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Copy of comparative study of texts and contexts- Frankenstein and Blade Runner
Transcript of Copy of comparative study of texts and contexts- Frankenstein and Blade Runner
TEXTS AND CONTEXTS A comparison of how the treatment of similar content in a pair of texts composed in different times and perspectives may reflect changing values and perspectives. FRANKENSTEIN and BLADE RUNNER Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner may be fictitious constructions of their composers’ imaginations, but they also explore and address the societal issues and paradigms of their society, and work to critique the values and ideas at the time of composition, even reaching further to future generations. Meet the Author Mary Shelley(born Godwin) 1797- 1851
the daughter of the political philosopher, William Godwin and Mary Wollestonecraft, a well-known feminist
obtained an onformal education, supplemented by the conversations of creative intellects such as William Wordsworth, Charles Lamb, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
married Pery Bysshe Shelley, a Romantic poet, with whom she had four children
only one of her children survived to adulthood;her personal encounters with death often cited as an influence on her works
influenced to write the novel following a dream after a night of ghost stories with poets Byro and Shelley. Her vision:to create a story"which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror"
In 1818 Frankenstein was first published anonymously
died of a brain tumor in 1851, aged 53 Meet the Director Ridley Scott 1937-
started out as an art sudent, and later switched to film
went to school in west Hartlepool, north England- industrial area.
he says of the place he grew up in:"The air smelled like toast. Toast is quite nice, but when you realize it's steel, and it's probably particles, it's not very good. Crossing the footbridge at night, you'd be walking above the steel mill, crossing through the smoke, dirt, and crap, looking down into the fire."
sees the visual element of film as the most important ingredient, plot and character development= miniscule importance INFLUENCES Context Romanticism 1805-1830 a literary and artistic movement in the above-mentioned era- came as a direct reaction to the Enlightenment era, known for its rationalism, belief in facts and logic, existence of complete and absolute truths only.
this period emphasised the:
individual; subjective; irrational; imaginative;
personal; spontaneous; emotional; visionary; transcendental an emphasis on emotional and imaginative spontaneity- the sublime
the importance of self-expression and individual feeling
an almost religious response to nature
emphasis on the imagination as a positive and creative faculty
an interest in and concern for the outcasts of society: tramps, beggars, obsessive characters and the poor and disregarded
An idea of the poet as a visionary figure, with an important role to play as prophet (in both political and religious terms).
an interest in ‘primitive’ forms of art– for instance in the work of early bards, in ancient ballads and folksongs
A fondness for the exotic, the remote, the mysterious, the weird, the monstrous, the diseased and even satanic. Form and structure Frankestein Frankenstein is a prose novel, published in 1818. It has the subtitle: The Modern Prometheus, alluding to the Greek classical about Prometheus, the ambitious transgressor and his exploits.
Each story is narrated in the first person but there are more voices that emerge in the letters of Elizabeth and Frankenstein’s father.The structure of the novel is such that: the narrative allows for the suspension of disbelief that allows
the reader to believe in the events and characters of the novel’s fictional narrative (adds a sense of realism). Its recount form influencs the audience to experience events as the characters do, which adds thrill and excitement, and enhances tension as happenings are described. it also connects audience to the characters’ emotion and reactions It is an epistolary novel, written as a series of documents: letters of Walton, Elizabeth, Frankenstein’s father. In terms of structure, Frankenstein is a narrative and can be seen as a series of concentric circles or as parallel plots. The first circle is the story of Robert Walton, an adventurous sea captain aspiring to reach the North Pole, a dream in Shelley’s time. Writes to his sister about the events of the voyage, and his meeting with a most peculiar man whose story he shares with her.
The next circle is the story of Dr Frankenstein who is found on the ice and saved by Walton. He realises the similarity between himself and Walton- ambition, and delivers his own personal story as a cautionary tale about what happens to those who are obsessed with achieving glory and reject all companionship.
The inner circle is the story of the monster, who remains unnamed and who articulately explains his suffering to Frankenstein and pleads for Frankenstein’s attention to his needs. He is central to the novel as an illustration of the results of obsession. It is a novel because the technology at the time did not provide any other medium of presenting thought and views.
