A world of flying space ships, illuminating scenery and unusual people. Blade Runner is automatically for me, a Sci Fi film. Music plays as there are flying cars, mainly police cars soaring through the air as flame throwing buildings light up the city night sky. This scene gives us confirmation of the science fiction genre the film holds, based in the future, much like many futuristic films, they conventionally including flying viechles.
I have decided to research the Director Ridley Scott, who appears to have a very well known love for the Sci Fi genre with other films such as Alien and Prometheus under his belt. I am not entirely sure of the meanings behind the film, I found an in depth anaylsis on the religious meaning behind Blade Runner which I surpsingly already sort of noticed during watching the film but I did not elaborate on this, The scene mentioned below, where Batty shoves a nail through his hand, was one of a few scenes that actually inticed me and grabbed my attention, I immediately thought to myself ‘he’s doing something like Jesus’ after not feeling the film much I decided to re read part of the book ‘Looking at movies’ where on the last page of the first chapter ,
Richard Barsam say’s – Be aware that there are many ways to look at movies. Are you primarily interested in interpreting the ways in whih the movie manipulates formal elements such as composition, editing, and sound to tell its story moment to moment, or are you concerned with what the movie has to say in broader cultural terms, such as a political message?’
This made me think twice about the story behind Blade Runner and the meanings secretly inplanted in it. I then researched and found the anaylsis below which confirms I have the thoughts and understanding behind the religious meaning of the film bu I must elaborate on this, so watching Blade Runner taught me that I must never over look something that I notice in a film.
‘Blade Runner is not a pleasant film. Many of its ideas are very frightening, and the visual images are magnificent yet decadent. Director Ridley Scott has a chilling story to tell, and there is a complex web of allegory and meaning lurking in the background. We are seldom certain of the motivations which move these characters, and our protagonist (Deckard, played by Harrison Ford) is not exactly a knight in shining armor. Because of this, it seems that to understand this film we must look past the actions of the characters and focus instead upon the reasons behind what they do. In an attempt to accomplish this, we will focus on one particular element of the film: it’s allegorical relationship to Christianity. This is by no means to imply that this is the only subtext in the movie, or that it is the major force in driving the characters to behave as they do, but it is definitely a structure by which at least some of the plot elements and character development of the film can be understood. As one begins to develop an allegory from the symbols and subtext of a film, it is very easy to begin seeing meaning everywhere, even where it is irrational to do so. This paper hopefully only develops the analogy between Biblical myths and events in the movie where a connection actually exists, and I have tried to develop at least a reasonable case that the symbolic dualism described here are valid and were purposely planted within the film to add depth to what is already a wonderful adventure.
Humanity itself is brought up for definition in this film, as the Replicants are in many ways more human than the “real humans” they are interacting with. These Replicants are artificial organic humanoids, which function as brute laborers and sex toys on Earth’s space colonies. They have five-year life spans, and are banned from Earth. Rutger Hauer is brilliant as the leader of the Replicant band which has come to Earth anyway, in search of the secret to extending their life spans. He in many ways is the most developed character in the entire film, as we see him laugh and cry, kill and philosophize. Their are no truly one-dimensional characters in this film, a credit to the cast, but there is definitely a sense that Bryant and many of the other humans are less than fully alive. Holden, the first Blade Runner we see, is totally lifeless and aloof. Quite probably this is the way Deckard was during his first stint as a Runner. It has been said that only as you face death are you truly alive, and the Replicants look into Death every minute of their lives. This is because although they know that they will die, they do not know their incept dates (birthdays) and as such are not sure when the clock started, or when it will end. Knowing only their life spans, they hunt for their incept dates and life extension, knowing that the end is always just around the corner. Possibly because of this, they live, fear, and love far more passionately than the film’s human characters. They also find a greater importance to life, as Batty discovers at the film’s end, when he saves the man who has killed everyone he loved.
J.F. Sebastian is in a way the “missing link” between the Replicants and their Human creators. He is Human in the fact that he was born, rather than created, yet the disease which is causing the rapid degeneration of his cells causes him to be in much the same situation as the Replicants he befriends. In this I find that J.F. functions as a symbol of Christ in this film. First, he is a composite of man and Replicant, just as Christ is a composite of God and man. Second, just as Christ lived among men, J.F. lived among the Replicants. Third, Christ attempted to bring humanity to God, and was killed by the very people he attempted to help. J.F. Sebastian also attempted to bring a man (Batty) to his maker (Tyrell) and was murdered for his trouble. It seems significant that Sebastian and Batty ascend (via elevator) to the presence of Tyrell.
There is, of course, one rather blatant problem with this scenario of Sebastian as Christ. Later in the movie, we see Batty shove a nail through his own palm. It is a gesture too symbolic for even History major to miss.- Blade Runner Insight. Christian Symbolism. Dan Newland. Available: http://www.br-insight.com/christian-symbolism
The protagonist, Rick Deckard played by Harrison Ford is a blade runner, a person who terminates human like people but are in fact replicants, who have been designed as all most slave like robots. it’s Deckards job to terminate them. I assumed that Deckard is retired as when he is propositioned to take the job he refuses. He seemed very reluctant to resume his role as Blade runner even though he is eventually pushed into it.
