When I saw Bladerunner 2049, although I thought it was a great movie when it came to certain artistic aspects, as a follow-up to the original Bladerunner I was disappointed. Until I read Mark Millar’s idea about the final scene. Now it is for me the only thing that gives Bladerunner 2049 a sense of transcendence that saves it from oblivion and raises it to the level of the original, beyond the purely audiovisual aspects.
The ideas that I expose below are born from this new perspective, although the parallels with «The Neverending Story» are my thing.
K, or Joe, does not exist. At least, not as we believe he exists. He is a fantasy character, an elaborate memory created by who is supposed to be Deckard’s daughter. If it were not so, the snow at the end, in the hands of her and on her, would only be an ornament. And I was taught that in good movies and good literature everything has a meaning. Nothing should be casual. And less in the LAST SCENE.
Wallace does not exist either. There is nothing in this movie, except the film itself, as a meta-narrative in the universe of Bladerunner, the original movie. Only the last scene is real, although she lives halfway between reality and fantasy.
This is for me the only thing that saves 2049 from falling into oblivion (the plot of the main story, without this new perspective, has always seemed to me rather vulgar and boring), and suddenly makes it a masterpiece, misunderstood by those who hate the movie, but above all by those who love the movie.
Deckard is not a replicant. Maybe he’s a human whose mind has been manipulated with memories, the pioneer of a new posthumanity … maybe all bladerunners are manipulated in that way. In fact, replicants are not supposed to age. They are created with the same appearance they will have while they work, or they exist. So seeing Deckard played by Ford older for me in the end comes to mean that he’s human, albeit modified.
Actually, the idea of the replicant can be transferred to the virtual world. It is not that K does not exist, He does not exist in reality.
If all this is true, and I don’t care what others think, for me it is, the character played by Ana de Armas, Joi (clearly inspired by the movie HER, not only the character but his whole love scene), she is no more than an echo, which reminds K that he does not exist … how other beings can exist. Although really, that does not mean he does not exist either.
For me it is now clear that this woman who designs virtual stories, in a future in which virtual reality has to be almost indistinguishable from reality, knows the mind of Deckard, and plays with it. The ending is an echo of the end of the original Bladerunner, and is an intentional echo. Although I do believe that the facts of the original are real. Memories of real events that she knows. Why, and why she acts like that, that’s another story …
We can see Deckard’s reflection in the bubble glass where she lives, her Ivory Tower. Child Empress. The two realities, the Bastian that transcends reality and fantasy. There is a chapter, in «The Neverending Story», where Atreyu has to pass a test, a door that is a mirror, and in it he sees himself as Bastian. If there is a classic fantasy novel that plays with meta-narrative, this is «The Neverending Story». Joe (or K) is the Atreyu, who leads Deckard to the Child Empress, to heal her, giving her a name.
It should also be noted that the two names of the character played by Ryan Gosling, «Joe» and «K», sound like «Joke» in English.
Michael Ende, the author of «The Neverending Story», wrote other books, not all oriented to the younger audience. All of them, in any case, contain large doses of philosophy. Among the books «for adults» he wrote, highlights «Mirror in the mirror».
There are more details. Here below, in the first photo, we see her designing the snow, and playing with it, and the reflection of the entrance door and of Deckard passing through it, and the exit door, in the background. We might think that it is snow from outside, that falls through an open skylight. But no, of course, that’s impossible, because she lives in a bubble, and also, when she turns around to face Deckard, the snow disappears.
Before, during that story that is told to Deckard to lead him to his daughter (we will assume that she is), we can see two sphinxes facing one another, in Las Vegas; or when Deckard quotes a phrase from «Treasure Island» and says that the only thing he can do there is to read. He says he has dreamed of cheese. He has dreamed of something he has read in a book, but it does not exist there, and he tells it to someone whose story is invented like a book, one who does not really exist there. It is augmented reality, or virtual … it is fiction. (In the background, maybe it does exist, just as there are characters like Atreyu, or ourselves, in this holographic universe, although this is taken from a poetic perspective, not literal). There, where Deckard lives, there are only shadows of the past, books, and whiskey to forget.
Of course, everyone is free to interpret the movie as they like. This is how I like it, with much difference.
By the way, speaking of alternative or increased realities, I don’t know if more people besides me have seen the parallelism between the forms of the end of Valerian, of Luc Besson, and the end of Bladerunner 2049. Valerian disappointed me enough, beyond of the visual, but it has some formidable details, and that, the way it deals with the issue of virtual and augmented reality, is one of them.