-being a novel also means that it retains its integrity and keeps with the conventions of the time, e.g. the gothic. At this time, most writings were poetry texts, but the prose novel is an amalgamation of the philosophical thinking at the time-mostly from the Romantic poets. Blade Runner in a film produced first in 1982, then in 1992. It is a futuristic vision of what the world could come to due to the societal issues at the time of composition: threats of nuclear holocaust, consumerism, and globalisation. It uses subjective narration, where the audience knows only as much as, or less than, the characters in the film do. The film takes an allegorical form as plot events take on meanings that are greater than their function within the logic of the narrative. Blade runner is a film because the technology of the time allowed it to be presented to the audience visually. It is also a film because it aims to position the audience within the text, making the film ideas realistic and something they can relate to. Rather than simply reading it as a book, the audience experiences the setting and ideas first hand, and therefore are able to identify with and make comparisons between the ideas presented in the film and their own society. As the old adage says, “Seeing is believing” Blade Runner is a film with multiple plots. All three significant plots are connected by Deckard the blade runner:
Plot One: The detective story: Deckard, a blade runner is asked to complete the retirement of six rogue replicants who have returned to earth from the colonies.
Plot Two: The rebellion: Six rebel replicants have escaped from the colonies to earth where they are seeking their Maker, Eldon Tyrell, owner of the Tyrell corporation which specializes in creating the ultimate in artificial life. They have been equipped with a failsafe four year life span which they want to exceed because they have tasted life and want more.
Plot Three: The romance: Deckard meets and grows close to the latest in the replicants, Rachael, a sensitive woman, who is not aware of her artificial status. Blade Runner Purpose Frankenstein is a cautionary or didactic tale, warning about the dangers of the acquisition of knowledge, obsession, and parental abandonment and responsibility. It presents the possible consequences that may befall humanity because of the disruption of the natural order; what could happen if humans attempt to take on the role of God-relating this to the Promethean myth. “Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, that he who aspires to become greater that his nature will allow.” Frankenstein Likewise, Blade Runner is also a cautionary or didactic tale, warning of the dangers of unchecked scientific and technological growth and experimentation. It outlines the possible effects of interrupting the natural order, once again relating this to the Promethean Myth. Possible consequences of growing wealth and the influence of corporatization and capitalism, changing demographics , the effects of pollution and overpopulation Basically a response to the contextual setting of the novel. Time of scientific development.
Portray the society’s treatment of women, and draw attention to the sorry state of women in the society Response to the contextual setting as well. Time of widespread scientific development, economic growth-seen by the introduction of globalization and world trade. Critique of the political powers of the time- Reaganism- the effects of his policies on the populace- increased povery, and the abuse of office.
Feminism and women’s rights Blade Runner Audience Shelley addressed an educated 19th century audience, one interested and caught up in the events of the time. This audience was largely philosophical, also questioning the role of innovative science in society, and the effects it could have. Because the audience had been influenced by other Romantic literature- from the Romantic context, and also its association with the then popular Gothic genre, one would expect the reception of the novel to have been all positive, but on the contrary; reception was mixed. Overally, the early negative
reception may have been due to the fact that each text broke boundaries. . . .on, though, in many parts, the execution is imperfect, and bearing the marks of an unpractised hand. It is one of those works, however, which, when we have read, we do not well see why it should have been written;--for a jeu d'esprit it is somewhat too long, grave, and laborious, …
The Edinburgh Magazine and Literary Miscellany: A New Series of "The Scots Magazine" 2 (March 1818): 249-253. . . .these volumes have neither principle, object, nor moral; the horror which abounds in them is too grotesque and bizarre ever to approach near the sublime . . .yet we suspect, that the diseased and wandering imagination, which has stepped out of all
legitimate bounds, to frame these disjointed combinations and unnatural adventures, might be
disciplined into something better. …The writer of it is, we understand, a female; … but if our authoress can forget
the gentleness of her sex, it is no reason why we should; and we shall therefore dismiss the
novel without further comment.
The British Critic n.s.,9 (April 1818) 432-438. But when we have thus admitted that Frankenstein has passages which appal the mind and make the flesh creep, we have given it all the praise (if praise it can be called) which we dare to bestow. Our taste and our judgment alike revolt at this kind of writing, and the greater the ability with which it may be executed the worse it is—it inculcates no lesson of conduct, manners, or morality; it cannot mend, and will not even amuse its readers, unless their taste have been deplorably vitiated—it fatigues the feelings without interesting the understanding..
The Quarterly Review, 18 (January 1818): 379-385 In the class of fictitious narrations to which we allude, the author opens a sort of account-current with the reader; drawing upon him, in the first place, for credit to that degree of the marvellous which he proposes to employ; and becoming virtually bound, in consequence of this indulgence, that his personages shall conduct themselves, in the extraordinary circumstances in which they are placed, according to the rules of probability, and the nature of the human heart. In this view, the probable is far from being laid out of sight even amid the wildest freaks of imagination; on the contrary, we grant the extraordinary postulates which the author demands as the foundation of his narrative, only on condition of his deducing the consequences with logical precision … Frankenstein “inculcates no lesson of conduct, manners or morality….it fatigues the feelings without interesting the understanding; it gratuitously harasses the heart and only adds to the store, already too great, of painful sensation….
