Texts In Time Frankenstein Blade Runner Essay

Frankenstein/Blade Runner Comparative Essay

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While all texts originate from the imagination of their composer, they also explore and address the issues of their contexts. This is clearly the case with Mary Shelley’s gothic novel Frankenstein (1818) which draws upon galvanism and the industrial movement and Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner (1992) which has been heavily influenced by Thatcherism and Reagonomics. Despite there being over 150 years between their compositions both these texts explore several common themes such as mankind’s loss of humanity and man attempting to play God.

Through the exploration of these common thematic concerns and the universal depiction of protagonists and societies obsessed with the Machiavellian pursuit of science and technology, these texts build upon each other’s warnings to humanity and ultimately become linked through time. The common thematic concerns of these texts are explored through the use of camera angles, imagery and metaphors.

A central theme shared by Frankenstein and Blade Runner is the dangers of unrestrained scientific progress, a theme most evident when Frankenstein bestows the “spark of life” upon his creature in his effort to “pour a torrent of light into our dark world”. Here Shelley alludes to the science of Galvanism which held the belief that bodies could be resurrected through an electrical current, or “spark”. This compliments Shelley’s later allusion, “a thing such not even Dante could have conceived” which alludes to Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, a poem recounting a man’s journey through hell.

These allusions work hand in hand to parallel unrestrained scientific advancements with pain and suffering equivalent to journeying through hell, as well as communicating Shelley’s warning to the reader of the hellish ramifications that are inevitable if man continues to explore science in such a reckless manner. Blade Runner further enforces the dangers of unrestrained scientific progress and builds upon Shelley’s warning through the opening panoramic shot which portrays a decaying city dominated by industrial buildings.

This works in conjunction with the recurring motif of artificial neon lighting and eerie non-digetic sounds to create a cold dark ambience which is symbolic of the lack of warmth, affection and family which has been created by unrestrained scientific progress. This ironic depiction of the Los Angeles, this city of angels, as a hell on earth is reflective of the 1986 Chernobyl Disaster where unrestrained scientific progress directly lead to death and sever mutation of millions of people. Blade Runner and

Frankenstein also comment on mankind’s loss of humanity, a theme Shelley depicts when the creature is able to display basic human instincts as it relates to “the pleasant showers and genial warmth” of nature as it ventures through the wilderness. In contrast Victor shows “insensibility to (natures) charms” while creating the creature by containing himself in a “deep dark deathlike solitude”, this alliteration is metaphoric of Victor’s inability to relate to nature and display basic human qualities which the supposed sub-human creature can.

This comparison shows that Victor, a symbol of humanity, has lost a basic human instinct which considered inseparable from the human experience in Shelley’s era due to the influence of the romantics, yet the supposed sub-human possesses this instinct, metaphoric of mankind’s loss of humanity. Moreover, this comparison is symbolic of Shelley questioning the reader and challenging them to change their values as well as warning against the Machiavellian pursuit of science and technology.

Scott reinforces mankind’s loss of humanity through the fruition of the Tyrell Corporations motto “more human than human” which can be seen in Pris wearing a bridal gown while hiding from Deckard, which is metaphoric of the replicants ability to feel emotions of love and familial belonging, a basic human instinct which the humans of this world are unable to feel, evidenced in J. F Sebastian’s ironic dialogue “I make friends, they’re toys, my friends are toys”.

Sebastian’s dialogue shows that humans no longer have real families and have lost the ability to develop relationships; where as Roy’s howl of pain at the death of Pris is symbolic of the familial bonds and relationships formed between replicants. Not only does this comparison establish the Tyrell Corporation’s motto “more human than human” as a truism but it is symbolic of Scott building upon Shelley’s original depiction mankind’s loss of humanity and reinforcing her warning against the Machiavellian pursuit of science and technology, linking these texts through time.

