Blade Runner Film and Game Narrative Analysis

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ASSESSMENT 1: RESEARCH ESSAY
BY BLAKE SIMPSON, 108365

"Campbell’s analysis is a combination of myth and fable, psychoanalysis and comparative theology. Throughout his writings, he dwells more in the psychological and spiritual meanings of myth than in the aspect of strict storytelling. The stages of his Hero’s Journey, however, are easily adapted to modern storytelling in movies and perhaps in games" [1]

Christopher Vogler in The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters, adapting his paradigm from Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces and Vladimir Propp's Morphology of the Folktale [2], makes claim that 'all stories consist of a few common structural elements found universally in myths, fairy tales, dreams and movies' [3]. Syd Field, author of The Screen Writer's Workbook [4], also outlined a paradigm that most screenplays follow comprising a three-act structure: Setup, Confrontation and Resolution. His model uses plot points, often called reversals: Events that push plot on a new trajectory, signaling transition between acts. In combination, Field's three acts and Vogler's hero's journey becomes a consistent tool for narrative analysis by deconstruction: "The familiarity of archetypal narrative frameworks such as the three act structure or the hero’s journey is such that they can be drawn upon without the need for extensive elaboration in any particular manifestation. The notion of a central character being sent off on a quest... usually involving a shift out of more recognizably everyday routines, is sufficiently well-established as a narrative convention" [5]

Adapted from Philip Dick's 1968 novel, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Ridley Scott's 1982 Cyberpunk film Blade Runner can be successfully deconstructed according to these combined literary paradigms with reference made to the conventions of 'Film Noir'. Similar can be said for Westwood Studios' 1997 Blade Runner PC game: An adventure game in which gameplay constructs plot through interaction and is limited to a guided narrative experience that parallels the film whilst introducing new characters and perspectives. Outlining events and archetypes correspond to these paradigms, this essay will analyze and provide comparison between these Blade Runner texts. Different versions of the film exist and the game has multiple endings - allowing separate inferable narratives. This analysis will use the 1992 'Director's Cut' film and a specific play through of the game, where the protagonist remains unsympathetic towards the proposed antagonists, for synchronicity with the above paradigms. As well as the role of interaction, the role of alternate endings for the game will also be discussed.

"Techno-oriental imagery and terminology was most strikingly present in the near-future settings of cyberpunk narratives, which emerged in the 80's and spanned a variety of media. One example is Blade Runner" [6]

"Early in the 21st Century, the TYRELL CORPORATION advanced Robot evolution into the Nexus phase – a being virtually identical to a human – known as a Replicant. The NEXUS-6 Replicants were superior in strength and agility, and at least equal in intelligence, to the genetic engineers who created them. Replicants were used Off-world as slave labor, in the hazardous exploration and colonization of other planets. After a bloody mutiny by a NEXUS-6 combat team in an Off-world colony, Replicants were declared illegal on Earth – under penalty of death. Special police squads – BLADE RUNNER UNITS – had orders to shoot to kill, upon detection, any trespassing Replicants. This was not called execution. It was called retirement" [7]

Both texts begin act one with the above marquee followed by a display of Los Angeles, year 2019. Introducing terminology used within and highlighting elements of bias integral to underlying morals, the marquee augments this ordinary world and is part of Field's 'setup'. Referring to replicants...
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