Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Blade Runner (directors cut, 1992) directed by Ridley Scott are both exposed to the continuing nature dominant paradigms presented in the 19th and 20th century. Mary Shelly and Ridley Scott challenge the dominant assumptions of the romantic and scientific paradigms, this ultimately challenges society’s understanding of humanity, and the concept of what makes someone human.
Although 200 years separate these texts are both cautionary tales about the creation of life through science and technology, and both present similar ideas and perspectives on creation.Frankenstein and Blade runner both criticize the dangers of applying uncontrolled use of science and technology. These texts also question values and models of heroism through the characterization of the protagonists. Furthermore Frankenstein and Blade Runner critique humanity through the characterization of the created ‘monster’.
This critique presents values of self-knowledge, repentance and the celebration of life. The texts Frankenstein and Blade Runner are both exemplary examples of the dangers of unchecked application of science and technology.The text Frankenstein was written in the midst of a surge of scientific advancement. This was a time era where to have intelligence and knowledge was to have power.
This caused pursuits of knowledge to be ceaseless, and people were constantly seeking more intelligence and power. Mary Shelley represented these dangers of the ceaseless pursuits of knowledge through using gothic literature as a means of presenting her criticism and warnings. Shelley uses gothic tropes throughout the creation of the ‘monster’. Frankenstein’s first reaction establishes the poignant and elegiac emotions that persist for the remainder of the text.
The technique of the use of gothic tropes; “miserable monster”, “livid with the hue of death”, dismal and wet”, “black comfortless sky”, allows the idea of creation of a being to be overshadowed by a sense of destruction which juxtaposes V. Frankenstein’s initial optimism and faith in scientific aspirations “a new species will bless me as creator”, thus creating warning about the dangers of scientific advancement and the pursuit of knowledge. This idea of the dangers of unchecked application of science and technology is further evident in Walton’s letters to his sister.In these letters Walton quotes “what could be expected in the country of eternal light? ” this quote displays how Shelley expresses light as having the power to blind the pursuer, allowing them to disregard the possible consequences of their actions.
Shelly shows that Frankenstein is blinded by the idea that he could “pour a torrent of light into our dark world” by juxtaposing it to the idea that once the work was completed “the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart”. This further expresses the idea of the dangers on uncontrolled pursuit of knowledge and power.Blade Runner (directors cut, 1992) directed but Ridley Scott, challenges the same values, but in a slightly different manner. Frankenstein acts like a warning, whereas Blade Runner represents the consequences of not following the warning Shelley made about the dangers of the unchecked application of science and technology.
Blade Runner was made during a period of rapid technological growth and during a surge of commercialism. Scott acknowledges that humanity’s quality of life was under threat due to the out of control industrialization that occurred after WW1.The opening scenes present the catastrophic results of an unchecked continuance of technological advancement; this representation further epitomizes the catastrophic results due to the lack of moral responsibility towards science. Nature doesn’t seem to appear at any point.
The absence of nature teamed with the crowded streets, acid rain, huge neon advertisements filling the available space between high rises, and the consistent presence of smoke, reveals the decaying megalopolis that plays the setting in Blade Runner.These effects give the audience and dim and dismal feel towards the setting of Blade Runner, thus emphasizing the dangers of uncontrolled advancements in technology. The use of a panoramic shot epitomizes these ideas and emphasizes the perpetuity of the wasteland it has become. The synthesized music and the heavy, ominous overtones put emphasis on the distopic view of the futuristic world, this representation is further emphasized by the film noir techniques of shadowed faces, subdued lighting and the ominous smoke.
This helps the audience to develop the idea of a depleted world.The texts Frankenstein and Blade Runner are both key examples of the exploration of the model of heroism. Both of these texts question the values and morals of the heroism through characterization of the protagonists. The hero’s in Frankenstein and in Blade Runner both hold values (essentially seen as destructive) in common with their context of creation.
Frankenstein was also written in the romanticism movement. This context allows Shelley to use the romantic notion of creative genius and scientific paradigms intent to open up secrets of nature and the physical world to mankind. This idea is represented through V.Frankenstein’s romantic and masculine model of heroism.
This egotistical and hubris nature leads him to believe the pursuit of science and knowledge will place him on levels with “homer and Shakespeare”. This concept of heroism is established in Walton’s letters in Walton then Frankenstein. “what may not be expected in a country of eternal light” this quotes encompasses the theme of the light as a symbol of knowledge and discovery, which is the juxtaposed to the idea that V. Frankenstein is blinded by the ‘eternal light’ he sees around his idea of discovery, thus emphasizing the key idea of the exploration of the model of heroism.
In the 1980’s the world was poor in values as a result of increasing materialism and consumerism, and post WWII cynicism, towards the type of world humanity was capable of creating. People during this time ear people witnessed atrocious acts practiced during war, and basest qualities started to appear in mankind. Blade Runner main protagonist doesn’t posses the traits that are soften seen in a hero. Scott developed this character to have a lack in values and moral direction, which help reflect the context of the 1980’s.
It is questioned throughout the movies whether or not Deckard is man or replicant.Deckard’s treatment of Rachel reflects the base qualities in man. And the question of him being a replicant is shown through the origami of the unicorn found at the end of the film, linking it bad to a dream/ memory of Deckard’s, questioning if it was actually a real memory. This is shown through the techniques of film noir.
Blade Runner is closely related to Frankenstein in the sense that both creators, Tyrell and V. Frankenstein, abandon any moral responsibility for their creations. These techniques question values and models of heroism by developing specific traits that the audience][‘’ potentially see as destructive.