During the film replecants are required to part take in a test in which their eyes are monitored, they are asked a series of questions which would create an emotional response, I assume this is how they confirm if a person is a replecant. I find this quite psychological in a way and shows how people have the ability to control us.
A very prominent motif/Theme in this film is Corperate Power. Tyrell Corperation design and engineered the strongest and most advanced replicants, Nexus 6. Nexus 6 murdered several people and this shows the fear many of us have of corperate power. Polictical and Economical power has the ability to run entire countries, races any so much more. Blade Runner touches on this subject breifly. The fact that a company can do such things, scares viewers. It creates an emotional response to the film.
Rachel, A Replicant. Rachel is introduced to the viewers very early on within the film, she is introduced to both us and Deckard. Rachel to me, looks more robot like. The way she walked was something that particulally caught my attention, it was very restricted and stiff like, which I interpret as the directors showing she is restricted, she is controlled. Later on in the film we find out Rachel did not realise she was a replicant, she believed she was real because of her creators ability to implant realistic memories into her brain. I feel as though rachel is very Femme Fatale, her appearance is very unsual but very attractive. She mirrors a 50’s style woman with high shoulder pads on a ill fitted suit. Rachels hair, which is in rollers slowly loosens as she removes her grips During the ‘Love Scene’, this confirms my feeling she is a femme fatale because she does this very seductively, she is a replicant and her falling in love with a human and vice versa is dangerous.
‘The look and costumes of Sean Young as the replicant Rachael was pointedly borrowed from Joan Crawford as dressed by Gilbert Adrian, wearing wide-shouldered, waist-tapered suits and jackets with pencil skirts. The costume designers Charles Knode and Michael Kaplan, in keeping with the total production design, created inventive costumes that seemed influenced by the past, yet very contemporary and wearable in the future, the same qualities found in the timeless fashions of Adrian. There would be no cliche science-fiction costumes in Blade Runner, no zippered jumpsuits or latex body-suits, but rather a unique melange of 1940s styling, Japanese-inspired fashion, and punk-rock flash.’- Silver Screen Modes. The Look Of Blade Runner. March 2014. Available: http://silverscreenmodes.com/2014/03/the-look-of-blade-runner/
We are introduced to the supposed leader of Nexus 6. This man has bleached out eyebrows which make him very unusual to look at. I also think this adds to his persona of the ‘bad guy’ because his appearance is very unnerving. It makes me very unfomfortable to look at someone when they have no eyebrows or bleached out brows because its not normal, to me anyway. I really liked Zhora’s make up and body painting and this is something I would associate with Sci Fi, as I see it as more of an Alien invasion/ space genre. There is almost something very attractive/seductive about Zhora’s appearance which I think was done on purpose to distract Deckard.
Later on in the film we meet another member of Nexus 6 who airbrushes on her own tribal style make up. The black around her eyes and brows and her pale skin are also very un easy to look at, this is something I would associate with a Sci Fi film however and it also references one of the prominent themes throughout the film, Punk.
Image 2&3- Silver Screen Modes. The Look Of Blade Runner. March 2014. Available: http://silverscreenmodes.com/2014/03/the-look-of-blade-runner/
I find everything within the film is very dark, specifically visually. The locations used have very dark and dim lighting which creates a very dismal setting. I really like how the lighting designer has created a helicopter effect light that flashes into the rooms create quick flashes on light on the characters. I think this is really effective because we concentrate on whats around the characters as well as whats going on with the characters. A characters surroundings tell a lot about them as a person, even if its not their own personal space. The rain, which seems to be constant throughout the film also adds to the feel I get from the film.
The camera angles in the film are unusual, I feel the director has used unsual cinematography to support the film brilliantly. The high angles/close ups/wide shots are my favorites during the film, particulaly when Deckard terminates Zhora. I love how they filmed her slowly smashing through all the glass doors/windows. The close ups showed Zhora’s facial expressions and the wide shots showed the glass slowly breaking infront and behind her, I loved it!
The camera angles used allow us as a viewer to see things different than if it was filmed with basic angles. The angles used correspond with current scene happenings which enhance our expereinece. We tend to see a lot of formalist cinematography during the film, particularly when the camera goes above the city in a birds eye view style, we will never be able to see this view unless we were in the air. The lower angle shots, no matter what film they are in make me feel as though the characters are vulnerable. The things surrounding them are overpowering, which is something I find very common in bladerunner.
I was really looking forward to watching Blade Runner, with the film being considered one of the best, I was a little dissapointed. I loved the visuals, effects etc but I just didn’t enjoy the film as much as inception for example.