Screen shot from Blade Runner (Image via Warner Brothers)
14. Religion and philosophy play a big role
Some science fiction creators shy away from the topic of religion. After all, who could blame them? Religion is, at best, a touchy subject, and plunging it into the world of tomorrow (and especially a grim one like that of Blade Runner) doesn’t really improve tensions. However, the twinned topics of religious belief and philosophy are rich topics. Luckily for us, Blade Runner touches on them with real nuance.
This isn’t to say that overt religion is part of the story. As far as we can tell, no one in the main cast goes to church, though you do get glimpses of people in religious garb during street scenes. You don’t see anyone pay homage to a religious icon or settle down to pray. Yet, if you look just beneath the surface, there’s plenty of spiritual subtext to discuss.
Roy Batty, in particular, provides a lot of fuel for this discussion. He’s both beautiful and supremely menacing, an off-world outcast who has chosen to reign on Earth rather than serve in a hellish off-world colony. He even goes so far as to (mis)quote William Blake, saying, “fiery the angels fell” (though Blake originally said “Fiery the angels rose” in America a Prophecy). When Roy eventually dies, his departure is marked by the sudden flight of a dove – perhaps symbolizing the ascension of Batty’s soul. To be fair, it’s also a little on the nose.