Frankenstein and Blade Runner Essay

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In contemplating Module A you have considered both Mary Shelley??™s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott??™s Blade Runner in their respective contexts and compared their values, ideas and language forms and features.

How has this process help you come to a heightened understanding of the meaning and significance of each text.

Most certainly, comparing texts and different contextual concerns adds significant value to one??™s understanding of the individual texts and their central themes. Mary Shelley??™s Frankenstein (1818) and Ridley Scott??™s Blade Runner (1992) explore similar themes from different contexts and genres. In Frankenstein the contextual concerns of the questioning of Man versus God, and the values of the Industrial Revolution are raised whilst, the film Blade Runner, explores the emerging technological advancement in the late 20th Century. This is significantly influenced by contemporary scientific discoveries and by particular social and religious concerns. Ultimately, while each text has value by itself, responders can better appreciate the significance of these texts through a comprehensive comparison.

Mary Shelley??™s Frankenstein was written in the context where the society was concerned with the consequence of unrestrained scientific developments. During the time, Shelley was exposed to experiments in galvanism (originated from Luigi Galvani who was interested in how muscles move through the power of electricity). The language and form used in portrayal of these ideas reflects Shelley??™s attitude towards the emerging technology. For example, evocative imagery is employed to create a vivid image of a ???…lustrous black??? haired ???yellow skinned??? monster which ???scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath..??? This description continues, conveying a detailed idea of the horrific image of the monster, whilst establishing a strong aura of death and despair around this scientific advancement. The imagery of the ???dead corpse??? and repetitious use of ???horror??? upon the creation of the ???miserable monster??? further emphasis Victor??™s warning to Walton to ???avoid ambitions of science and discoveries???. Ultimately, the contextual ideals in Frankenstein determine the concerns and religious values addressed to the audience.

Similarly, the concern of fast technological advancement is explored through the contemporary context of Blade Runner which included growing consumerism and globalisation. Scott raised the scientific concerns of technological advancements such as computers, discoveries of IVF and genetic engineering, through the manipulation of different film techniques. These highlights the consequence of creating artificial human beings and abusive use of technology. The opening panoramic shot of blazing smokestacks which, together with the haunting Vangelis soundtrack, introduces a world with overloaded technology, adding further interpretation to the consequences of the degradation of the natural environment and the increase in urbanisation in the future. This reflects the contextual concerns raised by events such as the 1986 nuclear disaster at Chernobyl and other environmental disasters. A major contextual concern in society is shown through the symbolic dominance of Tyrell??™s towering ziggurat, a reflection of both his desire for omnipotence and commercial power. Furthermore, computers were being introduced and space travel had become a factor. In the film sliders that were flying cars emphasise the idea that technology was changing society. Therefore, the scientific context of Blade Runner leads to a portrayal of a decaying environment which reflects the growing ecological awareness of the 1980??™s.

In both texts, the scientific context and technological development raise significant social concerns which then lead audiences to consider the religion contexts of the texts. Religious concerns involve questioning if Man can play the role of God. This is expressed through symbolism and biblical allusion in both Frankenstein and Blade Runner.

Shelley develops the concept of Man usurping God??™s role as creator through the comparison of Victor and the Prometheus in Greek mythology. Metaphorically, like Prometheus, Victor represents an individual who is defying and challenging natural order. However, once Victors goal of creating a new species is achieved, his initial reaction is abhorrence towards his own creation – “I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open… His yellow skin, horrid contrast with watery eyes.. and straight black lips”. Additionally, Victor thinks he could become God-like and create life, thus, he was doomed to spend his life forever mentally and emotionally punished, much like Prometheus, and his final months in extreme grief and isolation. Moreover, Shelly??™s allusions to John Milton??™s Paradise Lost evoke the poetic references of Satan??™s fall from grace, where in the Monster??™s association with ???the fallen angel??? highlights the effects of Victor??™s rejection, consequently transforming its ???benevolent nature??? into a thirst for retribution. Victor??™s rejection of the monster also links to Rousseau??™s philosophy of tabula rasa which explains that although the monster was good in nature, he was destroyed by his creator??™s criticism and his upbringing. Together with its questioning of how Victor could ???sport with life???, Shelley??™s constant warning of Man yearning to play the role of the Creator directly raise the religious concern and question the scientists of her era. Ultimately, it is clear that the religious context of Frankenstein determines the details and issues it addresses.

In Blade Runner, a scientific context that influences the social concerns also raises religious awareness in the 1980??™s. Scott??™s use of film techniques highlights the question of Man taking over the role of God due to technological developments. It is evident that Tyrell attempts be ???God like??? through the religious connotations of his abode- the chiaroscuro of flickering candle light with shadow, as well as his reference to Batty as ???the prodigal son???. Scott then deals with the effect of Man impersonating the responsibility of God through Deckard??™s ???retiring??? of the Replicant Zhora. Here, the stylistic placement of the transparent poncho further emphasises the violence of her death, with slow-motion low angle shot conveying her heightened sense of humanity within her last painful moments. In contrast, Deckard??™s emotionless features, together with the monotonous features of the droid, suggests that the artificial creations will ultimately lead to negative consequence of man portraying the role of God. As a result, the social concerns raised during the context fundamentally shapes the ideas and issues of the Blade Runner.

In conclusion, despite the contextual differences between each texts, both draw upon the societal concerns of their times in Mary Shelly??™s Romantic era and Ridley Scott??™s heavy Industrial period. Subsequently, the importance of these concerns and values, communicated by the composers reflects upon the past and presents a cautionary tale for the future to the audiences.