Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Ridley Scott's Blade Runner

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A deeper understanding of disruption and identity emerges from considering the parallels between Frankenstein and Blade Runner. Compare how these texts explore disruption and identity.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner draw from their context in order to offer insight into the disruption and identity. Disruption in these texts can be obsession, pursuit of knowledge and the price of progress. Aspects covered that relate to identity are humanity, what makes us human, responsibility and the relationship between the creator and created and how that can affect all aspects of our lives. Whilst Frankenstein addresses the possibilities of progress, obsession and humanity, Blade Runner presents us with the outcomes and how this disrupts our identity.

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, there is a warning against value being placed obsessively on the pursuit of knowledge, progress and power. It is against anything natural and disrupts the natural world. Mary Shelley uses scientific developments of the late 18th century as a catalyst to reflect the consequences of an obsession with knowledge and the power associated with it. During the late 18th century, the “first robot”, a mechanical duck, was built and bodies of late people were being experimented on. This is clearly reflected in her novel Frankenstein. Victor’s justification for making the Creature was that “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and a torrent of light into our dark world.” Victor’s disruptive obsession was evident when he created the Creature as “the moon gazed on my midnight labours”. This resulted with Victor seeming “to have lost all soul and sensation apart from this one pursuit”. The use of first person narrative helps the reader to personalise this eccentric obsession and understand why certain choices were made. Robert Walton is obsessed with being the first man to reach the North Pole and will risk everyone’s lives in doing so. This can be seen as the main warning of the whole novel. The Romantic Period was a time when many were excited about the possibilities of emerging science and knowledge while others were concerned about the potential to undermine important human values. This is evident in Frankenstein through Shelley’s fascination with the potential of science, yet concern for the outcomes. In Frankenstein’s case, he lost everyone that he loved, his own life, and ultimately the Creature’s. Frankenstein and the Creature were both “lonely and miserable”. This disruption and unnatural obsession is the price of progress when pursued without moral or ethical consideration.

Furthermore, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner also warns us about the obsessive pursuit of knowledge, progress and power and how that can disrupt society. Whilst Shelley suggests the possibilities, Scott provides the consequences of those possibilities. In the 1980’s, there was a new awareness to how humanity affected the environment and the ethical consideration that needed to be measured when progressing. IVF, organ transplants and stem cell research were the new ‘thing’. This is linked to the establishing shot of the film. High rise buildings, a dense layer of smoke and cloud, no natural environment and the foreboding colours of the overcrowded city clearly determine Scott’s concern for these technological advancements. This relates to the fear of nuclear weapons in the 1980’s. In addition, the looming and menacing figure depicted by Gaff is dark, disconnected and intimidating. Everything that they humans are in 2019. This disturbing prediction of the world in 2019 shows a disrupted world that is irreversibly ruined.

As film-noir genre is clarified with the scenes portraying a world of murky streets of crime and corruption. The prevailing idea, Tyrell’s obsession, is made clear that “Commerce is our goal” and it shows the audience that this world of 2019 is consumer driven. There is no distinction between the...
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