Bladerunner and Research

Some of you are using the film Bladerunner directed by Ridley Scott for your research and I thought I would give you a little information on the film.

The film was originally produced in 1982 and it is based on a 1969 novel, Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick. Blade Runner soon became a cult movie and Ridley Scott’s Director’s Cut was released in 1992 and it has some significant differences to the original release.

Apart from its obvious basis in the science fiction genre, Blade Runner is also considered to be an example of the detective and film noir genres.

During the 1980s technological advances became more immediate in every day life. In particular computers proliferated in the business world and soon invaded homes. With computers came many fears including: jobs being lost to machines; alienation in the commercial world; invasion of privacy; and an inability to keep abreast of the changes. Anxiety about the benefits of technology became more acute. People also became more aware of human destruction of the environment and there was a general fear that technology was taking over to the detriment of humanity. This sense of foreboding was mirrored in a number of science fiction films of the 1980s and such pessimism is very apparent in Blade Runner.

Blade Runner is set in Los Angeles in 2019. Scenes of this futuristic cityscape are grim, dark and polluted. It presents a devastating picture of the earth in the near future. Late twentieth century fears of technology dominating humanity have become a reality in this film.

Initial shots of the city show three imposing furnaces spewing flames and smoke into the night skies. City streets are narrow, overcrowded and riddled with puddles from incessant rain. Gigantic, monolithic buildings, like that of the Tyrell Corporation, tower over the city and large visual, electronic advertising signs peer ominously over a dwarfed humanity. A blimp drifting above the sordid conditions frequently informs its audience of a better life in the Off-World colonies. Its message claims, “A new life awaits you in the Off-World colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure.”

The environment in Blade Runner is a grave warning of the hazards that can result from modern technology. The general mass of Earth’s humanity, the so called “little people”, appear to exist in this dark, joyless world. They seem to have little interest in nature, which is abysmal. They shield themselves with umbrellas, goggles, gas masks, or hats with face covering veils attached and scamper to covered areas in the densely populated Chinatown setting.

A perceived threat to humanity is the existence of Nexus-6 Replicants, robots which have escaped their enslavement in the Off-World colonies and have returned to Earth. It is the duty of a “blade runner” Rick Deckard to “retire” or eliminate these Replicants. Any definition of humanity becomes blurred as Deckard ruthlessly hunts down and destroys these beings that have begun to develop feelings and emotions of their own. Their purpose in returning to the Earth is to discover a means to prolong their incredibly brief four-year life span. With this aim in mind the Replicants appear to have developed human qualities, which have taken over their robotic ones.

It is a very interesting film and well worth watching if you are yet to see it.


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