The reader is left after a struggle between laughter and loathing, in doubt whether the head or the heart of the author is the most diseased”.
Quarterly Review: Contemporary audience of the 20th century. Blade Runner attracted die-hard fans of the science fiction genre, but even then, initially received polarized reviews from film critics, some who were confused and disappointed by the complex and disconnected sequence of events and characters. The film was seen as overly negative, this being added by the downbeat ending, and film studios demanded a voice-over in a film noir style. Viewers and reviewers failed to see the content presented in the movie as important or as a representation of societal issues. It was after 20 years when the Director’s cut was released that audiences began to appreciate the issues illustrated.Its success in the home viewing market also helped establish Blade Runner as a science fiction cult film that was embraced by Cyberpunk, a 1980s literary analogue of hard-rock. Furthermore, it has now gained the status of a cult classic and a dedicated following. "the most riveting–and depressing–vision of the near-future since ''A Clockwork Orange":
Variety “We’re in a movie business where most movies are disposable commodities. They’re the summer blockbuster. I’m not going to name what they are, but they come and go in weeks and, bye bye. Nobody wants to resurrect them. Nobody wants to see them again. So the ones that are really truly well made – the kind of Casablancas of science fiction – survive, and get seen over and over.”
Douglas Trumbull- special effects superviser "Blade Runner considers what it will mean morally, technologically and politically" to live in a future in which genetic engineering and computer science have created "new kinds of people or intelligences, entities physically and emotionally different from historic humanity but who are arguably entitled to be considered persons."
Judith Kerman, Retrofitting Blade Runner Frankenstein Blade Runner Postmodernism 1870s- 20th century Critique of the "modernist" scientific mentality of objectivity and progress associated with the Enlightenment.
-Apparent realities are only social constructs, as they are subject to change inherent to time and place- in other words, there is no absolute truth, but subjective truth, such as feelings, experiences, stories and intuition.
- It emphasizes the role of language, power relations, and motivations; in particular it attacks the use of sharp classifications such as male versus female, straight versus gay, white versus black, and imperial versus colonial.
-holds realities to be plural and relative, and dependent on who the interested parties are and what their interests consist in. Social The historical context to the nineteenth century, as a time of considerable political and social upheaval. Important factors include:
- First the American Civil War then the French Revolution, and its effect on notions of class and identity, brought ideas of popular freedom, of the power of the proletariat and of the right to equality;
- Darwinism and his effect on religious thought; evolution theories- challenged accepted ideas of creation by God.
- the Industrial Revolution, with its ambivalence towards technology as both exciting and dangerous, and its profound effect on social class with the possibility for acquired rather than inherited wealth;
- Colonialism, and the British Empire's expanding wealth and influence; For women:
- rise of feminism
- life was about many obligations and few choices-some even compare the treatment of women at this time as a form of slavery
- belonged to her husband-typical marriage vows had the woman promise to obey her husband, with the man exempt from saying so.
- Divorce not permitted for women by law, if a woman attempted to flee an unhappy marriage, she could be captured by the law and punished.
- Strictly divided into classes: upper-working class, lower-working class, underclass Also a time of considerable political conflict.
Mid 1960s was the height of the Vietnam War, the Cold war (between the USA and the former Soviet Union, and their respective allies.)
1940s and early 1950s, when rapid technological advances after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki led to the chilliest era of the Cold War.
A real fear of a nuclear holocaust and a proliferation of anti-nuclear groups
Uneasiness about the possibility of a Third World War.
The dawn of Reaganism, viewed by many as cruel politics- ‘Star Wars’ program in which nuclear weapons were to be deployed from space to strategic targets in the USSR.
the rise of Asian involvement with Western nations
Increasing concerns about the environment.
Socially it was a time that saw the rise of feminism, Black Rights, Grey Power, and Gay Power, leading in general to a change of social attitudes towards marginalized groups.
The media became more and more powerful. For women:
- The rights of women acknowledged, gender equality
- Equal opportunities
- Women enter the corporate world (before, only a few were involved)
- The omission of the “obey my husband” from marriage vows-more freedom
- The right to file for a divorce without being discriminated for it.
- Harassment of women at work still existent, but greatly reduced environmental In the early 1800s, worldwide there were moves to declare national park areas so that all could enjoy the wilderness.
This was very much in keeping with Romantic concepts about the power of nature to furnish the senses.
a sense that nature was replenishable.
