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Texts In Time


Colin Hillman

on 23 June 2013

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Transcript of Texts In Time

texts in time
Advanced English, Module A
Joel Hillman
Self-centredness – both creators had strong scientific expertise, and made the creatures for their own personal gain, Tyrell for money, saying “commerce is our goal here at Tyrell”, and Frankenstein so that “a new species would bless [him] as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to [him]”, he did it for the ‘fame’.

Uncaring - Tyrell does not seem to care that his creations are “illegal” at all, although he does revel in Roy’s perfection, saying “you were made as well as we could make you”. Neither does Tyrell seem to be upset that his finest creations, the “NEXUS 6 models” are being “retired”.
Frankenstein vehemently denies the Monster his desire for friendship and a “mate” to ease his loneliness. Frankenstein is unmoved, and doesn’t care that the Monster is entirely alone in the world.

Life is not held in high regard or valued at all – neither creator really cares for their creation, Tyrell is proud of Roy, but does not truly value his life. Rachel, Tyrell’s latest and finest creation is regarded by him as “an experiment, nothing more.”
Death seems to be the way most characters end up in both texts.
The creatures value different things, but are willing to go to extreme lengths to get them. The replicants “want more life”, whereas the Monster wants only friendship and companionship.
Both Frankenstein and BR are aimed towards an general adult audience, as the content requires a level of maturity to understand the nuances – and they are both include elements of violence, with Blade Runner gaining an ‘M for Mature Audiences’ rating.

Realistic Worldspace - Shelly and Scott create a piece which is within the imagination of their audiences. Shelly captures the ideals of the Romantic period through emotions and nature. Scott pictures a city crowded, polluted and industrialised representing the concerns of people in the 1970s.
There is a significant difference in time between the two audiences.
Shelley composed Frankenstein in 1816, whereas Blade Runner was developed for release in 1982 (technically, the director’s cut was released in 1992). While looking back to Shelley’s writings of almost two hundred years ago, from a current perspective (in mid 2009), it can appear to be somewhat antiquated. Although at the time it was written, it was still wildly futuristic, as she “bid [her] hideous progeny go forth and prosper”.
Neither composer has any form of scientific training, and yet heavily lean on science for their storyline and content. Shelley writes in her Author’s Notes that she didn’t really know how this could be achieved, and so she purposely left the specific scientific detail ambiguous while she “endeavored to preserve the elementary principles of human nature”.

Shelley’s audience is experienced with the Romantic’s movement and she uses this as her setting, but uses a dark and Gothic subject matter to add a strong dichotomy to the work. Scott does a similar thing with ‘futuristic’ science fiction, by placing a new tale in the centre which stretches the common perception of the genre.
The director employs recognisable images like large cityscapes and enourmous, ever-present TV screens.

At the time of conceptual development, society was just becoming aware of pollution and man’s damaging effect on the environment, Scott then takes this idea to the furthest extent, amplifying and exaggerating the concerns by showing the total destruction of the natural environment evident in Blade Runner. Adding to this, Scott sets a bleak mood with constant rain, black and grey buildings and artificial lighting.
Physical environments – Blade Runner’s physical context was the eighties, with large industrial influences surrounding the director in his physical environment.

In Shelley’s work, there is a strong appreciation of the natural world, with eloquent descriptions of flawless wilderness and ice, a link could be made here to Shelley’s own physical context, in which the land is still untainted by human activity. Shelley refers extensively to the area around the Lake of Geneva, the Swiss Alps and Mont Blanc, which where famous European landmarks at the time.
Creator and creations – Each creator, Tyrell and Frankenstein show strong emotional disconnection and indifference to their creation’s plea; both creators are ‘loners’ and spend long times isolated.
The creatures are both rejected by society, Roy because replicants are “illegal”, and the Monster because he is so grotesque with “the yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was lustrous black and flowing, his teeth of a pearly whiteness, but those luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes and straight black lips.”

The Monster felt devastated after being rejected by his creator, Frankenstein. The Monster felt that Frankenstein should love him the most. The “demon” felt provoked to say to his creator, "All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound…"
In addition to being rejected by Frankenstein, he is refused by the DeLacy family, whom he “longed” to be accepted by; William Frankenstein, the young boy who responded out of fright and the man and drowning woman in the forest.

