never really happened?
In Deckard’s briefing, Bryant says about Batty, “Combat model. Optimum self-sufficiency.” What better memories to implant in a replicant destined for combat than thoughts of other battles he’s won, or at least survived. What if Batty has never seen actual combat, but only believes he has? And that reinforces the parallel stories of Deckard and Batty, especially given what Deckard finds out about himself when he sees Gaff’s final gift outside his apartment.
I have no idea if anyone else has ever noticed this, but it struck me this morning. Any obsessive Blade Runner fans out there? Leave your two cents in the comments.