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Kira Moore

How far does ‘Blade Runner’ reflect the auteur signature features of Ridley Scott?
To discuss how far ‘Blade Runner’ reflects the auteurial features of Ridley Scott it must first
be determined what features these are and whether they span across a lot of Ridley Scott’s
films.
Aesthetically, the auteurial features of Ridley Scott are generally dark. Often there is
incorporation of water falling. In ‘Blade Runner’ this is rain. In ‘Alien’ this is clearly seen in the
ships engine room. Some form of coolant pipe is leaking throughout the scene where Ripley
first comes face to face with the xenomorph. Again, this is seen in ‘The Martian’ through the
irrigation system Mark devises. These aesthetics are not only a reflection Scott’s personal
style but also of him as a person. The rain and water references link to the place where he
grew up. It was in the North of the UK (the county of Durham) and it rained a lot. Hence
‘Blade Runner’ begins to reflect Ridley Scott’s auteurial style.
Another key aesthetic quality is the constant background noise, constant movement through
the mise-en-scene in every shot and sweeping lights. Scott’s films are, in my opinion, very
alive. In ‘Blade Runner’ this is clearly reflected in the ‘Hotel Scene’. There is the constant
sound of the blimp passing overhead as well as the sweeping spotlights from it. In various
scenes inside as well, a sweeping spotlight passes by a window. From the very opening
there is movement and sound with the chimneys blowing smoke. If we compare this to the
various point of lighting and sound in the ship from ‘Alien’ there is a direct correlation
suggesting and auteurial influence. The diegetic sounds from the blimp in ‘Blade Runner’
and the constant diegetic hum of engines in ‘Alien’ are incredibly similar showing the
reflection of the auteurial style.
To take a deeper look at Scott as an Auteur we have to understand his past and his motives.
There is no doubt that ‘Blade Runner’ is one of the most personal films to Ridley Scott. This
was the first project he completed after his brother lost his battle with cancer. It is arguable
that, as a result of this, ‘Blade Runner’ reflects the emotions Scott had at the time. This is
supported by the theme of mortality explored with the Replicants only having a four year life
span. The very end scene shows two men at the end of their journey with each other. It is
dark, it is raining and after a long fight one of them accepts their death (Roy). This clearly
reflects Ridley Scott’s journey with his brother. Deckard here reflecting Scott’s
powerlessness to save his brother. So, here we see the first hints to Scott’s influence as an
auteur.
The theme of mortality also comes into several of his other works like ‘Alien’ and ‘The
Martian’. Both of these are a struggle for survival where there is only one person left alive.
Roy is the only Replicant left, Ripley is the only crew member left and Mark is the only
human on Mars. However, in these the lone survivor lives but in ‘Blade Runner’ Roy doesn’t.
This is likely due to the Film Noir stylisation whereby there isn’t a happy ending or a clear
protagonist by the end. It is inherently dark and unsettling with a clear moral corruption being
explored. Film Noir was meant to offset the optimism of Hollywood in the 1940s and hence
they didn’t have happy fairy-tale endings. So, while mortality is a theme reflective of Scott as
an auteur, it also plays into the Film Noir influences in ‘Blade Runner’ in particular.
Another way Scott’s personal style and influences are reflected in ‘Blade Runner’ is through
the ending sequence. This is a sequence that was written as an alternative ending for
Kubrick’s ‘The Shining’. Scott is a fan of Kubrick not only for his work but for the complete
stylistic control he got over his films. Scott was restricted as he works in a studio
environment where it is the producers who have the last say. So, when the opportunity
presented itself, he copied work from him or at the very least took inspiration from it. This
Kira Moore

aspiration for complete stylistic control also shows in ‘Blade Runner 2049’. The original
opening written for the original ‘Blade Runner’ that was cut because the producers thought it
would be confusing is the same opening for the new ‘Blade Runner 2049’. Scott wanted that
opening and eventually he got it. Hence his personal influence being reflected in ‘Blade
Runner’.
The dystopian future is also a world that Scott likes to explore. This is reflected in many of
his films such as, ‘Equals’, ‘Alien’, ‘Blade Runner’ and, to a certain extent ‘The Martian’. All
show the danger of advanced technology and explore what it means to be human. In ‘Blade
Runner’ and ‘Blade Runner 2049’ this is the technology allowing Replicants to be made and
what it would take to make them human. In ‘2049’ this is especially potent as it comes to life
the protagonist is actually a Replicant but doesn’t know it. In ‘Blade Runner’ this is more
through Rachel. The answer here is that to be human you have to have memories and
emotions. In ‘Alien’ it explores the dangers of genetically engineered predators. In ‘Equals’ it
explores the oppressive empire and how, for true equality, there must be no emotion. But
also how to be human there must be emotion.
However, not all of Ridley Scott’s films or works reflect this clearly his influence as an auteur.
For example, the film ‘Concussion’ is strikingly dissimilar to the likes of Scott’s other works I
have mentioned. Both aesthetically and thematically. Hence the argument against auteur
theory comes in however I think the overwhelming majority of Scott’s films clearly show his
personal stylisation and approach and, in turn, his ‘signature features’ as an auteur.
So, overall, ‘Blade Runner’ reflects clearly both Scott’s influence as an auteur purposefully
through the aesthetic elements, but also that which is perhaps a more subconscious
influence from him, the themes. His own struggle after his brother’s death channelled into a
cinematic masterpiece.

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