Science Fiction films are concerned with the dangers rather than the benefits of science and technology. Discuss one or two Science Fiction films which explore this theme and its implications
Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” illustrates the fact that Science Fiction films are frequently concerned with the dangers rather than the benefits of science and technology. Released in 1982, “Blade Runner” conveys to its audience a frightening and nightmarish vision of a dystopian technological future society. The film is set in post-apocalyptic Los Angeles in the year 2019. It is a world enveloped in a putrid atmosphere of darkness, gloom and corruption. Fallout from the recent nuclear holocaust, suggested by frequent explosive effects in the opening sequence, has blotted out the sun and acid rain perpetually descends. Through its delineation and portrayal of three scientists, “Blade Runner” explores the dehumanizing effects of technology, together with the potential exploitation of science for the purpose of achieving a God-like omnipotence and political dominance in society.
The opening text of “Blade Runner” provides the background to the film’s plot. It outlines the origins of the NEXUS replicants and alludes to the genetic engineers who created them. As their name suggests, replicants were designed to replicate human beings so precisely as to be virtually indistinguishable from them. However, replicants are supposedly bereft of emotion and are limited to a four year life span. In the opening text, the Tyrell Corporation is identified, together with its role in perfecting replicant technology. Replicants were designed and created to be used as slave labour in the off-world colonies. However, some mutinied and were banned from returning to earth, for which the punishment is death. The film’s plot is primarily centred upon the character of Rick Deckard, a member of the special Blade Runner squads which have been specifically established to identify and kill or “retire” trespassing replicants. The mutinying replicants, lead by Roy Batty, are on a determined quest to uncover the secret of their creation and thus a way of expanding their limited life span, since all are on the verge of death.
There are three scientists in the film, parodying the Holy Trinity of The Bible and indicative of the idea that the scientist is the new God of the technological age. Tyrell is the most important of the three scientists and clearly emerges as the most powerful individual in the post-apocalyptic world of the film. Tyrell is the all-knowing, all-powerful president of the Tyrell Corporation, the company responsible for the design and manufacture of replicants employed as slaves in the off-world colonies. Thus usurping the knowledge and power of God, the scientist has emerged as the new supreme power of the technological age. As the scientist, Chu, points out, Tyrell is the “big boss”, the “big genius.” Tyrell “knows everything.” He is the “god of biomechanics” Indeed, the scientist is revealed to be attempting to perfect God’s original creation, as the motto of the Tyrell Corporation, "More human than human,” clearly indicates.
It is highly significant that is only from the high vantage point of Tyrell’s temple-like edifice that the sun is, at least, partially visible. The implication is that, in a world without the sun and its life-giving properties, the scientist is the new creator of life. This idea can be taken a step further, since it is the use of science and technology for destructive purposes and for the quest of world domination which has resulted in the corruption of the earth and its failed capacity to receive the light and warmth of the sun. Thus a common, long-standing fear has finally materialized: the scientist has succeeded in usurping all power over life and death. Consequently, the scientist has asserted himself as the supreme God of creation. Moreover, science and technology, which are at the very...