Through a close analysis of Frankenstein and Blade Runner explore the implications of the quote above Both Mary Shelley’s Romantic Gothic novel Frankenstein (1818) and Ridley Scott’s postmodern science fiction film Blade Runner (1992) explore the implications of egotistic humans overreaching the natural order: humans who “dare” to “sport” “with life”.
Despite Frankenstein springing from a context of Romantic passion an Enlightenment rationalisation and Blade Runner from economic rationalism and increasing consumerism both texts explore the dehumanizing and environmentally degrading consequences of scientific or commercial hubris in recklessly creating “life”, thus overriding the natural order. In both Frankenstein and Blade Runner there is an agonising revelation that ‘sporting thus with life’ can result in dehumanisation, whereby humans, Frankenstein and Tyrell, descent into monstrosity and their monstrous creations, the “abhorred wretch” and replicants, rise into moral superiority. Was I, then, a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned? ”
The recent shift from Frankenstein’s confessional narrative to the creature’s anguished first-person narration and the repetition of ‘all men’ elicits the creature’s torment at humanity’s prejudice, moving the reader’s sympathy from Victor to the creature. Victor’s appears blind to his moral responsibilities to his creation, condemning it to a life of suffering, devoid of understanding or compassion.
Moreover, Shelley explores the nature of humanity, through intertextual references to the Enlightenment philosophies of Locke and Rousseau who asserted society’s corrupting influence over man. “Sorrow only increased with knowledge…” The creature manifests the theories of such philosophers: that man is corrupted through social interaction. His thoughts begin innocently, but as they “become more active”, a monstrosity reflective of humanity, rather than the creatures inherent self develops.
The three books he discovers, teach him of man’s capacity for evil, “Was man so virtuous and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? Ironically, an ignorance of his identity proves to be a blessing. “But where were my friends and relations? ” The rhetorical questioning of his absent relations provokes the readers’ sympathies with the ‘wretch’, who manifests profound human qualities such as innocence and purity. Thus, the juxtaposition between human’s monstrosity and the monster’s humanity proves the shocking dehumanising effects of daring to “sport thus with life”. Despite the two-century lapse between Blade Runner and Frankenstein, Blade Runner also addresses the distortion between humanity and monstrosity.
Scott uses an upward angle to depict the terrifying physical enormity of the Tyrell Corporation, to symbolise the metaphorical enormity of Tyrell’s social and commercial dominance, alluding to an indifferent monstrosity. The close up shots of Tyrell’s glasses, in the scene immediately preceding his death accentuate his inability to view his replicants beyond a purely commercial sense and so becomes the monstrous manifestation of the capitalist avarice of multinational corporations. Ironically, Roy becomes not physically but morally “more human than human”.
He is described in objectifying terms as the “prodigal son” and “quite a prize”, but proves more humane than his creator. In his dying moments, the piercing of a nail through his bloody hand and dove’s release into the unprecedented clear sky symbolise an ironically peaceful Christ-like figure triumphing in his capacity for forgiveness. The corresponding crescendo of Vangelis’ non-diegetic music reflect the rising of humanity within monstrosity: the foreboding result of daring to “sport thus with life”.
The sublimity of nature evident in Frankenstein comprises implications of daring to ‘sport with life’. “They congregating around me, the unstained snowy mountain top, the glittering pinnacle… And raged bare ravine… Bade me at peace”. The accumulation compounds the Pantheistic imagery to convey the sublimity and restorative powers of nature, a calming “paradise”, which ‘bade me at peace’. Likewise, the ‘glittering pinnacle’ illustrates a lofty magnificence, contrasted with, and yet exaggerated by the harsh beauty of the ‘ragged bare ravine’ portraying nature’s sublimity. Sound of the river raging among the rocks… spoke of a power mighty as Omnipotence”. The alliteration of ‘river raging among the ricks’ evokes a natural fluidity while simultaneously alluding to Victor’s psychological turmoil, which he seeks to dispel through Nature. Furthermore, Nature seemingly parallels his emotions: “Again the rain began to descent… heavy heart and depressed spirits”. The falling rain coincides with his faltering spirits.
This is further reiterated in “autumn passed thus… the leaves decay and fall and nature again assumes the barren and bleak appearance it had worn”. Here Shelley employs pathetic fallacy to mimic Frankenstein’s emotional struggle and furthermore emphasise the implications of ‘sporting with life’. Two centuries later Blade Runner displays an obvious absence of nature, which has been replaced by the synthetic, resulting in a foreboding urban wasteland.
The devastating implications of ‘sporting thus with life’ are evident in setting revealed in the opening scenes, which exposes a dark and brooding city with perpetual rain, lingering fog and darkness only penetrated by the artifice of street signs and enormous, inculcating video advertisements. The environmental decay and moral dissonance are further enhanced during the opening scene when the camera pans the majestic Tyrell Corporation. Despite viewing grandeur and power in the forefront, the background reveals environmental destruction and industrial pollution, which definitively links the cause and consequence.
Tyrell’s ambition, “Commerce is our goal here at Tyrell, more human than human is our motto,” further emphasises Tyrell’s desire for money, and lack of responsibility towards the environmental, in which the implications of ‘sporting thus with life’ are presented. Thus, Frankenstein and Bladerunner effectively explore the implications of egotistic humans overreaching the natural order: humans who “dare” to “sport” “with life”. The differing contexts explore the dehumanizing and environmentally degrading consequences of scientific or commercial hubris in recklessly creating “life”, thus overriding the natural order.