Nature was referred to as Mother Nature, in acknowledgement of the nurturing nature of the
landscape. Discussions on nature used the female pronoun “she” and “her” so the personification of nature was reinforced. Greater consciousness of the vulnerability of nature in the twentieth century.
In 1964 the status of national parks was assured in America through the Wilderness Act which paradoxically also drew attention to the existence of destructive forces of development,
pollution, corporate misuse and other environmental enemies.
Widespread activism against: land clearing, damming, water pollution, nuclear disaster and in defence of
endangered species, as well as other perceived environmental threats.
In 1986 there was a
nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, and in 1989 the Exxon Valdez disaster reminded the world of the fragility of the environment and its vulnerability against human error. Science and Technology Science was influenced by philosophical doctrines, which questioned the nature of the principle of life, and the probability of its ever being discovered and communicated
Controversial theories- Erasmus Darwin (theories of evolution- of man having evolved over millions of years), Luigi Galvani (use of electricity to stimulate dead matter into life) and Humphrey Davey (generation of life from combinations of dead matter)
The first plastic surgery procedure in 1814. IVF – in vitro fertilisation,
genetic research and DNA
stem cell research.
Transplants of human organs became accepted though the implications of selling these has become an ethical minefield.
There were constant scientific predictions of the destruction of the world and also a search in the skies for other worlds.
Developments in the field of robotics- creation of machines that could take over the manual tasks performed by humans
Computer explosion- development of computers for everything, this has been called the Age of Silicon
Space travel full blown.
Development of tracking systems-GPS, etc.
It was realized that the dangers of technology outweighed its merits. The continued threat of nuclear annihilation and the brutality of the war technologies employed in Vietnam strengthened the arguments of those who maintained that rather than advance progress, science and technology retarded human improvement. Galvani evolution galvani's experiments test- tube babies in vitro fertilisation widespead technology-global age of silicon economic great divide between the rich and the poor
-boosted through the development of machinery (mentioned in the social context)
trade increase as output of manufactured goods increased The 19th century was the age of machine tools - tools that made tools - machines that made parts for other machines, including interchangeable parts. The assembly line was invented during the 19th century, speeding up the factory production of consumer goods.
saw the rise of the Industrial Revolution which boosted the economy but did litle for the people working in the industries industrial revolution Reagan-inspired tax cuts served mainly to benefit wealthier Americans, and making the poor even poorer, widening the class gap.
- Global corporations became strong influences on an economy but also exploited third world countries.
- phenomena of economic rationalism and globalization, (often seen as American corporate imperialism)
-Advertising takes over- consumerism increases.
-birth of the theory that: time=money=consumer goods=happiness/ ‘real’ life Percy Bysshe Shelley genre "Blade crawler"
Sheila Benson, Los Angeles Times "I have been assured that my problems in the past with Blade Runner represent a failure of my own taste and imagination, but if the film was perfect, why has Sir Ridley continued to tinker with it?"
Roger Ebert The Gothic genre Science fiction using the futuristic setting, Scott follows the convention of science fiction works through his depiction of Los Angeles in 2019, painting a picture of what the current events such as globalisation can lead to.
Scott introduces new technology in his depiction of the replicants, bioengineered machine-people. This is a development that has not been yet realised, although it alludes to the contextual development in robotics and genetic engineering. The film portrays a dystopia set in the future, caused by the mis-utilization of technology. The world he portrays is claustrophobic and oppressive, suggesting the decline of the human race. It also explores popular societal or cultural issues through a sci-fi setting, portraying a world destroyed by overuse; a world in which corporations control everything; a world in which genetic experimentation has gone terribly awry. Film noir The novel however also draws on the inclusion of science, and so it has been labelled by some as the birth of science fiction because it keeps with such conventions such as the mad scientist, the ‘other’ etc. the novel is mainly dominated by the gothic genre, expressed by its use of conventions such as desolate or remote settings and macabre, mysterious or violent incidents. At a deeper level, it explores social values, prescriptions and proscriptions, concern with good and evil, and questions regarding the boundaries between what is human, monstrous, natural, unnatural, supernatural and divine. It also tackles the idea of what being 'human' really means Detective, film noir
-refers to a type of narrative usually set in some gloomy urban environment, and characterised by numerous night scenes, darkened rooms, alleys, rainy streets, foggy docks, etc.
The word noir is a reference to the visual style of such films- an emphasis on darkness. Characteristics include a dark outlook on life, a cynical, world-weary view of human experience. The darkness and rain connote a type of psychic and moral wasteland.
