Blade Runner and Frankenstein
All texts are a gateway to the prevailing ideas and contextual values of the composer??™s time. Mary Shelley??™s Gothic novel Frankenstein explores the dangers of uncontrolled scientific venture and the blurring definition of what it means to be human through the defining in relation to ???the other??™ and the monster. Sharing in these ideas, Ridley Scott??™s Sci-Fi cult film Blade Runner is a replica of the same moral teachings offering further understanding to the responder of the dynamic and illuminating purpose of both composers. Humanity??™s disruption from itself as it strives for the summit in scientific and technological advancement is the unified argument of Shelley and Scott. Furthermore, the primary textual features and similarities in construction are utilised by the composers to evaluate values of scientific rationalism and consumerism that continue to echo in meaning with modern audiences.
A heightened understanding of Shelley??™s personal context and her account of looming events is revealed in the timeless present setting of Frankenstein similar to Scott??™s not too distant futuristic setting of Blade Runner. Shelley attacks an imminent danger of Male-controlled science revealing the influence of her feminist author mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, whereas, Scott explores a consumeristic Science that reflects Reagan??™s political and economic era.? Scott??™s prophetic warning of future events is demonstrated in his dystopian futuristic setting in the permanent neon haze of Los Angeles 2019. The saturated scenery, futuristically fashioned with advanced technological gadgets and the clash of cultures further adds to the authenticity of the urban setting. The environmental degradation of the nature stripped world of Blade Runner juxtaposes the awe-inspiring sublime of nature present in Shelley??™s conventionally Gothic setting and natural imagery. Thus, Scott??™s choice of using the medium of film demonstrates the immediacy of humanity??™s dislocation from itself and its pleasant relationship with nature as he strives to convey his message to a wider mainstream audience.
Both composers, to demonstrate the realism of the dangers of unconstrained scientific exploration, evoke a comparable sense of plausibility in the responder. Shelley fabricates plausibility through the contextual allusion to Galvanism, that is the Eighteenth Century discovery of electricity. Shelley did not reject the scientific advancement and rationalism of the ???Age of Enlightenment??™ and ???Industrial Revolution??™ but warned of the evils that could emerge from seizing the role of the ???Creator??™. Frankenstein uses electricity, ???So that I may infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lie at my feet,??? to reanimate the body parts and spark life in the monster. Similarly, Scott??™s familiar bombardment of branding and advertisements in Blade Runner creates an uncanny possibility in a differing approach to Shelley. In effect, Scott links his intention of challenging values of globalisation with that of science, all which threaten to interfere with humanity and its true experience. Thus, the responder is induced with the real threat of scientific vanity to humanity??™s sense of self.
The allusion and intertextual reference to the Promethean myth in Frankenstein and Blade Runner unify the texts in the ethical motive of both composers to warn against the catastrophic consequences of snatching God??™s role in creation. The texts are a re-contextualisation of the indistinguishable ethics, exemplifying the eternal punishment that results from stealing ???fire??™ from the gods and giving this uncontrollable power to mortals. Destructively obsessed with scientific pride, both Titan like egocentric creators – Victor and Tyrell- create life and thus suffer the consequences of their actions through their deaths. The motif of fire appears in both texts as symbolic of the duality of knowledge as possessing a conflicting beneficial and destructive nature. The Chinese box narrative structure encompasses Frankenstein??™s message to Walton, ???Learn from me??¦ at least by example how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge,??? and empowers Shelley to similarly convey the same principle to her audience. The responder attains a heightened understanding of both texts through the unified purpose of both composers to alert humanity??™s detachment from itself.
Humanity and its clouding definition in juxtaposition with the theme of monstrosity is an ontological concern of both composers as humanity becomes disjointed from its true self. The ambiguous characterisation of Deckard in Blade Runner epitomises the duality of man and replicant. Roy Batty taunts, ???Come on Deckard, show me what you are made of,??? alluding to the questioning of Deckard??™s true nature. Scott manipulates the viewer??™s fixed perspective of the supposed human anti-hero protagonist to question the defining qualities of humanity. For to think is to be human and to exist as Descartes ??“ Deckard being a pun on the philosopher ??“ describes in his ???cogito ergo sum??? notion as in the replicant Pris??™ philosophical discourse. The responder??™s questioning of whether Deckard is a replicant, misses Scott??™s true contention and in turn makes the viewer a dehumanised and emotionless Blade Runner thoughtlessly pursuing the ???monster??™. Thus, Scott??™s concern that humanity is being dislocated from itself is evident in the ambiguous characterisation of Deckard.
The characterisation and representation of the common Gothic theme of horror in Frankenstein contrasts with Blade Runner. Shelley characterises her monster in the traditional portrayal of ???the other??? as surreal and with superhuman strength, ???God made man beautiful, in his own image, but my form is a filthy type of yours,??? Thus, a clear separation between human and monster. Conversely, Scott ironically characterises the replicants as ???more human than human.??? The intellectually and physically superior, ???Cause you??™re so different??¦ You??™re perfect!??? Replicants display compassionate emotional responses that contrast them to their dehumanised creators. Therefore, an ???existential anxiety??™ is evoked in the responder with the threat of a ???more human??? mirror image, threatening the responder and humanity??™s sense of self. Both emotional creations demonstrate the human quality of desire, Frankenstein??™s monster demanding a mate and likewise the replicants longevity.
Despite the disparity in time of composure, the comparison of the dynamic texts Blade Runner and Frankenstein and its shared themes of scientific hubris, monstrosity and the blurring definition of humanity make a heightened sense of meaning in the reader; warning of the dangers from the irresponsible advancements in technology and science. Thus, the responder is enlightened with a greater appreciation of the texts joint notion that humanity is alienating itself as it strives through scientific rationalism for the sublime.