Comparative Study Blade Runner & Frankenstein Essay

In what ways does a comparative study accentuate the distinctive contexts of Frankenstein and Blade Runner? - Comparative Study Blade Runner & Frankenstein Essay introduction?? Almost 200 years of history exist between the publishing of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”. Looking at these two texts closely it becomes obvious that many of their central messages and values are almost identical, such as the development of science, the questionable morality behind artificial life, the significance of family and the role of the parent/creator. When observing how each text expresses these messages and values, the differences between the contexts are made more distinct. Frankenstein was composed during the period of galvanism, when human science was still stretching its legs compared to where it is today. This was a period in which electricity was still a fresh new concept, and experiments on frogs in which conducting electricity through their nerves making them move seemed to point to the possibility of reanimation.

This exciting revelation is what sparked the central idea behind the story of Frankenstein – if humans could possibly be on the cusp of reanimating a frog, what would stop us from doing so to a human? However this world in which science and electricity is still a fairly new concept is made clear by the scenery presented in the world of Frankenstein. The characters often find themselves surrounded by beautiful natural landscapes and scenes that offer them consolation for their emotions. We see natures ability to offer aid, for example the monster says at one point that “the moon ‘enlightened’” his path Blade Runner was composed during a period of rapid technological development with computers on the rise, globalisation spreading worldwide and contemporary threats to humanity’s future such as global warming and threats to national security (post-cold war). In this way much of the fear for the near future is expressed through the world we experience when watching Blade Runner.

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From the opening shot we are overwhelmed with sprawling cityscape that spews flames into the skies. Then we see an eye – a single eye – watching what this world has become, the flame pillars reflected in its stare. As we never see who the eye belongs to, it easily becomes ours – the audiences eye. This world at first seems in no way similar to that of Frankenstein. Giant neon coca-cola signs, Chinatown, the very symbols of modern globalisation are present. But we are then made to be ‘impressed’ by the giant Mayan-style pyramid that is the Tyrell building. This is where Roy Batty, replicants, confronts his maker, Eldon Tyrell. This is parallel to the Monsters confrontation of Victor at Mont Blanc. The key difference? As Victor puts his feelings toward Mont Blanc, “The sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation.” Unlike Mont Blanc, the Tyrell building embodies synthetic artificiality – it is a structure both mathematically and mechanically defined. Mary Shelley’s mother once said; “A great proportion of the misery that wanders in hideous forms around the world is allowed to rise from the negligence of parents.” Frankenstein alerts us to the possibility that men do not always have the capacity for humanity, shown through Victors many flaws, his inability to take responsibility for his actions such as the creation of the monster and the people it kills and his outright rejection of his creation once he sees it awaken for the first time. Blade Runner takes this idea further by presenting a world with a lack of responsibility, written at a time of trans-national corporations and commercial dominance. Tyrell regards his replicants as “either a benefit or a hazard”.

Blade Runner in this way is often seen as the next progression of the ideas of artificial life that Frankenstein presents. The empathy test in Blade Runner decides the authenticity of the replicants. This makes empaty the essential indication of ‘humanity’. The replicants, who are seen empathising with one another, juxtaposes with the humans who are a quite unempathetic, mass of humanity on the streets are cold and impersonal. Paralell to replicants in Frankenstein is the monster who is quite empathetic but Victor acts cold and unsympathetic towards him, calling him “wretched” and “vile”, indicating that with the idea of artificial life comes the depreciating value of empathy. Also since emotions are articulated and expressed through use of nature in Frankenstein, the comparative study of these two texts would lead us to believe that the lack of empathy in Blade Runner comes from the lack of surrounding nature through which humanity can find natural beauty. The distinctive contexts of Blade Runner and Frankenstein become obvious once the two texts are studied together, accentuated by their parallel messages and values. The differences in the text’s settings, as well as exploration of humanity are clearly products of their separate eras of development.

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