However, unlike film noir, the Director’s cut does not use a voice-over; it was dropped because the audience saw it as confusing both texts use the science fiction genre as their backbone.
both offer forecasts of doom if mankind attains God'-like status- the ability to create life
the dehumanisation thatfollows once humanity has become subservient to technology and scientific advances
the desire to create life in both texts neccesitates the testing of technological barriers- how far is too far?? Themes and Ideas Prometheus The reference to Prometheus in the subtitle refers to the classical Titan ‘over-reacher’ of Greek mythology, severely punished for overstepping limits and boundaries. In stealing fire from the mountain of the gods, he assumed the role of God to man. Shelley’s promethean scientist, Victor, has idealistic motives, “I ardently desire the acquisition of knowledge” (34), but his aspirations challenge the natural order as he transgresses over forbidden territory. . Shelley’s ideas are influenced by the Romantic milieu where the individual creative process is supposed to be a positive thing – in this case it exceeds limits and challenges the Divine. His actions are not coached in connotations of courage or heroism but recognised as reckless and without any thought to the possible consequences. This gives way to the notion of man playing God, and using science as the medium through which he fulfils his purpose. Victor creates a man from body parts obtained from “damps of the grave” (55) and “charnel-houses” (56). ” Eldon Tyrell, the inventor of Replicants and head of Tyrell Corp’, exemplifies the changing place of the scientist in society; from the passionate man in pursuit of knowledge, to the businessman in pursuit of profit, which Scott depicts in a line of dialogue “commerce; is our goal here at Tyrell. More human than human is our motto. ”This quote also reflects the changes in the perspective of science towards the creation of life historically. In the time of Shelley and the galvanic experiments, the emphasis of scientists was on restoring life to the deceased. By Scott’s time the emphasis was on the actual creation of new-life; the DNA molecule had been discovered, the first child had been born via in vitro fertilisation and the US Supreme Court had ruled that genetic codes could be patented, Tyrell symbolises this change. This exploration of creation appears the same on the surface of each text. However, the different contexts of the texts, the difference between creating life, or simply cheating death, present how society’s perception of the scientist, and their value to society, has changed. They were once men with a ‘thirst for knowledge,’ but are now elitist capitalist businessmen. Science is now not only seen as an individual enterprise, such as in ‘Frankenstein’, but a corporate operation. This symbolises and represents how science has come to be acceptable, regardless of trying to over-reach human capabilities.
As compared to Shelley’s society where scientific knowledge was paid little regard, and was a fledgling enterprise-benefiting no-one, science and the position of the scientist in today’s world is revered, since our world has become totally dependent on science for everything conceivable to the mind. This represents changing values and perspectives as people ignore the potentially deadly consequences of science and continue to rely on it. Monstrosity the gothic theme of monstrosity can be found in the novel, epitomising the depths of despair suffered by those considered outsiders from humanity. Shelley's depiction of monstrosity evokes sympathy in the audience for the monster, the creation, rather than the creator; questionings of who actually is the real monster (whether it be the creature, or Frankenstein himself) arise. The creature is alienated bacause of his physical monstrosity, first by his own creator, who shows "disgust" and "abhorrence", and then by the society. As the monster questions, 'Was I then a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled, and whom all men disowned?", strong hatred is kindled in the monster's heart against the creator that flees him, "I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend." here, he show his love of life, regardless of how miserable it is.
on the other hand, Frankenstein subjects himself to alienation from other human beings during the time that he makes the creature. Victor appears outwardly decent and honourable but he is portrayed as someone whose ill-considered 'murderous machinations' have led to the death of his closest family and friends. Victor's lack of foresight therefore and his ambition dehumanises him, settimg up a parallel between him and the creature, casting him as the real monster because of his lack of empathy toward his creature. In Blade Runner, the alienated replicants also feel rejected by society, not because of physical monstrosity- they are perfect, even more perfect than the humans that created them. this blurs the line betwwen the humans and the manufactured as the manufactured seem to want more life than the humans, shown through Roy Batty's words, "I want more life. . .". This resonates with Shelley's monster, and helps give monster-like qualities to the humans, and human qualities to the monsters. Further empathy is drawn by Deckard's realisation that he is a replicant (there are mixed views about this). the audience are challenged to determine where monstrosity lies, in the creator or the creation. Frankenstein further demonstrates the Romantic Movement’s influence on Shelley’s mindset, as her criticisms of the Age of Reason and Industrial Revolution reflect their denigration of rationality and the effect it has on humanity. The imagery of the “dead corpse” and repetitious use of “horror” upon the creation of the “miserable monster” establish a strong aura of death and despair around this scientific advancement and the vilification of humanity. Moreover, Shelley stresses her warning through the protagonists’ connections with nature, where Victor’s “insensibility to its charms”, arising from his immersion in science, results in his “deep, dark and deathlike solitude”, with the heavy alliteration exemplifying his degraded sense of humanity. His self-alienation from humanity while trying to create “humanity” also points out the dehumanizing effects of his scientific enterprise. Victor fails to show humanity, better expressed in empathy, in the mistreatment of the monster as he says, “Breathless horror and disgust filled my heart”. He is meant to feel empathy towards the monster as an indication of his humanity, but fails, indicating the dangers of scientific progress to the human race. Humanity Conversely, the monster possesses greater “benevolence” and a more intimate connection with “the pleasant showers and genial warmth of spring”, with such characterization capturing Shelley’s reflection of Romanticism’s idolization of nature, cautioning us against the dehumanizing effect of unrestrained scientific advancement. The lack of acceptance that Victor displays provokes the monster to anger and revenge as he kills everyone close to Victor. Despite his criminal acts, the monster's self-consciousness and his ability to educate himself raise the question of what it means to be human. Humanity is shown through the monster, I shall no longer see the sun or stars, or feel the winds play on my cheeks.