The hidden meaning of Blade Runner 2049

Denis Villeneuve’s masterpiece of 21st century myth making creates a complex allegory of human liberation.

“In Blade Runner 2049, science itself has been perverted as a tool of power and control.”

In its Golden Age science fiction predicted that technology would save us. Bigger and better machines — from kitchen gadgets to space rockets — would liberate humankind.

Allegory : a story that can be interpreted to reveal a hidden meaning, often philosophical, political or religious.

It’s rare for Hollywood to spend $160 million dollars on allegorical storytelling. The box office flop of Blade Runner 2049 is a reminder why. It’s a movie that, like the original Blade Runner, disappointed audiences who came expecting scifi blockbuster cinema. Stories being told on a hidden level beneath the surface, are often a mess on the surface.

“Jung believed that our conscious mind was only a small aspect of our self, and that by exploring the unconscious we would find our true self.”

In 1915 the psychologist Carl Jung undertook a journey…to discover his true self.

Illustration from the Red Book of Carl Jung.

The journey to discover the true Self.

To survive in the world humans must create a Persona. Who are we? Where do we belong? What is our value? As we find answers to these questions our Persona takes shape.

Ego
Id
Super Ego
Priestess

The Anima

The Anima archetype manifests all the qualities repressed to create a male Persona. Kindness. Intimacy. Emotionality. Love. The Anima archetype will seem to fulfill all of the male Persona’s needs. But the Anima is merely a projection.

Anima.

The Shadow

The Shadow archetype is both the most dangerous and the most essential to integrate. The Shadow is made of all the parts of the self we are scared to know. Malice, hate and violence, but also strength, determination and willpower, all rest in the Shadow.

Shadow.
Mother.
Father.
God.

God is Blind

God is the most deceptive of the Archetypes. God seems to be all seeing, all knowing, all powerful. It is the God archetype who creates Personas. And destroys them. God gives life and God takes life away. God is jealous, and insists you recognise no God but Him.

The Self

The Archetypes must be integrated and the process of Individuation completed so the Persona can discover its true Self.

Allegory invites the audience into a private discussion that only those with the knowledge and willingness to decrypt the story can understand.

Blade Runner 2049 allegorises the Jungian journey of self-actualization to lead the audience who are willing to follow to the hardest questions of human existence.

I tell stories about the future, technology and culture. Published by The Guardian, WIRED, BBC etc.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store