Perfect Frankenstein + Blade Runner Essay
The texts, Frankenstein and Blade Runner reflect changing contextual values; however the treatment of content remains the same. Mary Shelley’s didactic Frankenstein published in 1818 centres on scientific advancement of the Industrial Revolution, as presented through a consolidation of Gothic and Romantic elements in response to the shifting paradigms of the Enlightenment Age. Similarly, Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott in 1982, transforms the notions of Frankenstein to position its postmodern audience to consider the negative ramifications of the Cold War and the rise of capitalism. These contextual ideas will be explored through the thematic concerns pertaining specifically to the destructive potential of abusing scientific power, the flawed responsibility of man as creator and the nature of humanity. Indeed, Blade Runner is a realisation of the sublime warnings highlighted by Shelley’s Frankenstein in 1818. Destructive potential of abusing scientific power
Frankenstein highlights the destructive potential of abusing science through overpowering human morality and provoking irresponsibility. The 18th Century Age of Enlightenment was a social movement where logic and reason was advocated as the primary source of authority, characterised by scientific advancements such as Galvani’s concept of electricity as a reanimating force and theorists such as Erasmus Darwin. Hence, Walton’s metaphor, influenced by Age of Enlightenment, “What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?” is mantric for both Walton and Frankenstein who display a “thirst for knowledge” in their respective scientific quests. The metaphor and symbol of “eternal light” represents the mysteries the pair wish to uncover and accompanied with rhetorical question it reflects the optimism of society embracing the Age of Enlightenment. However, the irrevocable consequences of abusing scientific power is highlighted when Frankenstein says, ““All my speculations and hopes are as nothing, and like the archangel who aspired to omnipotence, I am chained to an eternal hell.” as he is tormented by the “filthy daemon” he creates; a monster “even Dante could not have conceived.” The allusions to John Milton’s Paradise Lost and Dante Alighieri’s Inferno through metaphor and simile emphasises the destructive potential of abusing scientific power as Frankenstein’s environment decays into hell. This caution of the destructive potential of abusing science is realised in Blade Runner through Scott’s mise-en-scene of the dystopian urban wasteland of 2019 Los Angeles, emphasising the destruction of the natural environment as a result of the Cold War’s nuclear threat and rise of consumerism. In the opening sequence, the slow-panning panorama shot, under chiaroscuro lighting, captures a hellish megalopolis with huge smokestacks spewing fire into the atmosphere and large pagan corporate edifices towering over the city. This disorienting imagery is coalesced with violent, non-diegetic sounds and visuals of constant rain, symbolizing concerns of acidic rain and the burning of the environment. Hence, Scott’s utilization of futuristic “film noir” cinematography establishes a grim, claustrophobic environment that is completely devoid of the natural world. By depicting such dystopia and understanding contextual concerns such as the capitalist deregulation and the ‘trickle down’ theory of Reagan’s era, Scott applies Shelley’s “Promethean” motif to caution viewers about the potential environmental dangers of abusing modern technology and nuclear warfare, which were widespread social concerns at the time due to the climax of the Cold War.
Flawed responsibility of men as creator
Frankenstein highlights how unrestrained science undermines man’s responsibility as creator. Shelley’s era was a time of religious revival where philosophers such as Kierkegaard asserted spirituality was more than “objective appearance” and demanded...
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