HSC English (Advanced)
Module A: ‘Texts in Time’
Frankenstein and Blade Runner
BLADE RUNNER (Ridley Scott, Warner Bros., 1982)
Analysis of key scenes and links to Frankenstein
The composers of Blade Runner have forged deliberate connections with Frankenstein, a text that has attained a mythical status in contemporary culture. If the purpose of myth is to explore issues of critical importance to a particular society, then Blade Runner’s re-engagement with the concerns of Frankenstein (which is in turn a reconceptualising of the Greek myth of Prometheus) suggests the values of the earlier text remain relevant. The film does, however, re-present Frankenstein’s core values in order to ...view middle of the document...
The text introduces the central conflict of the film and positions the audience to see Replicants as the malignant enemy who must be ‘retired’. The euphemism for ‘execution’ informs the responder there is no moral value placed on this task – replicants are merely machines. This initial positioning, however, will become increasingly problematic for the audience as, in the same way Shelley does in Frankenstein, the created beings are given a voice that generates sympathy.
The mis en scene reveals a decaying megalopolis. L.A 2019 is an industrialised, fiery hell, the panoramic shot emphasising the eternity of the wasteland. Subdued lighting and eerie, synthesised music with heavy and ominous tones construct a melancholic and surreal atmosphere of perpetual night; it is a dystopic vision of the future invoking the science fiction genre and its cautionary purpose.
(Throughout the film the mis en scene continues to emphasise a world exploited to extinction in the name of technology and commerce. Acid rain, crowded streets, smoke imposed upon every shot, immense neon advertisements that invade all available space visually represent the catastrophic effects of unchecked technological advancement upon the natural world. There appears no natural landscape at any point in the film; appropriation of film noir techniques of cinematography – subdued lighting and shadowed faces – furthers the sense of a spent world. This is one of the most obvious contrasts to Frankenstein: while the earlier text retained the presence of nature as a commanding and restorative power of great beauty, Blade Runner’s mis en scene represents instead the awful consequences of failing to heed to moral warning made by Mary Shelley)
The imposition of a gigantic eye on the screen, reflecting nothing but the endless industrial-scape of fire and night, suggests this world is soulless …. If the eye is the window to the soul, then this world is as vacuous as the eye of the Creature that first repelled Frankenstein.
2. Introduction of the protagonist – Deckard (4/5)
The notion of a valueless world is reinforced in the protagonist, Deckard. This again is a significant departure from the earlier text where the creator himself became the protagonist. Here, Deckard is the hunter and destroyer of Replicants. He resembles the film noir hero in that he is in fact an ‘anti-hero’: a man devoid of the characteristics usually ascribed to heroes, he is cynical and disillusioned, reluctant to accept the task into which he is coerced by a corrupt chief of police. A wasted world inspires no heroism and becomes one of the principal means of critique throughout the film.
3. Tyrell Corporation (end 6/7)
Low angle shots emphasise the immensity of the Tyrell building, while intertextual references to temples of ancient worship in the shape and appearance of the building suggest this is the seat of power in this world. It is a shrine to the false gods of commerce and technology, emphasised...