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Spoiler alert! Blade Runner 2049's ending – what does it mean?


No doubt you were left stunned and awed by the scope and scale of majestic sci-fi sequel Blade Runner 2049.

Having received rapturous reviews and climbed to the top of the UK box office, Denis Villeneuve's movie leaves many questions circulating around the mind. Here's what screenwriters Hampton Fancher (who co-wrote the original movie) and Michael Green make of the sequel's elusive yet indescribably human ending.


The climax

The end of the movie finds replicant-who-thought-he-was-human K (Ryan Gosling) dying of a gunshot wound as Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is reunited with his long-lost daughter Dr. Ana Stelline (Carla Juri).

Stelline is the memory designer responsible for implanting false memories into replicants, and as K laments, "all the best memories are hers." The movie ends on an open-ended note as Deckard approaches the glass partition dividing him from Stelline, placing his hand on it as the music rises and the film cuts to black.

Hampton Fancher's take

According to Fancher, this wasn't what was originally scripted, revealing to Collider: "I didn’t have that ending in my version, so it had nothing to do with what I was doing. That was the work of the current workers."

This wouldn't be the first time Fancher's work on the Blade Runner universe has been adjusted by other writers. To his consternation his original Blade Runner screenplay was reworked by David Peoples only for Fancher to be brought back for further revisions on the rewrite.

And you thought being a replicant was tough.

Michael Green's interpretation

Green picked up from Fancher and says this ending was always what he and Villeneuve envisaged.

"When I saw my way through a story that preserved a lot of what Hampton did and had a few different turns along the way, that was from Minute One the ending. It was in the first outline I wrote, never changed. I think the only thing that changed in that scene is occasionally a bit more dialogue came in and out, in and out, but that last moment was the moment. That was what the story to build for."

The alternate ending

Green also reveals that the wordless sequence originally had more dialogue, but that he and Villeneuve finally settled on the haunting silent poetry of the final edit.

"There was maybe one more exchange shot, and I remember talking about that with Denis," Green says. "I felt certainly the less said the better, and he felt that too but there were a couple of pretty lines that we’d talk through that he just thought might be worth having in there. But if the movie had played right, and I always felt that it would in Denis’ hand, that scene is pure emotion and then pure release, and then anything said is just pure music."

Is Deckard a replicant?

The most divisive issue in the Blade Runner universe centres on the human/inhuman nature of Ford's character. And as you'd expect the two writers are divided on the issue, with Fancher firmly believing Deckard isn't an android.

"Yeah, I always [believed] he’s not a replicant. I thought if he’s a replicant, the game’s over. I think he doesn’t know, also. So to make him a replicant—Ridley from the beginning [said] he’s a replicant, and I from the beginning said he’s not, or we shouldn’t know if he is, I don’t know if he is. The press has always asked me, I don’t know. And when Ridley put in the ostensible evidence that he is, the red eyes or whatever, in Blade Runner 1 I didn’t like that."

Green however believes it's the ambiguity: "The fact that it’s a question is what’s important. The puzzle of Blade Runner, one of the many reasons it’s the classic it is, is that the chasing for authenticity is both baked into the narrative of the story and the meta-narrative of the film that there is no authentic answer to that question. Which just meant that telling the further story, that had to be baked into the story as well, that everyone who watches it has that question of which version should I watch, what does that mean, and the answer is you don’t get to know. Generally American audiences are very uncomfortable with that level of irresolution. Blade Runner challenges that and it’s not just an American favorite, it’s a global favourite."

What did you make of the Blade Runner 2049 ending? And do you think Deckard is a replicant? Let us know @Cineworld.

Recap our Blade Runner blog series!

Part 1: The original novel

Part 2: The original movie

Part 3: Which version do you prefer?

Part 4: The soundtrack

Part 5: The legacy of the original Blade Runner

Part 6: What to expect from the sequel

Part 7: Replicant or not?