“Why is it that Frankenstein and Blade Runner present similar perspectives tohumanities use of technology despite being composed more than 150 yearsapart?” in your response make detailed response to both texts.
The desire for social progression has always shrouded society. Both Mary Shelley’sFrankenstein (1818) and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) were produced duringeras of technological exploration. Through depicting technology breeching moral boundaries through context, characterisation and intertextuality, both Scott andShelley highlight the dangers of progression with the absence of ethical emotion – atimeless social issues which binds these two texts.Written during the industrial revolution and the emerging era of existentialism andexploration – Shelley’s Frankenstein can be interpreted as a warning to thetechnologically curious. This curious nature is personified throughout the protagonistVictor Frankenstein, who tragically falls victim to experimentation without boundaries. This was an attempt to forshadow the potential dangers of unmonitoredtechnological advancements. To reiterate this sentiment, Shelley also aimed to tostress the divinity of nature in the face of technological dominance through elementsof Romanticism. “The weight upon my shoulders was sensibly lightened as I plungedyet deeper into the ravine” emotive imagery highlights the cleansing effect of theenvironment, juxtaposed against the oppressive nature of the technologicallyadvanced city.This idea of negatively depicting technologic dominance is similarly illuminated byScott. To emphasise the age of globalisation, consumerism, corporate domination andcommercialism, Scott has intended the dystopian setting of P.A. 2019 to represent our potential existence should we let technology get out of control. The establishing panoramic long shot of industrial columns spewing fire against the eternally dark horizon generated fear for what our society might come to be. The majestic zigguratsof the Tyrell Corporation loom over the city squalor – a visual metaphor for technology’s domination over society and the resulting negative impact. It is clear thatScott had intended Blade Runner to be a warning of our own progressive drive as asociety.Shelley has characterised Victor and the Monster as elements of this technological progression. Victor represents society intent on pushing the boundaries and themonster represents the product of this curiosity; of technology gone wrong;technology without ethics. “Accursed creator! Why do you form a monster so hideousthat even you turn away from me in disgust?” The monsters constant rhetoricquestioning addresses these ethics and illuminates the monster as a symbol of innocence in the face of corruption. Victor’s relationships also allow insight into themoral dilemma of creation. Victor’s positive family relationship is juxtaposed againsthis spite for the monster, a somewhat child of his. This represents the separation of emotion and technological progression and the dangers that accompany this. Thisillustrates the warning Shelley aimed her progressing society to heed.Similarly, the characterisation within ‘Blade Runner’ sheds light on the fragilerelationship between technology and emotion. Roy Batty – the product is in fact‘more human than human’ against the society that produced him; personified by theanti-her Deckard. As Roy releases a white dove upon his acceptance of imminent
Both Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner are texts that explore what it is to be human. Many parallels can be drawn between the two texts even though they are set some two hundred years apart. The texts present a view that questions the morality of science that progresses unchecked. Is this what is to become of our society? Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is set in the eighteenth century romantic period in Europe, whereas Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner is set in the futuristic twenty first century.
In both texts science and technology are explored and human identity is an important concept that is played out to a chilling end. Within Shelley’s novel, Victor Frankenstein plays God to the monster. While creating the creature he believed that what he was creating what was the best for humanity although his ideas began to change when he finally stood back and viewed his work. The viewing of the monster is a moral setback for Victor and he finally understands that “the being whom I had cast among mankind and endowed with the will and power to effect purposes of horror”.
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He is morally affected by the creation that he has cast upon society and realises his error of judgement when the creature he has created kills his younger brother. Victor feels responsible and is eventually consumed by this overwhelming sense of guilt and remorse. The creature that Frankenstein creates is an ‘abomination’ so repulsive to look upon as to cause horror. There is irony in this as Victor himself is internally consumed by an ugliness and revulsion, and he has created something that he cannot look at because of its external ugliness. Although on the inside the creature holds more human qualities than his creator.
