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“Why is it that Frankenstein and Blade Runner present similar perspectives to

humanities use of technology despite being composed more than 150 years
apart?” in your response make detailed response to both texts.

The desire for social progression has always shrouded society. Both Mary Shelley’s
Frankenstein (1818) and Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982) were produced during
eras of technological exploration. Through depicting technology breeching moral
boundaries through context, characterisation and intertextuality, both Scott and
Shelley highlight the dangers of progression with the absence of ethical emotion – a
timeless social issues which binds these two texts.

Written during the industrial revolution and the emerging era of existentialism and
exploration – Shelley’s Frankenstein can be interpreted as a warning to the
technologically curious. This curious nature is personified throughout the protagonist
Victor Frankenstein, who tragically falls victim to experimentation without
boundaries. This was an attempt to forshadow the potential dangers of unmonitored
technological advancements. To reiterate this sentiment, Shelley also aimed to to
stress the divinity of nature in the face of technological dominance through elements
of Romanticism. “The weight upon my shoulders was sensibly lightened as I plunged
yet deeper into the ravine” emotive imagery highlights the cleansing effect of the
environment, juxtaposed against the oppressive nature of the technologically
advanced city.

This idea of negatively depicting technologic dominance is similarly illuminated by


Scott. To emphasise the age of globalisation, consumerism, corporate domination and
commercialism, Scott has intended the dystopian setting of P.A. 2019 to represent our
potential existence should we let technology get out of control. The establishing
panoramic long shot of industrial columns spewing fire against the eternally dark
horizon generated fear for what our society might come to be. The majestic ziggurats
of the Tyrell Corporation loom over the city squalor – a visual metaphor for
technology’s domination over society and the resulting negative impact. It is clear that
Scott had intended Blade Runner to be a warning of our own progressive drive as a
society.

Shelley has characterised Victor and the Monster as elements of this technological
progression. Victor represents society intent on pushing the boundaries and the
monster represents the product of this curiosity; of technology gone wrong;
technology without ethics. “Accursed creator! Why do you form a monster so hideous
that even you turn away from me in disgust?” The monsters constant rhetoric
questioning addresses these ethics and illuminates the monster as a symbol of
innocence in the face of corruption. Victor’s relationships also allow insight into the
moral dilemma of creation. Victor’s positive family relationship is juxtaposed against
his spite for the monster, a somewhat child of his. This represents the separation of
emotion and technological progression and the dangers that accompany this. This
illustrates the warning Shelley aimed her progressing society to heed.

Similarly, the characterisation within ‘Blade Runner’ sheds light on the fragile
relationship between technology and emotion. Roy Batty – the product is in fact
‘more human than human’ against the society that produced him; personified by the
anti-her Deckard. As Roy releases a white dove upon his acceptance of imminent
death it is evident that he acknowledges himself as a sad product of technological
curiosity. A low angle shot of Roy bathed in ethereal light juxtaposes the high angle
shot of Deckard; vulnerable and struggling for salvation. And in an act of emotional
superiority, the technologically made Roy saves the maker or personification of
society. This second chance to human existence still echoes strong warnings regarding
unheeded technological exploration.

To illuminate that this fear of creation without ethics is timeless, Shelley has included
an excerpt from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. “Did I ask thy maker mould me man?”
this intertextuality conveys the topic’s biblical roots. The concept of challenging
god’s role is reinforced within Shelley’s original introduction. “Frightful would be the
effect if any individual should mock the stupendous mechanisms of the creator of the
world”. It is evident that Shelley aims to generate audience awareness to current
social and technical antics.

Scott also employs intertextuality to add depth to the underlying concept. By


depicting Zhora as Christ, slowing down the frames and overlaying smooth non-
diegetic jazz misc, Scott generates audience empathy despite Zhora simply being a
technological product. This biblical allusion and emotive filming acknowledge the
blurred boundaries between real and artificial emotion. Reiterating this is the partial
stigmata of Roy as he feels the pains of life and ultimately sacrifices himself for
humanity. These allusions give insight into the timeless ethical debate over creation
that still ravages technological progression today.

As both Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’ were created
during times of technological advancement, both texts illuminate the danger of this
dominance through context and characterisation. Intertextuality highlights that this
has been and will always be a prevalent and controversial issue within human
existence.

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