Frankenstein & Bladerunner

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Although written in different times, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and Bladerunner by Ridley Scott both address similar concerns about the consequences of unrestrained technological abuse, relentless consumerism and their threat to the natural world as man exerts power to alter the natural rhythms of life. Shelley and Scott, projected into the future, what they saw to be trends in their own times that threatened the balance between humanity and the world. Their imagined worlds echo a warning, concerning unchecked technological advancement and ring of an inevitability if man??™s power to alter the nature of the world is not controlled.

Written during the 19th century following when Europe was experiencing an industrial revolution, nouveau riche and vast improvements in scientific endeavours, Shelley, a young Romanticist, created this text to satirise the rising current view that nature would be overcome by science, together with mass production and booming technological processes. Shelley??™s FR spins a precautionary tale predicting a future where nature has been deprived from man as a result of man??™s unrestrained scientific and industrial activity, an exertion of man??™s power over nature uncontrolled.

The possibilities of Galvanism and the Industrial Revolution blinds man from nature, greed and power, a new prospect the nouveau riche or the newly rich experience destroys moral values and principles. All these elements are evident in the character of Frankenstein. Having ???lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit??™, Victor Frankenstein ???pursued nature to her hiding places??™, but ignorantly enough Victor ignored nature??™s boundaries and in doing so regretfully created a by-product of this ???pursuit??™. The monster, who Victor describes as ???horrid??™ and ???wretch??™, does not turn out to be the creation that he anticipated to be. Rejecting and not naming his invention makes the reader feel a sense of prejudice against the monster as it is given titles such as the ???monster??™ or ???creature??™, words that linger on a negative aspect. This initial reaction of Victor was an indirect means of Shelley showing how humans would react to side effects or catastrophes caused by scientific endeavours, a prospect evident today, eg Chernobyl and the questioning of nuclear science.

Shelley, through the murders of William, Justine, Clerval, Elizabeth and Victor??™s father, portrays how scientific advancements would affect nature and its supporters. This can be reinforced by Shelley??™s placement of these characters, in his hometown of Geneva where they are surrounded in nature and beautiful landscapes. The creature or Shelley??™s symbolism of unchecked technological advancement ravages through the villages killing those dear to Victor??™s heart. Enraged and regretful, Victor sets out to seek revenge and stop further harm from his creature. Victor??™s action is that of regret and lament, a sort of prophetic insight from Shelley, explaining that unchecked scientific actions would cause grief to man. The fact that the monster came to Victor??™s hometown and caused harm, means that unchecked scientific experiments would destroy nature and Victor, who represents those in favour of technological advancement, would ultimately come to regret their actions.

Although criticising science through her portrayal of Victor and the creature, Shelley does explain that there is a choice. A choice to divert from this path of technological advancement, through the character of Walton. Walton endures rough conditions to reach the North Pole in the name of science but through his letters the reader understands we have a choice of turning back, like Walton who turns back due to his deadly conditions for him and his men. Through her portrayal of Walton who turns back we are able to compare Walton to Victor, both men wanted to understand more about science, but Victor had hurt innocent people whereas Walton returns home to England without risking the lives of his sailors. From this comparison it can seen that Shelley presents us with two paths, one that leads to destruction like Victor or one that leads to safety like Walton.

While nature exists in Frankenstein, in Ridley Scott??™s Bladerunner (BR) nature has been all but extinguished in the post apocalyptic landscape of LA 2019. Chiaroscuro lighting and high angle shots show a global underclass composed of a melange of cultures, permanently stunted by acid rain and constant nightfall, contextually mirroring the concerns of so called Asian tiger economies, globalisation and the environment found in the 80??™s. it is an inverted Eden, where ???fiery the angels fell??™ a criticising homage to the ???Greed??™ is Good??™ era or Reagan economic rationalism. The ziggurat like building of the Tyrell Corporation symbolises the new social structure and creed ???commerce is our goal here??™ as low angle shots denote its grandeur, marked by Vangelis??™ eerily grand electronic score.

Love is a measure of humanity, as Rachel begins the process of re-humanising the hard-boiled cop Deckard. In BR its people are isolated and atomised by the forces of industry, exemplified in the film noir styling ??“ venetian blinds entrapping the two in Deckard??™s apartment. As Rachel metaphorically and literally lets down her hair and plays piano, she becomes ???more human than human??™ blurring the line between the simulation and original and what Baudrillard terms as ???the generation by models without origin??¦a hyperreal.??™ One is felt compelled to answer themselves as she asks ???have you taken the (Voight Kampf) test yourself??™: the Turing test of the 21st century. The final composition of the frame as Deckard leans over to kiss Rachel invoking the round unity of Yin and Yang, making a whole human being out of two differing halves. Nature, though stunted like the Bonsai in Deckard??™s apartment is still resilient enough to survive in this dystopia, ironically in the artificial.

Similarly, moral wilderness in BR is seen in the character and symbolism of Tyrell and his corporation. The final frontiers of human sanctity have been breached by the pursuit for profit and knowledge. As Roy Batty, the ???prodigal son??™ asks his creator for more life, the hubris and arrogance in all humanity??™s technological undertakings in altering nature is evident in Tyrell??™s cool rationalising reply, ???the candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you Roy have burned very brightly??™. Roy finds parallel with Shakespeare??™s Edmund as he crushes the eyes of his creator for failing to see the ???bonds of nature??™. The eyes in BR serve as a central motif, representing inherent humanity, and Tyrell??™s vision is found flawed and false as symbolised by his thick glasses and the artificial eyes of his owl indicting his artificial wisdom. Tyrell??™s status as a false god is indicated by the glided hollowness of the interior of the corporation building and emphasised by the imagery of chess ??“ he plays with human life as though it were a pawn in a game demonstrating the magnitude of the commodification of humanity

A glimmer of hope in Frankenstein is found mirrored in the conclusion of Bladerunner. Walton??™s decision to turn back and return home and Roy Batty through heavy Judeo-Christian imagery of the nail through his hand, the releasing of the dove and the redemption of Deckard suggests that there is hope. So long as the message is not ???lost in time like tears and rain??™. Nature may perhaps be resilient to grow again, symbolised by Gaffi??™s origami – the unicorn a metaphor for the desire of a mythical return to purity found in nature, found also in the symbolism of Deckard??™s Bonsai