21 Dec 2011

Sample Essay: The Blade Runner

Having heard about Blade Runner as a classic in it own right, I had high expectation from the science fiction/dystopian film featuring Harrison Ford directed by celebrated director Ridley Scott. It promised to be action packed, visually stunning and adventurous in terms of plot, narrative structure and animation effects. A good movie, for me, means integrity of vision, empathetic narration, and realism within the plot’s determining genre, i.e. the story must be believable within the definition of the genre it belongs to. I will analyze my experiences with this movie based on the above mentioned criteria.

Blade Runner, 1982, directed by Ridley Scott, is based on the Philip K. Dick science fiction novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The dystopian theme played out in the movie, set in a futuristic Los Angeles, makes the location apt because the complexity and interpenetration of living surfaces, work spaces and general infrastructure present a complex setting suited to the idea of the plot (Bukatman, S., 2008).

The moral dilemma which is central to the dystopian post human epoch visualized in the movie allows for the actors to bring a range of human emotions through suggestive placement, timing, behavioral traits and locale in the film (Bukatman, S., 2008). Jordan Cronenweth does a spectacular job with the cinematography given that the topography and the method used to unravel the plot is one rife with visual challenges. The way a futuristic dislocation is established in a book may be a matter of verbal descriptions, but to signify this information visually is a matter of using the appropriate symbols in the right combinations of action.

The background shots shows a futurist Los Angeles landscape further nuanced by sets which create two parallel levels of urban existence; the lower part of the city is dangerous, and is occupied by the poor, the underprivileged and the replicants who are mere slaves to the rich class, who live above (Bukatman, S., 2008). The placement of the higher classes above the lower classes is stratified, and made more diverse by establishing a variety of heterogeneous cityscapes. This lack of centralization, seeming to rejecting cinematically the idea of location by creating diverse spots of action which are all part of a conceptual unity delivered on the promise for visual and narrative brilliance.

The film succeeds spectacularly within the coordinates of film noir for its path breaking visual and auditory effects. The thematic integrity of dystopia is maintained to great effect and director’s vision stands vindicated by its cult status. With literary fidelity in mind however we will have to concede with calling it a considerably successful adaptation. The integration of necessary elements from the book, by way of futuristic sets, and great editing and visual effects made the story come alive.

Harrison Ford as Decard does a commendable job, displaying a range of emotional expressivity; from the tender suggestion romance with his robot colleague to the final dilemma trying to confront his own existential dilemma. The layers of meaning are further developed by showing how the upper class is subjecting humanoids to slavery and hints at the question of race, identity and human dignity by suggesting that man is defined by the role he plays in society (Bukatman, S., 2008). Consequently, can someone who is fixed to the performance of his duty with no scope for his personal emotional development be called human?

Thus this film delivers on all my criteria, and I am at liberty to say this film worked for me. Because it satisfied my experience with the things I was looking for, namely action, integrity and visual effects way ahead of its time.

Works Cited

Bukatman, S., Blade Runner; BFI Modern Classics. British Film Institute, 2008.

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