Human memory remains terra incognita for the contemporary science. In spite of all the efforts to research and understand the essence and functioning of human memory, the modern science has failed to understand the full potential and functions of memory. At the same time, memory was a subject of a particular interest of artists, who also attempted to understand the significance and impact of memories on human beings and their life. In this respect, it is possible to refer to numerous science-fiction works, such as Blade Runner by Ridley Scott and Solaris by Stanislaw Lem. In fact, the two aforementioned works refer to memories as an important part of human life and, what is more, both Ridley Scott and Stanislaw Lem attempted to extrapolate human memories on other beings, aliens. It is quite noteworthy that both artists agreed on the importance of memories for human beings since memories constituted an essential part of human personality, human identity.
Blade Runner is a film created in 1982 that some critics characterize as cyberpunk vision of the future. Obviously it may be referred to as a classic work of the genre but at the same time this film is so original and individual that it is hardly possible to standardize it comparing with others and attempting to find some common features. Nonetheless, the problem, the direct raises in the film is very important and to a certain extent typical and consequently may be traced in other films.
First of all, in order to better understand the main theme and the problem of the film, it is necessary to briefly say a few words about its plot. Basically, the film predicts that mankind will develop biotechnologies to the extent that it will be possible to create replicants, human clones used to serve in the colonies outside Earth but with fixed life spans. The action of the film takes place in Los Angeles in 2019, and the main character Deckard has to return to work from retirement because five replicants escaped from an offworld colony to Earth and that is where the real troubles begin.
In fact, what the film shows to the audience is the attempt of human beings to create the clones, which would serve them without any possibility to lead a normal, independent life, with rights equal to rights of other people. Probably the entity of the problem may be revealed through the fact that replicants are constructed’ superior to human beings but they are deprived of equality because in such a case the whole human race would be in great danger of being oppressed by superior creatures.
In this respect, memory plays a particularly important role. In fact, unlike humans replicants do not possess memories as human beings do. Human memories are constructed in the course of the life of human beings and it is their personal experience they have lived through. In contrast, replicants as well as their memories are conditioned by their creators and, what is more, replicants apparently lack the real experience and real memories which they experienced on their own (Sammon, 185). As a result, replicants turn out to be inferior compared to men because, even though physically they resemble human beings, they can perform similar functions and lead a life similar to that of humans, they still remain rather under-developed compared to humans. In other words, on comparing humans’ and replicants’ memories, the latter remain rather infantile, while the former are experienced, real human beings.
Moreover, it is even possible to estimate that it is memories that make human beings so human and so different from replicants. Replicants do not have true memories. As a result, they are deprived of feelings and emotions human beings can have because replicants did not live as long as humans and their true memories refer only to the short period of their life after the creation. In such a way, replicants are very limited and cannot become human that makes them inferior to humans, though physically and, in a way, intellectually, they are superior to humans.
In general the film may be treated as a film noir, which warns the audience against potential danger in the future caused by great and uncontrolled progress of technologies (Sammon, 173). At any rate, the film seems to be quite pessimistic but nonetheless it is rather philosophical. In fact, the director Ridley Scott, in his film, explores corruption, man’s destructive nature, but he also delves into emotion and the possibility of someone else creating those emotions for us, as is the case for the replicants. As a result, on the director simply implies that probably human beings are also someone’s creatures.
On analyzing Salaris (1961) by Stanislaw Lem, it is possible to estimate that memories play even more significant role in this work than in The Blade Runner. To put it more precisely, the novel depicts efforts of human beings to establish contact with an alien life-form. Physically, the alien is the ocean, but, in actuality, it is the solid living being, organism covering the surface of the planet. Numerous efforts of human beings to research the planet and the alien organism have failed leading to tragic results. For instance, Gibarian commits suicide, which reasons remain unclear to the main character Kris Kelvin, who is sent to the space station to investigate the situation on the station and take decision on the future of researches of the planet. However, as Kris arrives to the station, the mystery starts to uncover since he learns the huge power of the ocean-alien, which is able to mirror human memories and revive them. To put it more precisely, Kris Kelvin has tragic memories of his past, namely the death of his wife whom he loved, but failed to understand her and prevent her from committing a suicide. On conducting his researches on the station, his memories get materialized and his wife, Rheya (Harey) appears as his visitors. In such a way, the ocean-alien responds to attempts of the communication and researches undertaken by humans.
In such a way, the author does not simply show the failure of human beings to research and understand the alien life-form, but he also shows that human memories and human mind are domains which are not fully understood by humans. In other words, the novel evolves from the researches of the alien life-form into psychological self-analysis of main characters. Instead of researching the planet, they return to their memories, revive them and even attempt to change them. For instance, Kris Kelvin attempts to take Rheya with him back to the Earth since he cannot stand the death of his wife and remorse makes his life unbearable, especially when he can see, communicate and love the replicant of his wife produced by the ocean.
In this respect, the efforts of the main character to reconstruct memories of Rheya concerning their past are particularly noteworthy. In fact, Rheya, as well as other creatures-memories created by the ocean, is a kind of tabula rasa she does not have any memories but those she can learn from Kris. Moreover, Rheya, herself, is the memory of the real, human being, who used to be the wife of the main character, and she cannot exist without Kris’s memories. At the same time, the author shows that the alien organism made main characters reevaluate their lives and their past on the basis of their memories. As a result, main characters rather research themselves, their own internal world and psychology, than the ocean-alien. Hence, the author probably attempts to show that humans beings should understand themselves first, before attempting to understand other life-forms.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is possible to conclude that human memories affect consistently the life of people. At the same time, the memory is probably the main thing that makes human beings human. Blade Runner and Solaris perfectly reveals the possibilities of the creation of replicants, who look like human beings, but still they are not human because they do not have memories of their own. Instead, all their memories are conditioned by human beings.