….The light of that conflagration will fade away; my ashes will be swept into the sea by the winds” His heightened sense of humanity is seen here, as he expresses a love for life. The monster ultimately appears to be more human than Victor in his plea for understanding from Frankenstein: "Believe me, Frankenstein: . . . my soul glowed with love and humanity” the display of human emotion by the monster shows how he is more human than his creator. The creation of Shelley’s monster represents the context in which she wrote in, with much emphasis on the Romanticist notions of the importance of self-expression and individual feeling as well as interest in and concern for the outcasts of society: tramps, beggars, obsessive characters and the poor and disregarded. Scott’s reflection of the explosion of technological progress during the 1980’s, including the rise of computing giants IBM and Microsoft, highlighting the dangers of such unrestrained progress. Most notable is the opening panoramic shot of blazing smokestacks which, together with the haunting synthetic pulses of the Vangelis soundtrack, establishes a festering miasma of technological overload, adding further semiotic weight to the film’s nightmarish dystopian agenda. in such a setting, it becomes hard to imagine that the humans there, if any, still possess any humanity. In the film Blade runner ,humanity is the main theme as we see how the different characters undergo a spiritual change which leads to the question ‘What is human?’ in the film, the main attributes of being human are showing emotion, like empathy, hate, love, anger. The replicants have been created with no emotion and a failsafe life span of four years, but it seems that they display more humanity than the actual humans in the film, who characters evince no emotion, they are cold and calculating, and deliberately eschew relationships.
the replicant Roy’s emotionalism is juxtaposed with the human Deckard’s apathetic and stereotypically film-noir attitude. Early in the film, by focusing on Deckard as the central character, his humanity is juxtaposed against the monstrosity of Roy’s actions, but this is to be reversed. As a blade runner, Deckard does not kill, but ‘retires’ Replicants for a living, viewing them as sub-human, “Replicants are like any other machine, they’re either a benefit or a hazard.” This apathy is highlighted late in the film by his killings of, Pris and Zhora; their very human survival instincts are contrasted by his unemotional response to their obvious agony. Roy murders Tyrell brutally during the film, but unlike Deckard, and more like Frankenstein’s monster, Roy kills out of passion; a monstrous act, but still emotional and human. Dualistically both are killers, but contextually, Deckard’s apathetic and mechanical killing is akin to the twentieth century’s inhumane crimes against humanity, but Roy’s crimes of revolutionary passion, are crimes of humanity.
The replicant’s humanity is shown in the last scenes of the film as Roy rescues Deckard from certain death and pierces his hand with a nail, alluding to Jesus’ pierced hand, as casting him in a saintly light. His last words “I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion . . .All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain. Time to die.”, show how, humanity has evolved in the replicants The hunted becomes the saviour of the hunted, and this indicates a reversal of roles-the humanity in the replicants and the dehumanised state of the human being. The dove that is released upon Batty’s death is used by Scott to communicate to the audience the answer to the question of the film: What does it mean to be human? The dove shows how Batty’s soul is set free upon his death, showing that replicants do, in fact, possess humanity and that the soul/humanity is what defines us as human beings through the depiction of humanity in both texts, both composers suggest that engaging in acivities that advance technology and science without consideration for the consequences will lead to a lack of connection with others and this is ultimately detrimental to the percceptionof humanity.They also question our definition of humanity, and imply that scientific advances will eventually erode humanityif unchecked. worldspace: the natural and the unnatural In Frankenstein, the sublime transcends romanticism and the traditions of Gothic literature. Shelley’s vivid descriptions of the natural landscape convey a romantic appreciation of the beauty of nature, but they are mingled with a sense of Gothic terror. While the natural landscape is presented as a place of tranquillity and beauty, it is also amidst this natural beauty that Frankenstein’s monster confronts him and commits some of his atrocities. Blade Runner, in stark contrast, positions the viewer from the very opening sequence of the film within a hauntingly mechanized and non-natural future—the hellish worldspace of Los Angeles in the year 2019. An example of the sublime is Mont Blanc. In Frankenstein, Victor reaches the village of Chamonix and later wanders the valley below Mont Blanc, and states that these “sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving.” He elaborates further, saying: “They congregated round me; the unstained snowy mountain-top, the glittering pinnacle, the pine woods, and ragged bare ravine; the eagle soaring amidst the clouds—they all
gathered round me, and bade me be at peace” the characters relate their experiences through nature, symbolising the profound effect of the sublime on the characters and on their actions. Unlike Mont Blanc, and the valley below it, the Tyrell Corporation does not exhibit the illusive, indefinable beauty of sublime Nature, but rather embodies a synthetic artificiality—it is a structure which is both mathematically and mechanically defined because it is, like almost everything else in Blade Runner, a manmade creation.
