There are a lot of things I could talk about here. There's the differences between this and the previous Blade Runner releases, which are interesting trivia, but well-cataloged over at Wikipedia. There's also the whole bit about the 80's and cyberpunk, Sterling and Dick and Gibson's visions of the future that shuffle and grunt on the opposite end of the narrative spectrum from Star Trek's future utopia. I don't know if I want to tackle that monster, either, though. There's also a disturbing depiction of gender relations, a male-empowerment sex scene that resembles a rape scene remotely enough for casual viewers to pass over, but clearly enough to make me uncomfortable. It's something I've talked about before, though, so I'll hold off on that for now.
Instead, what I want to write about is the complexity of interpretation for a work this complex. I'm a new criticism type, through and through...
I came to a similar cushy conclusion with regards to Blade Runner. There was something eerie and loaded about the final scene, just before the cut to the credits, and I immediately jumped to a conclusion that made perfect sense to me, even though it wasn't spelled out as such. The connection to an earlier scene, and to a few remarks by Deckard and Rachael, were the dots of meaning that I was able to connect in order to form a full picture.
Imagine my reaction when I discovered that I was "right" (in whatever way that holds). It turns out that Ridley Scott actually admitted, in an interview available on Google, that my conclusion was correct... or at least, it was his intention when he made this cut. This should have been a self-satisfied moment for me, right? I got it right, I caught the hints, I had connected the clues and the killer had just admitted that I was right about him. Neat and tidy, like Sherlock Holmes.
But I was, in fact, rather dismayed at Ridley's confirmation of my theory. Suddenly, there wasn't a real question about it... suddenly, everybody knows where to look, and the work is closed, right after I managed to open it up. Before that time, I was a fan of interpretive openness in my media, but I never thought very hard about it, except through the lens of amateur lit-crit. Suddenly, I had a new angle: an emotional reaction.
When Blade Runner was an open question, it seemed endlessly complex, like so many of the other work I'm such a fan of. This is why I liked Ada, or Ardor, and why I still remember Neon Genesis Evangelion so fondly. Their authors never bothered closing the interpretive code in these works, and openness lends a different scale to it, whether it's literature or art or entertainment. After Blade Runner, I was holding onto my insights like grains of sand I had gathered into my own personal hermeneutic sand castle. I was proud of it, and I was also jealous of it, in a way.
I should explain that last part... jealousy over a clever interpretation is a special vice that I tend to indulge whenever I can. I like having my own personal angle partly because I can explain it whenever my friends are talking about the movie. However, it also appeals because it's unverified, and I can use it to engage people in a conversation about the characters. A half-assed debate on an unconfirmed revelation can make for a lot of discussion and reinterpretation, and a small shadow can reveal serious new depths of a work of art.
There's a lesson for me as an artist, I think. On the simpler side, I'll never walk around explaining my art to people who are wondering about its "true meaning." If there's a true meaning, people can figure it out for themselves. On a deeper level, I'll avoid creating anything with a single, exclusive "meaning." If I can fold some uncertainty into the work when I create it, I won't feel like I'm closing it off too much when I finish it, and/or when people read it and/or ask about it (mental note: you have to have an audience first!)
But this also leaves open a question for the rest of the consumer universe out there (and make no mistake, I'm more of a consumer than a producer myself). Do you prefer your stories and pictures and music to be closed and explained, and to be the product of a clear, well-communicated idea? i.e. as with Ridley Scott, who communicated his idea after the fact? Or do you prefer them to be half-answered, leaving as many questions as "morals" or determinations? To put it another way: if you met the author of your favorite book, and they informed you that all your personal beliefs and reactions to it were "absolutely correct!", would you be happier for it?
I'm curious to know... if anyone, in the history of The InterNet, ever gets to the end of this blog post, please respond, cause I'd love to hear some thoughts.