Rage and revenge – The creations of both texts make demands of their creators. The Monster’s demand is for a mate “equal in deformity", and Roy for “more life”. Frankenstein’s response was: “My rage was without bounds; I sprang on him, impelled by all the feelings which can arm one being against the existence of another”. Much later, Frankenstein dies of exhaustion, because of the consequences of the rage aimed at the Monster.
Roy’s demand, on the other hand, is impossible for Tyrell to meet, and because of his own rage, Roy kills him.

Human life does not seem to be given a particularly high value by the characters in these two texts, the replicants kill many people, and while the Monster does save a girl, he also swears “eternal hatred to all mankind”, and does kill several other people. The world of Blade Runner does not place any value at all on the ‘life’ of the replicants, with Deckard saying “replicants are like any other machine”, despite the fact that they are, actually, “organic”.

Consequences of science without ethics – when people pursue science to the furthest extent of its knowledge, without the foresight of thinking through the consequences of doing so, dangerous situations will ensue.
Both stories provide a moral tale of what can happen without these concerns for humanity.

Both texts challenge the definition of what is human and what it is to be monstrous. Is it defined genetically? Or is it by how we treat each other?
The replicants are thought to be ‘monstrous’, but even a monster behaves in a very ‘human’ way, with each creation saving people in their own context. Roy saves Deckard in the final scenes of the film, and the Monster saves the drowning girl and repeatedly declines to kill Frankenstein even though he has many, many opportunities.

Nature vs. Nurture – The Monster says: “Misery made me a fiend. Make me happy and I shall again be benevolent and good”, saying that the way he was treated, or nurtured, made him the way he is. The replicants are also clearly influenced by their treatment, for example, Roy and Rachel are both highly advanced replicants, but Roy has “done questionable things” and has no problem with killing many people, whereas when Rachel kills Leon, another replicant, she is visibly shaken.
In Frankenstein, there is only one creature with one creator, whereas in Blade Runner, there is one creator (and indirectly many genetic designers, like J.F. Sebastian) with many, many creatures.
The storyline of both texts is about the artificial creation of life, with the settings (bleak, dark, dingy city of Blade Runner compared to Frankenstein‘s pristine natural vistas), providing a contrast between the two works. Ridley Scott, the director of Blade Runner said of his film that “it set the pace for what is essentially urban science fiction, urban future…”

Both texts use the Science-Fiction genre and propose possibilities of the future of humanity. The stories are both based on fictional, futuristic plots, with scientific and technological advances not yet occurring in the composer’s own time.

Blade Runner demonstrates a large change in human society with the illegal “replicants”, created by the Tyrell Corp. and “were designed to copy human beings in every way, except emotions”. They form the basis for the plot, as they try to extend their four-year lifespan, while attempting to avoid Detective Rick Deckard, a “Blade Runner”, who is assigned the job of “retiring” them.

In Shelley’s text, the elements of Gothic and Romanticism are evident, a stark contrast is formed between the dark Gothic storyline and the Romantic scenery. The creator, Frankenstein, felt that he “could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I… renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption.”
The form of Frankenstein is a recount narrative novel, from the perspective of three different characters, whereas Blade Runner is a feature film designed for mass media viewing.
Language features – Blade Runner’s dialogue is very colloquial and ‘streetwise’, whereas Frankenstein‘s language is elaborate and ornate, especially the Monster’s archaic pronouns – “Thou hast made me more powerful than thyself, my height is superior to thine, my joints more supple… I am thy creature.”
Both writing styles mirror the times in which they were written.

Violence – While Shelley has the violent acts, expressed in subtle, minimal terms (people die, but in only one sentence, e.g. “I have murdered the lovely and the helpless; I have strangled the innocent”) Whereas Scott uses explicit, graphic and extended visuals to emphasise the brutality of the murders.

Pathetic fallacy, the idea of gaining respite from the natural world, is a technique evident in Frankenstein, (an example is the Monster saying “These bleak skies I hail, for they are kinder to me than your fellow beings” in reply to Frankenstein’s harsh words) however, there is a strong contrast here to Blade Runner, where there is no nature left, making this technique impossible.
Creative arrogance – Both texts explore the idea of going too far in search of knowledge or invention, without the consideration of ethics or the impact of the choices.