The movie Blade Runner has parallels with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and is a modern day reproduction of sorts. The Tyrell Corporation creates the replicants (humanoid robots used as slaves), and this is where Tyrell, the head of the company plays God within Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”. He has created the replicants with no remorse or compassion and doesn’t see them as human beings. Much as Victor Frankenstein sees the creature. “She is an experiment nothing more. ”, is how Tyrell refers to Rachel, a replicant who is aware that she is a creation; “I’m not a part of the business… I am the business. during a conversation with Deckard, the protagonist, who is a ‘Blade Runner’ chosen to retire renegade replicants. The replicants within Blade Runner are beautiful and are considered perfect; within society no one would know who was a replicant and who wasn’t. They are as much human as the humans within the futuristic Los Angeles. There are subtle references to biblical themes in texts. Tyrell has created life in his own image, how he wanted them to be like, just like Victor did when he was creating the creature and how God did when he was forming Adam and Eve.
Until the creations begin to want in both texts, they question life and begin to gain more power and strength. You can’t have control over what you create because they have wants and needs of their own. The makers in both the texts lose control of their creations and this represents that man shouldn’t play god when they are unsure of the consequences. The setting of the ‘monster meeting maker’ scene is a comparison between the texts that the elevation of both meeting places in terms of maker and creation shows that closer to heaven link, and then the descent back to reality.
The scene on Mount Blanc within Frankenstein is where the mountain metaphor is determined. This parallels the scene within “Blade Runner” where as the camera guides us towards the ziggurat pyramid of the Tyrell Corporation in which houses the creator of the replicants; Tyrell. His connection to the heavens is further demonstrated through his ability to view the sun from his office, compared to the derelict cityscape, where the sun is totally blocked from view at all times. The scenes within the texts have a constant shifting of power balance.
Within Frankenstein, the shifting power balance between Victor and his creation is evident. The creation has come to tell his side of the story, whereas Victor doesn’t care and uses anger to become powerful over the creature. Comparing to Blade Runner, Roy sits as Tyrell glories in his creation; however, Roy despises his maker for what he has done and ironically seals his fate with a kiss. “Look at you the Prodigal Son… ” Both makers are ultimately destroyed by their creations. It references a new start for humanity as those who cross the line are sacrificed so humanity can learn a lesson.
Both Mary Shelley and Ridley Scott have created confusion among the audience by exploring the humanity within the societies. The audience begin to question who the ‘real’ monster is and who has the most humanity within the story. Within Shelley’s novel, the creature displays more humanity than Victor when he begs for another creation to be made. “Oh! My creator, make me happy; let me feel gratitude towards you for one benefit! ” We first question Victor’s humanity when he ruins the second creature he has made. …I almost felt as if I had mangled the living flesh of a human being. ” Also when Walton finds the creature crying over Victor and we question why? He killed Victor’s family and Victor died because of the guilt of the creature. Victor was the modern Prometheus and was punished throughout his life with guilt and torture. This allows us to link the theme of what it means to be human and causes us to question our own humanity and morality. Scott’s text uses different language techniques to raise the question about what it means to be human and who are the most humane?
The humans within the film are referred to by their second names whilst the replicants are referred to by their Christian name, representative of the relationship between a servant and their master. Throughout the film the replicants show more emotions and human qualities than the humans themselves. When Pris is killed, Roy shows that he loves her by crying and kissing her when he discovers her body and shows anger towards Deckard for killing Pris and Zhora when he breaks his fingers. “This is for Zhora…This is for Pris” If they were not humans how could they have fallen in love?
Could it be that they have become more human than the humans themselves, who are so ready to kill the replicants and ruin their lives? The replicants have more compassion than the humans, the same for the creature who cries over his dead creator. The ‘monsters’ act like humans; the humans act like monsters. The question of humanity is a large theme within the texts and this runs very closely to the themes and ideas of playing god that are expressed in the texts. There are many small links to God; just like God, within
Frankenstein, Victor was the only one who knew how he could create life, just like god did when he was creating Adam and Eve, “Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam”. He didn’t share his secret with anyone. In “Scott’s film, Roy has a nail through this hand when he is fighting with Deckard at the ending of the film. This represents Jesus dying on the cross. The ‘gods’ created a creature they believed would be perfect but just like Adam and Eve, the creature and the replicants were not perfect and went against their creators.
The Gods have lost ‘control’. The God complex is evident as it is man’s desire to create life, although it is the creatures desire to become human. Although Shelley and Scott’s texts are set in strikingly different landscapes and several centuries apart they are both questioning the role of creator and man’s right to this role. The societies they both represent are separated by a vast expanse of time but are they so dissimilar? They show the failings of humanity and also the moral dilemma, which is caused by delving into God’s power of creation.