Another technique used by Scott to depict the depreciation of nature is the absence of natural animals, which have been replaced by the artificial manufactured animals. the composers use landscape to create a conttrast between the positives of nature and the negative results of the marginalization of nature. Shelley heralds the beauty of nature, strongly representing her context- a great reverence was attached to nature, with nature bearing the pronoun'she', personifying and showing its importance to the 19th century populace.on the other hand, Scott's depiction of nature illustrates a nihilistic, bleak place where nature has no place, and this highlights the fears that were prevalent during this time- threat of the destroyal of nature by scientific and economic enterprise. A change in values can be seen through the treatment of nature-in Frankenstein, nature defines the individual , whereas Blade Runner has taken after its times and depicts nauture as unimportant, but still definitive of the human and societal state. In both texts therefor, an inability to recognize nature's rightful place equates with the lack of humanity and the dangers of technological progress. women and the female principle Women in Shelley's time were marginalized, largely unrecognized and oppressed. Her portrayal of the women in her novel simply mirrors the societal views of women in her context. The typical woman, shown through the character of Elizabeth, is described as benevolent, gentle, caring,possesing many excellent virtues, "if i see but one smile on your lips when we meet. . . i shall need no other happiness". She is seen as the subservient female, docile- excellently portraying the 19th century woman-'life was about many obligations and few choices-some even compare the treatment of women at this time as a form of slavery'. The ambition portrayed in the novel shows not only pure ambition, but also a specific kind of masculine ambition in the point of view of a nineteenth-century woman offering a feminist critique of history.
Despite the low role of women, women were still seen as important in the continuationof the human race, and through the creation of the monster by artificial means, the role of women is usurped and disregarded. The natural position of women is intefered with by science, marking their contribution to life as superficial. The absence of chidren- the only child William, dies, is a sure sign of the loss of hope in humanity On the other hand, in Blade Runner, the role of women in the society has become non-existent. This sets up a paradox between the depiction of women and their actual position in Scott's societal context. In the 20th century, women were gaining more rights, and equal opportunities in the corporate world, as well as the continuation of the feminist movement. In the film, they have been eleminated from the creative proccess , their role is disregarded as they are replaced by technology-genetic engineering, and they are seen as mere objects , for example Pris is a"leisure model".
the absence of chidren, just like in Frankenstein, symbolises the decline of the human race and the extinction of hope. despite differing contexts and values, both Shelley and Scott seem to suggest that the removal of the role of women in the creation of life, especially when they are being replaced by technological and scientific means, will mark the decline of the human race. Through the death of all three of Shelley's female characters (Elizabeth, Justine, Caroline), and the death of Scott's female characters( Pris, Zhora), save one, Rachael, (whose future is uncertain, being a replicant), both composers show that the fututre without the presence of women is bleak, with long term consequences. techniques
F Intertextuality – Milton’s Paradise Lost – ‘Did I ask thee Maker from my clay/To mould Me man? Did I solicit thee/From darkness to promote me’ - the opening quotation from Milton’s Paradise Lost refers to Adam addressing his God.
Has the effect of informing the reader of the true purpose of the text, showing the relationship between creator and creation and how human beings must take both credit and responsibility for their scientific accomplishments. Religious Allegory – Christianity – ‘I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed’. By drawing links between himself and both Adam and the fallen angels, the Creature expresses one of the main themes of the novel – the disaster that will occur when Man treads into God’s domain and attempts to assume his role as giver of life. The creature states to Victor ‘Do your duty towards me and I will do mine towards you...I am thy creature, and I will be even mild and docile to my natural Lord and king if thou wilt also perform thy part’, showing the allegory of Frankenstein as God and the Creature as humanity. This is furthered by the quotation ‘I found myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter’. •Imagery – Regret – ‘polluted by crimes and torn by the bitterest remorse where can I find rest but in death?’ Victor’s neglect of his responsibility for his creation has lead to the suffering and misery of the creature. His words express his pain and neglect which creates an emotional response of sympathy and sadness in the audience. This makes the audience consider the validity of scientific investigation and experimentation.