Moreover, Frankenstein and Blade Runner explore the theme of man attempting to play God which is evoked through allusions to the Promethean myth, as both texts present protagonists who steal the gift of the Gods, in this case life, and are gravely punished for doing so. Shelley evidences this theme through Victor stealing the Gods gift of life, alluding to Prometheus stealing the Gods gift of fire, epitomised in Victors dialogue “A new species would bless me as its creator”. Although heavily influenced by onservative views of the church Shelley present’s death of Frankenstein, a symbol of humanity, at the hands of his own creation which not only alludes to Zeus’ punishment of Prometheus but is metaphoric of Shelley’s warning of the inevitable peril which awaits mankind if he continues to attempt to play God. Heavily influenced by a growing corporate culture which disregarded human rights in the pursuit of “commerce”, Scott also evokes the Promethean myth to illuminate the theme of man attempting to play God.

Like Frankenstein, Tyrell steals the Gods gift of life by creating “more human than humans” replicants, a direct allusion to Prometheus stealing the Gods fire. Scott continues to allude to the Promethean myth through Tyrell’s death at the hands of Roy, his creation. Here Scott not only alludes to Zeus’ punishment of Prometheus but also to the bible by Tyrell claiming Roy to be the “prodigal son” further enforcing the concept of man attempting to play God.

Moreover, the murder of Tyrell by his creation, Roy, alludes to Frankenstein’s death at the hands of his creation, the creature, which is metaphoric of Scott building upon Shelley’s warning against man attempting to play God, further linking these texts through time. Upon close analysis of these texts it becomes apparent that Scott’s Blade Runner is a response to Shelley’s Frankenstein, made clear through the exploration of common themes such as mankind’s loss of humanity, despite being manifestations of contexts separated by 150 years.

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Scott’s tech noir film encapsulates Shelley’s original warning against the Machiavellian pursuit of science and technology and takes into to the next level by presenting it in a post modern context where science and technology have advanced beyond the point of return. Perhaps the definitive underlying message of these texts is that despite the things we create being a reflection of ourselves and our societies, it is ultimately our creations that mould us and who we are, an idea surmised in Winston Churchill’s words “we shape the things we build, thereafter they shape us”. 1139 words

Author: Dave Villacorta

in Frankenstein

Frankenstein/Blade Runner Comparative Essay

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Humanity – Frankenstein vs. Blade Runner

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Both Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner are texts that explore what it is to be human. Many parallels can be drawn between the two texts even though they are set some two hundred years apart. The texts present a view that questions the morality of science that progresses unchecked. Is this what is to become of our society? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is set in the eighteenth century romantic period in Europe, whereas Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is set in the futuristic twenty first century.

In both texts science and technology are explored and human identity is an important concept that is played out to a chilling end. Within Shelley’s novel, Victor Frankenstein plays God to the monster. While creating the creature he believed that what he was creating what was the best for humanity although his ideas began to change when he finally stood back and viewed his work. The viewing of the monster is a moral setback for Victor and he finally understands that “the being whom I had cast among mankind and endowed with the will and power to effect purposes of horror”.

He is morally affected by the creation that he has cast upon society and realises his error of judgement when the creature he has created kills his younger brother. Victor feels responsible and is eventually consumed by this overwhelming sense of guilt and remorse. The creature that Frankenstein creates is an ‘abomination’ so repulsive to look upon as to cause horror. There is irony in this as Victor himself is internally consumed by an ugliness and revulsion, and he has created something that he cannot look at because of its external ugliness. Although on the inside the creature holds more human qualities than his creator.

The movie Blade Runner has parallels with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and is a modern day reproduction of sorts. The Tyrell Corporation creates the replicants (humanoid robots used as slaves), and this is where Tyrell, the head of the company plays God within Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”. He has created the replicants with no remorse or compassion and doesn’t see them as human beings. Much as Victor Frankenstein sees the creature. “She is an experiment nothing more. ”, is how Tyrell refers to Rachel, a replicant who is aware that she is a creation; “I’m not a part of the business… I am the business. during a conversation with Deckard, the protagonist, who is a ‘Blade Runner’ chosen to retire renegade replicants. The replicants within Blade Runner are beautiful and are considered perfect; within society no one would know who was a replicant and who wasn’t. They are as much human as the humans within the futuristic Los Angeles. There are subtle references to biblical themes in texts. Tyrell has created life in his own image, how he wanted them to be like, just like Victor did when he was creating the creature and how God did when he was forming Adam and Eve.

