I've watched Ridley Scott's landmark sci-fi dystopian noir Blade Runner a handful of times over the years. I watched it in high school and didn't really "get it." I watched it for two different classes in college, where I finally gained an appreciation for it. And I've watched the movie two or three times since then. I've considered Blade Runner one of the best films ever made, and up there with 2001: A Space Odyssey as one of the all-time most important works of science fiction.
But the past couple times I watched, one scene in particular stood out like a sore thumb. The sex scene between the main character, Deckard, and the female lead, Rachael, that occurs about two-thirds of the way through the film. Take a look for yourself (don't worry, there's no actual nudity):
The real questionable stuff starts around the 3:15 mark of the video. Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) and Rachael (played by Sean Young) share a tender moment, but Rachael becomes flustered and tries to leave the apartment. Deckard slams the door shut to prevent her from getting away, then throws her against a wall, corners her, commands her to tell him to kiss her, and has her way with her. She's crying as it happens.
Maybe I'm interpreting this all incorrectly. A quick google search for "blade runner sex scene" shows that most people on the internet are as confused and conflicted as I am.
Some people defend the scene by saying "Rachael is a replicant, so it's not rape." Considering the entire plot of Blade Runner revolves around replicants having the same emotions that humans do, I don't buy this excuse at all.
Others say it just goes to show that Deckard is an imperfect character. I think that's probably what Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford were going for. Everyone appreciates a flawed protagonist; it humanizes them. But there's a difference between "protagonist is kind of a jerk who just wants to do the right thing" and "protagonist is a rapist who just wants to do the right thing."
It reminds me of all the controversy surrounding Woody Allen right now. He might be a child molester, but he's such a witty guy! People want to ignore sexual abuse charges because he's made so many good movies. Does Blade Runner get the same pass? He might've raped the female lead, but the movie is such a cultural touchstone that everyone sort of forgets about it.
Apparently Harrison Ford and Sean Young never clicked during production of the film, and the scene was incredibly rough to shoot. Sean Young said she had to take a few weeks off after shooting the scene because she had so many bruises.
But in a recent interview about sex in movies, Young seems to have a more positive view on Blade Runner. She says a sex scene in a movie is good when the woman looks happy, and that's why it worked for her in No Way Out and in Blade Runner. Huh? I've re-watched the sex scene a few times now, and her character seems to be closer to sobbing than to smiling.
If the actress who was actually involved in the scene in question has no problem with it now, are my complaints unwarranted? I still want to fast-forward through it every time I watch Blade Runner. What do you think?