Is the genius answerable to the world? As both creators work with “unremitting ardour”, obsessional and single minded and focused on their own ambitions. They appear dedicated to learning “the secrets of heaven and earth” to the extent that Frankenstein becomes physically ill and “neglects” everyone and everything around him. Frankenstein also feels “A resistless and almost frantic impulse urged [him] forward; [he] seem[s] to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit”. While Tyrell becomes socially isolated, locking himself away on the highest floor of the Tyrell Corp. building, in an opulent, Victorian room, completely uncaring of what happens with his creations and the world around him, he is safe, and that is all that matters to him.
Shelley composed Frankenstein as part of a genial competition between her and some holidaying friends, for their own entertainment on a rainy weekend at Villa Diodati near Geneva, in Shelley’s own introduction she says: “I busied myself to think of a story – a story to rival those which had excited us to this task”. In contrast, Blade Runner was produced solely for cinematic mass media entertainment, making a net profit of around $US33 million for Warner Brothers Media.
There are passing references to a series of texts throughout Frankenstein and Blade Runner that provide a

Prometheus did something he wasn’t supposed to and was punished severely. Both Frankenstein and Tyrell ‘stole’ “the spark of life” and gave it to something that wasn’t supposed to have it.

Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Coleridge was Shelley’s contemporary, everyone was familiar with the story. Walton makes the comment that even though he is a sailor, he “shall kill no albatross”.
The influence gives the idea of the consequences of something lasting forever, particularly for Frankenstein, never being able to extricate himself from the situation.

Sorrows of Werther
Werther, the main character cannot have what he so “desires”, and as such, kills himself. The Monster, also, cannot have what he wants, and after Frankenstein’s death, commits suicide.

Plutarch’s Lives
From this text the Monster learns a cursory glance at history and an account of the lives inside.

Paradise Lost
The Monster compares himself to both Adam, who feels he was abandoned by his father, and to Satan, who was universally hated.

The two texts show streaks of both Gothic and Romantic genres.
People have dealt with moral issues in the past as well.
Studying both these two texts has helped me see that the 'herd mentality', of immediately hating someone who is different, is a universal theme.
It would be interesting to see whether Blade Runner is still as alluded to, and has the notoriety of Frankenstein in two hundred years.
Composers can often take from their contemporaries and other authors, as people are inspired and influenced, they use themes, ideas and elements from other texts to further their own.
Studying these two texts together has helped me see that there are similar issues that people have been trying to find answers to for a long time.
Despite the similarities between the plots of the two texts, there is a wide range of techniques available to composers to develop their texts.
Both of the forms have their advantages and disadvantages, for example, film can use sound and visual effects to evoke images and feelings, and writings allows for easy background explanation and things like expressing thoughts.
Interestingly, in both texts, the audience is left feeling greater sympathy for the downtrodden creations than for the creators.
Even though the two composers had very different physical and social environments, they both came up with texts dealing with similar themes and ideas. I guess sometimes strong stories are worth 're-telling'.
Some Helpful URLs
This promotional work was commissioned by the Board of Studies to promote this study to prospective teachers and students to demonstrate the connection between Ridley Scott's 'Blade Runner' and Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'.

The representation compares and contrasts the two texts with regard to form, purpose, audience, context, themes/values and composer's technique.

The Syllabus is designed so "that students come to a heightened understanding of the meaning and significance of each text." I have found this approach to be helpful, and to give examples, I have placed my personal insights at the end of each section, and I hope that when you are encouraged to do the same.
Clicking the large arrow in the lower right-hand corner will guide you through the presentation, the smaller backward (left-hand pointing) arrow will take you one set back, clicking and holding on the back arrow will show a new pop-up menu with only one option to begin again.
"In this elective students compare how the treatment of similar content in a pair of texts composed in different times and contexts may reflect changing values and perspectives. By considering the texts in their contexts and comparing values, ideas and language forms and features, students come to a heightened understanding of the meaning and significance of each text."
- HSC Advanced English Syllabus
The two stories are from very different times and have very different contexts, yet each deal with similar themes, of loneliness, abandonment and creation. Even though these texts are far separated in time, form, and style; they explore issues and values that people deal with, regardless of their environment and so the link between these texts is strong.

"The more things change, the more they're the same"
I know its not exactly accurate, but it's apparently very accurate, (except for the lightning, but I suppose you can't have a horror film wihtout gothic styled horror...)
"The more things change, the more they're the same".
(Translation from French "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose")
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