Until the creations begin to want in both texts, they question life and begin to gain more power and strength. You can’t have control over what you create because they have wants and needs of their own. The makers in both the texts lose control of their creations and this represents that man shouldn’t play god when they are unsure of the consequences. The setting of the ‘monster meeting maker’ scene is a comparison between the texts that the elevation of both meeting places in terms of maker and creation shows that closer to heaven link, and then the descent back to reality.

The scene on Mount Blanc within Frankenstein is where the mountain metaphor is determined. This parallels the scene within “Blade Runner” where as the camera guides us towards the ziggurat pyramid of the Tyrell Corporation in which houses the creator of the replicants; Tyrell. His connection to the heavens is further demonstrated through his ability to view the sun from his office, compared to the derelict cityscape, where the sun is totally blocked from view at all times. The scenes within the texts have a constant shifting of power balance.

Within Frankenstein, the shifting power balance between Victor and his creation is evident. The creation has come to tell his side of the story, whereas Victor doesn’t care and uses anger to become powerful over the creature. Comparing to Blade Runner, Roy sits as Tyrell glories in his creation; however, Roy despises his maker for what he has done and ironically seals his fate with a kiss. “Look at you the Prodigal Son… ” Both makers are ultimately destroyed by their creations. It references a new start for humanity as those who cross the line are sacrificed so humanity can learn a lesson.

Both Mary Shelley and Ridley Scott have created confusion among the audience by exploring the humanity within the societies. The audience begin to question who the ‘real’ monster is and who has the most humanity within the story. Within Shelley’s novel, the creature displays more humanity than Victor when he begs for another creation to be made. “Oh! My creator, make me happy; let me feel gratitude towards you for one benefit! ” We first question Victor’s humanity when he ruins the second creature he has made. …I almost felt as if I had mangled the living flesh of a human being. ” Also when Walton finds the creature crying over Victor and we question why? He killed Victor’s family and Victor died because of the guilt of the creature. Victor was the modern Prometheus and was punished throughout his life with guilt and torture. This allows us to link the theme of what it means to be human and causes us to question our own humanity and morality. Scott’s text uses different language techniques to raise the question about what it means to be human and who are the most humane?

The humans within the film are referred to by their second names whilst the replicants are referred to by their Christian name, representative of the relationship between a servant and their master. Throughout the film the replicants show more emotions and human qualities than the humans themselves. When Pris is killed, Roy shows that he loves her by crying and kissing her when he discovers her body and shows anger towards Deckard for killing Pris and Zhora when he breaks his fingers. “This is for Zhora…This is for Pris” If they were not humans how could they have fallen in love?

Could it be that they have become more human than the humans themselves, who are so ready to kill the replicants and ruin their lives? The replicants have more compassion than the humans, the same for the creature who cries over his dead creator. The ‘monsters’ act like humans; the humans act like monsters. The question of humanity is a large theme within the texts and this runs very closely to the themes and ideas of playing god that are expressed in the texts. There are many small links to God; just like God, within

Frankenstein, Victor was the only one who knew how he could create life, just like god did when he was creating Adam and Eve, “Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam”. He didn’t share his secret with anyone. In “Scott’s film, Roy has a nail through this hand when he is fighting with Deckard at the ending of the film. This represents Jesus dying on the cross. The ‘gods’ created a creature they believed would be perfect but just like Adam and Eve, the creature and the replicants were not perfect and went against their creators.

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The Gods have lost ‘control’. The God complex is evident as it is man’s desire to create life, although it is the creatures desire to become human. Although Shelley and Scott’s texts are set in strikingly different landscapes and several centuries apart they are both questioning the role of creator and man’s right to this role. The societies they both represent are separated by a vast expanse of time but are they so dissimilar? They show the failings of humanity and also the moral dilemma, which is caused by delving into God’s power of creation.

Author: Dave Villacorta

in Frankenstein

Humanity – Frankenstein vs. Blade Runner

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