Deckard’s Inner Conflict

52:24, Deckard’s encounter with Zhora Salome (Luba Luft)

The particular scene that I thought was interesting to use as a basis of comparison between the novel and the film adaptation was the scene where Deckard approaches Luba Luft (Zhora Salome in the movie) attempting to perform the Voight-Kampff test on her to determine whether she’s the android he needs to retire. In the novel, Dick is able to better demonstrate the empathy that Deckard begins to feel for Luft, and for androids in general, and the inner conflict taking place surrounding him and his relationship with his murderous position as a bounty hunter. The empathy that Deckard begins to feel for androids is not only present in the ways he is enchanted by her lovely singing voice, but also when he buys her the Edvard Munch book. Luba Luft states that “there’s something very strange and touching about humans. An android would never have done that” (133), which builds upon this idea that Deckard is not as cold and heartless as he initially may have come across. Also, It is pretty strange that Deckard would still plan on giving her a gift despite his agenda. On page 142, he reflects on his feelings, asking himself “if any human has ever felt this way before about an android” After Resch retires her, Deckard reflects, saying: “I can’t anymore; I’ve had enough. She was a wonderful singer. The planet could have used her. This is insane” (Dick 136). He seems to have changed his views on androids since the beginning of the novel, not simply viewing them as machines but as individuals.

However, in Blade Runner, the ways in which Ridley Scott chooses to frame the encounter between Deckard and Zhora Salome is entirely different. He depicts Zhora Salome as already being aware of Deckard’s plan to retire her, and leads him on thinking that she has no idea until she finally lashes out at him, attempting to kill him first, then fleeing the scene until she is eventually hunted down and killed. The mise-en-scene here condenses Deckard’s encounter with Salome/Luft, and doesn’t demonstrate to viewers that he is troubled by his actions until after he has already killed her. In fact, in the film, I found Deckard to be portrayed as more of an android than his character in the novel–especially considering how his eyes glowed like all of the other androids(**). He additionally just appears more cold and withdrawn, and after finishing the novel I didn’t think that he was an android, but rather an apathetic individual who had gained empathy. In the film, the empathy Deckard learns is mostly be seen in his relationship with Rachel, but I wish that had been explored more. Also, due to the fact that it is a visual representation of the book, I believe that Ridley Scott was aware of the fact that more individuals would enjoy a budding relationship between Deckard and Rachel, and elements like that can definitely garner more attention than the novel would be able to.

In terms if the differences between the novel and the film, there is more attention paid to high-intensity action scenes, one of them being the classic chase scene occurring between Deckard and Salome. There’s a lot more drama added to the film’s representation, seen in the physical altercation between the two in her dressing room, the chase, and Salome falling through the glass. The choice of music during the chase scene reflected upon the intensity of the situation. While the camera does pan back to show viewers how Deckard feels after he has retired her, I don’t think it paid as much attention to his true feelings on the situation as I would have liked. I think Blade Runner is a great movie, but there were lots of things I wish made it to the big screen that were present in the novel.

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