08 October 2017

'Blade Runner 2049' Review: Science Fiction and Philosophy


Q: What is 'the real world'?
A: The world we live in, the world we know - the world we see, hear and touch every day.

Q: What is philosophy?
A: Asking questions about the world and about life. What is truth? What is reality? Is there a truth/reality beyond this world?

Q: What is science fiction?
A: An imaginary story set in an imaginary world of the future with imaginary advanced science & technology.

We live every day in 'the real world'. We accept it as it is and don't ask any questions. Art - especially science fiction - can be a powerful tool for looking at our world in a different way and asking questions about it. That is, science fiction can be a powerful tool for philosophy.

In movies, the best examples of this are the Wachowski brothers' Matrix 1 (1999) and Matrix 2 (2003). Matrix 1 dealt with reality vs perception. Matrix 2 dealt with free will vs determinism.

In other words, science fiction is the means and philosophy is the end. This is how it should be. The problem is sometimes the opposite happens - science fiction becomes the end and philosophy becomes the means. That is - instead of using science fiction to ask philosophical questions about our real world of today, a book/movie tries to ask philosophical questions about an imaginary science-fiction world of the future. This is not philosophy - it is pseudo-philosophy.

The classic examples of this are Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982). American and European critics hailed both these movies as masterpieces - because they don't know the difference between philosophy and pseudo-philosophy.

And now Dennis Villeneuve gives us the sequel to Blade Runner - Blade Runner 2049. Again, American and European critics have hailed the movie - calling it the 21st century version of Blade Runner. They are absolutely right. In Blade Runner, a man falls in love with a robot. In Blade Runner 2049, a robot falls in love with a hologram.

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