Frankenstein & Blade Runner

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both frankenstein and blade runner, to some degree; juxtapose, and subsequently challenge, what is human and what is inhuman. shelleys frankenstein begins solely from the point of view of victor (essentially. sure, theres robert walton and all, but youre only getting a one sided view of the tale regardless) and the monster is established as this inhuman thing (which, physically, he is) before he is given the chance to speak. now; the monster has the chance to speak he relates his tale and his struggles (such as his encounter with the de lacey family; who for some reason i find bloody pretentious) and his emotions on the events. in this light, the monster seems more human than his creator victor, who merely “infused the spark of life” upon the monster and then let the monster learn the ways of life through the school of hard knocks so to speak. the monsters developed emotional framework shows that he has, indeed, become human – he shows the need to love, and to be loved, and to be some way accepted, hence his willing to have a female creation. such a request may even seem reasonable to the reader at this point; you could see it as a challenge to “true humanity” – whilst the monster is physically inhumane, his narration of experience warrants a human response.

this same thing is in blade runner. replicant is born. replicant learns of the ways of life. replicant develops emotions. replicant desires more of life because they have attained a sense of humanity.

If there is a common theme between the two, I think it is that humanity is, at its core, obsessed with the superficial.
In Frankenstein, you have a creator that attempts to bring perfection to life, and perhaps he is successful. It doesnt matter, though: his creation is so hideous and freightening that it could never truly be accepted by society, and must seek solace in the creation of another of its kind. Without that, and when denied that, the creation becomes a killer.
Blade Runner, or course, approaches this from another angle, but similarities remain. Creations become murderous, and while they are ultimately perfect, they cannot be accepted by society. It is telling that the lead (I cant remember the names of the characters…but its Harrison Fords officer)
ends up with a creation at the end of the movie, demonstrating just how worthwhile and perfect these creations can be, even though society cannot look past what is considered to be taboo.
Mary Shelley??™s gothic prose work ???Frankenstein, or; The Modern Prometheus??™ and Ridley Scott??™s noir film ???Blade Runner??™ explore similar issues in vastly different contexts. Although sharing little in setting or premise ??“ they present the same issues; governed by the same values and perspectives. The similar issues explored by the texts are paternal responsibility, and the role of God and women in society. Although presented in different contexts; the two texts share similar values and perspectives.

Shelley??™s ???Frankenstein, or; The Modern Prometheus??™ presents a challenge to the role of God ??“ even suggested so early as the title and opening passage. The Promethean myth concerns a god in Greek mythology ??“ Prometheus. Prometheus, a Titan, attempted to steal fire from Mount Olympus and the Olympians as a gift to mankind. Although his intentions were pure; he was punished by Zeus for upsetting the hierarchy and overstepping moral boundaries, and was sentenced to eternal suffering. The opening passage is a quote from the poet John Milton??™s epic Paradise Lost:-

Did I ask thee maker from my clay
To mould Me man Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me

Mary Shelley employs these seemingly simple motifs as a way of elucidating the inherent challenge to God??™s authority. Milton??™s Paradise Lost is concerned with ???man??™s first disobedience??™, the subsequent fall of man, and the absolute authority of God. Victor Frankenstein; a man driven by an insatiable desire for knowledge, discovers the secret of life and bestows it upon a man constructed from the body parts of the dead. In a religious reading, Victor has taken the power of God and wielded it as his own ??“ challenging the absolute authority of God. In this sense; he has become a metaphorical Prometheus ??“ taking the right to bestow life and attempting to give this ???fire??™, this ???spark of life??™ to humanity. In trying to steal this secret of life, however, he instead creates a mockery of nature ??“

???His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black and flowing, and his teeth of a pearly whiteness, but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes and straight black lips.???

Victor is emotionally tortured by his creation and in death the natural order of ???God over Man??™ is restored. Ridley Scott??™s ???Blade Runner??™ too, mocks the natural world through its portrayal of Man??™s sheer dominance over it. In the beginning of the film, an extreme long shot affords us a view from above the city of Los Angeles in 2019. It affords us a view of seemingly never-ending urbanization highlighted by plumes of flame which highlight the extent of the environmental degradation. While Frankenstein shows an appreciation for nature (such as the description of the ???awful majesty??™ of Mt. Blanc), Blade Runner merely mocks it. Shelley??™s descriptions of nature are undoubtedly influenced by her social & historical context ??“ married to eminent Romanticist poet Percy Shelley and associated with another, Lord Byron, her appreciation of nature was bound to be evident in her writing. Blade Runner, on the other hand, does not accentuate the power of nature but instead the power of corporations. This is shown through low shots looking up at advertisement airships, high shots emphasising the unimportance of the people in the streets and low shots of great buildings ??“ most notably, the Tyrell Corporation building; the company responsible for the Replicants. The Tyrell Corporation building is reminiscent of the architecture of the pyramids at Giza in Egypt; the first feature which suggests it??™s owner Eldon Tyrell??™s messianic position in society. In the meeting with Roy Batty; we are shown Tyrell??™s bedroom in the building. Here we see one of the only examples of natural lighting in the film; a golden light produced by a multitude of candles which flicker and flood the room with light. The architecture of this room, too, is to be noted; reminiscent of Roman works such as the Parthenon. The features of the environment, coupled with Tyrell??™s passage to Roy accentuate his messianic status within society:-

???The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long. And you have burned so very brightly, Roy. You??™re the prodigal son. You??™re quite a prize.???
In objectifying Roy with ???You??™re quite a prize??? and making an allusion to one of Jesus??™ parables, Tyrell asserts his power and undermines Roy??™s humanity.

Tyrell disregards Roy??™s request to ???Give me more life, fucker??? and Roy kills Tyrell; Again, effectively restoring the natural order.

Women are, like God in religious readings, the givers of life. It must be noted that in two texts concerned with the artificial creation of life that the role of women should also decrease. In? ? Shelley??™s Frankenstein the only truly significant female character, Elizabeth Lavenza; is only included to give the reader a perspective of Victor??™s home through her letters to him. She is later killed; so she serves as a plot catalyst, rather than a whole character in her own right. The main characters are all male ??“ Victor, Clerval, Walton and the Monster himself ??“ thus giving rise to the interpretation that as man is able to create life, the woman??™s role is undermined. This perspective is also applicable to Scott??™s Blade Runner. There are no significant human female characters in the film. The three women which play a role in the plot ??“ Zhora, Pris & Rachael ??“ are all replicants. Zhora and Pris are killed ??“ leaving Rachael as the only female character left in the text. Rachael??™s humanity is negated by her lack of emotional range; such as the scene where Deckard has to tell Rachael to kiss him ??“ this shows that Rachael has to be ???taught??™ sensuality; rather than an instinctive action. In both texts, the role of the woman is undermined; thus showing the same values and perspectives ??“ that once life can be created by man, the role of the woman is undermined.

In exploring the thematic framework of these texts, we are shown that the values and perspectives are shared between the two texts through the portrayal of the similar issues within them. The allegorical underpinning of each text is that ??“ to wield the secrets of life is against God, and against nature ??“ the sanctity of life should never be disturbed for personal gain. This moral value is present throughout both texts; and has not been altered by time, context or interpretation.