•Imagery – Light/Dark - “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world” The imagery in this passage show’s how Shelley believed that scientists of the time believed there to be no ethical or moral boundaries on discovery, that science was the new frontier. • Multiple First Person Narrative Voices + Narrative Structure – Shelley has used many voices so that the reader may draw their own perspectives from the events and apply the principals within the stories to their own world and morals. Each speaker is a voice, but not the voice. The story within a story style of the narrative also allows the most important aspect of the story – the creations – to stand at the centre of the novel. techniques
BR Biblical Allusions + Christian Allegory – (God, Christ, the Prodigal Son + Fallen Angels)
Scott uses symbols, costuming and mis-en-scene to give Tyrell a god-like quality. He lives in a pyramid (separated from the dusty streets of the underworld), wears white robes (a symbol of purity) and has numerous candles scattered throughout his apartment (an allusion to the papal rooms). Before he is killed by Batty they share a kiss reminiscent of the kiss Judas and Jesus shared after Judas betrayed Christ to the Romans Batty is the son who returns to his home land to his ‘father’. He mimics the execution of Christ by driving a nail through his hand (and anointing himself with Pris’s blood), which enables the actions that save Deckard’s life. He is seen with a halo behind him, created by lighting, a symbol of his holy status. He states ‘fiery the angels fell...’ a misquote of Blake who wrote ‘Fiery the angels rose...’ in America: A Prophecy, predicting his own fall from grace through killing his creator
The replicants are similar to the fallen angels, in that they come from the sky, Symbolism and Tone of Voice –
Rachel and Deckard Meet – the links drawn between Rachel and the owl using lingering camera shots and extreme close-ups of their eyes are obvious. By becoming informed that the owl is artificial, we come to assume that Rachel is the same due to the link between them. This gives way to the notion that they are property (things to be bought and sold). Deckard’s innuendo upon the statement of ‘Must be expensive’ and her reply ‘Very’ is showing Scott’s suggestions for the future of humanity – women are still taken advantage of in a patriarchal context (a failure of society) and such humanity does not seem to develop despite vast technological achievement. Motif – Eyes –
The second shot of the film shows an extreme close up of a blue eye, reflecting the cityscape. This shot emphasises the importance of eyesight throughout the film. It is believed the eye belongs to Batty, demonstrating his ability (even as an artificial construct) to see clearly the destruction of humanity. He comments to the eye-specialist Chew ‘if only you could see what I’ve seen with your eyes!’ The Voigt-Kampff is the only means of differentiating replicants from humans and measures the empathetic response to questions according to the eye. The eye motif serves as a visual metaphor for deciding who is human. By using eyes, we get the sense of being watched, instilling a sense of pervading paranoia. Tyrell wears thick glasses, a symbol of his lack of foresight and inability to see clearly. When Batty kills Tyrell, he crushes his eyes – removing the eyes that saw this vision for Replicants Camera Angles –
Throughout the film, in scenes where Deckard and the replicants are both featured, Deckard is viewed from below (placing him in a position of power), while the replicants are viewed from above (showing them to be vulnerable). This changes in the concluding scene, in which Batty is placed in the position of power, and finally both are seen in even, level shots, showing how they are equal in status (and humanity). Contrast and Music– Zhora’s Death –
The juxtaposition of the shop mannequins with Zhora (who are both ‘artificial’ humans) is placed by Scott to show how Zhora does possess human qualities. Vangelis’s haunting music, created through long, high pitched notes, coupled with the heartbeat is used to induce sympathy for Zhora and highlight her possession of human qualities (her heartbeat ceases when she dies). Natural aspects of this scene include Zhora’s fight for survival, her heartbeat and the snow used in the shopwindow upon her death. The environment of the city is completely artificial, an element that highlights how natural the replicants really are in comparison to other aspects of the modern lifestyle that are considered to be ‘artificial’. The two texts Frankenstein and Blade Runner may be divided by nearly 200 years, be conveyed in different forms and develop their ideas in very different settings but the
distinct similarities between them show that, although commenting on universal ideas, attitudes and values, they are still texts that are products of their times, that capture the discourses of the historical, social and political contexts in which each emerges. the E.N.D