Blade Runner 2036: Nexus Dawn

(For my essay on Blade Runner 2022: Black Out click HERE)

For Denis Villeneuve’s new Blade Runner film press junket, he hired two directors to create short films explaining the back story of Blade Runner 2049, those important events that set up the framework for the new world. In Blade Runner 2022, he asked Shinichiro Watanabe to create an anime. In Blade Runner 2036 and 2048, Luke Scott, Ridley Scott’s son directed two interesting shorts. The first, Nexus Dawn, explains how an industrialist Niander Wallace (Jared Leto) averted worldwide cataclysmic famine through his artificial farming techniques and industries. He is obsessed with proliferating the human race throughout the Universe to continue their existence indefinitely. In this pursuit, he sees himself as something of a savior, a god if you will, who wants to continue Tyrell’s work and create more replicants to expand the number of off-world colonies exponentially, and therefore, humanity’s odds of survival as they consume more and more natural resources.

In 2022: Black Out, a duo of replicants who escaped from the harsh off-world of Kalantha work together to destroy a power generator in Los Angeles that sets off a powerful EMP thrusting the world back into darkness and destroying all digital files, including those on the replicants still wandering Earth. This event led to the prohibition of replicant technology to prevent more replicants from going rogue. Now, with Wallace’s pull as Earth’s savior from starvation, he has set up a private meeting with the Magistrate Sector EL1R9-27. He wants to force their hand and go ahead with his vision, but he needs their permission first: “You remember hunger, so you indulge the recluse whose pursuits keep that hunger at bay.”

The leader of the group and Wallace’s main interrogator is played by Benedict Wong (whose upcoming role in 2018’s Annihilation I am looking forward- and directed by Alex Garland of Ex Machina!). Prohibition is not subject to debate, nor is its repeal. “Yet we are debating,” Wallace responds. He then plays his trump card and reveals that the secretary who guided him into the meeting is more than human, he is a new replicant model. A model that will never rebel or run from its creators or owners, but will only obey the commands it is given. He gives the replicant a choice: its own life or Wallace’s. The replicant’s eye twitches, showing intense discomfort and unease, and paying an interesting homage to Leon in the first film when he is being interrogated using the Voigt-Kampf machine by Blade Runner Holden. The replicant cuts himself and registers pain and then kills himself by cutting his jugular with a piece of glass. The scene is morally repugnant and draws responses from the magistrates that what he has done is wrong and grotesque.

“Laws chain the hands of progress.” Wallace believes, and rightly so, that human beings cannot exist forever on the Earth. We must move beyond our own planet and our own solar system to thrive in the millennia to come. He is something of an Elon Musk type, but with a much more grandiose sense of his own place and destiny in human history. Musk wants to create a martian colony of more than one million people within sixty years. He wants to create man-machine interfaces between human beings and computers and artificial intelligences (ala Ghost in the Shell) to make sure we are never destroyed by our own creations. Wallace wants to create superior humans, angels who can ascend to heaven and polish the firmament, rather than letting it remain to become cracked and disused.

We have opportunities at this point in time mirroring many of those in the Blade Runner universe. The bells and piano chiming play out over the soundtrack of this short film. They signal the dawn of a new era of nexus who will bring the human species to nine more planets by 2049. In our own world we may be able to achieve similarly drastic and awesome possibilities in the coming years, but the laws cannot stand in the way of progress. And if they do, they are worse than unjust, they are deadly. And in a postmodern, nihilistic world where morality stands on no eternal ground and lies defunct in the scrap heap of spooks consigned to the ages of stupidity and bad thinking, we should have no qualms about doing what is necessary to proliferate our own image through the cosmos. In an age of dead gods and un-grounded universal foundations, when we know that our existence is a mere fluke, an accident of chance, in the twilight of the gods, we can uplift ourselves to take their place. And after the dark night of the soul when we dispense with our souls as mere spectres of the imagination, we can arrive in the full dawn of a new day. If we take the necessary measures.

 

Cody Ward

[This essay series continues here with Blade Runner 2048: Nowhere to Run!]

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