Bladerunner 2 Essay, Research Paper
The movie Bladerunner, directed by Ridley Scott, deals with the issues of technology, humanity and identity. What it is to be human, the thin line between humans and Replicants and the advancement of technology are all ideas raised in the movie. In this segment, these issues are highlighted by the filmaker’s use of lighting, sound and camera shots.
In the shots of the exterior of the Tyrell building and Deckard flying towards it, the music gradually grows louder till it swells and becomes dynamic. This is matched with the brilliance in the colouring of the sky and also in the complexity and size of the Tyrell building. A version of the synthesised main musical theme can be heard, though sounding optimistic and hopeful this time instead of mysterious and unpredictable as in the opening shots. The feeling of ascension is very stong in the scene. The music, aided by the camera’s slow tilt upwards, creates the allusion that Deckard is traveling higher, rising up towards heaven perhaps, as this later ties in with Tyrell being a God-like figure.
Once Deckard is inside, the loud dynamic music changes to the sound of windchimes. The soft ringing sounds are a contrast to the music that is heard as he is approaching. This change in sound is also a contrast to the noise and bustle of the streets, which represents the masses. It enforces the idea that Eldon Tyrell and his corporation are powerful, that they are physically and socially above the ‘little people’ who live below. The impression of holiness from the ringing sounds and echos as well as the vast amount of space, again raises the idea that Tyrell is God-like, with his office being compared to heaven.
The lighting used at the beginning of this sequence also adds to the heavenly feel of Tyrell’s office. The fiery sky with the blazing sunlight is one of the few bright scenes in the movie. Most of Bladerunner consists of dark and wet scene which ties in with its film noir genre. The non-conformity of this scene suggests Tyrell’s office is detached from the rest of the city. That Tyrell himself is above the dirt and rain below, having little contact with the streets beneath, which are where his creations, the Replicants try to survive. This suggests that the Relicants are closer to being human as they exist with ‘real people’ as opposed to Tyrell who lives away from them. The distance Tyrell displays from humans, enhanced by the flight upwards to his office, is a metaphor for his lack of emotion and morality which is evident in this scene. This makes him seem less human than the Replicants, who are capable of feeling complex emotions. The flickering of water reflections on the walls in Tyrell’s office symbolise purity and cleaniness, another contrast with the world below.
After the blind was drawn over the window, a completely different atmosphere is created. In the low lighting, Deckard and Rachael’s faces are mostly in shadow. A streak of light enhances some of Deckard’s features while highlighting Rachael’s cigarette smoke. The emphasis placed on the smoke implies that there is some mystery associated with Rachael as she is mostly hidden behind the haze of smoke. The shadows also emphasise her eyes which glow, like the artificial owl’s, suggesting Rachael may be a replicant before it is directly revealed. This relates to the issue of the differences between human and Replicant, that only in the eyes can the distinction be made. The focus on Rachael’s eyes and also on Tyrell’s reflective glasses, which draw attention to his eyes, are part of the eye motif that is present throughout Bladerunner. Eyes, which reveal emotion, remind the audience that the Replicants do have feelings. Also, the fact that Tyrell’s eyes are masked by his glasses further suggests his lack of feeling.
The camera shots used in this segment aid in highlighting the issues of the movie. When Rachael is asking Deckard her ‘personal question’, he is seated, with the camera at a low angle, looking up at her. This is helps add to the audience’s first impression of Rachael. She seems in perfect control of the situation, more powerful than Deckard and detached towards him. Only later do we see her afraid, uncertain and vulnerable. Compared to Tyrell, Rachael is a much more likeable character. Her response “is this testing whether I’m a Replicant or a lesbian” add humour to the scene. Rachael displays human qualities unlike her maker, Tyrell, who is cold and unfeeling in contrast.
Towards the end of the segment, there are low angle shots of Deckard looking up, but this time at Tyrell. The filmaker is highlighting Tyrell’s position of power. He is telling Deckard about ‘gifting them’, the Replicants, with ‘a past’, an example of his power, being able to alter memories. This relates to the issue of technology in the movie. It has advanced so much that it can mimic human qualities, adding to the blurring between human and non-human. In Bladerunner, questions arise as to whether the advancement of technology has gone too far.
The issues of being human and also technology are brought up when the Voigt-Kampff machine is seen in close-up. It highlights the lack of distinction between the humans and Replicants. Only a machine, technology, is able to distinguish between the two.
Fading between long shots and close ups was used to show the passing of time while Rachael was taking the VK test. Variations in the volume of Deckard’s voice as well as detached sections of conversation reinforced this. A long period of time was needed in the scene to highlight the difficulty in distinguishing Rachael as a Replicant.
These techniques are used by the filmaker to reinforce the issues of the movie. Identity, humanity and technology are the ideas which this segment highlights. Camera shots, sound and the use of lighting all combine in making this an important part of Bladerunner by exploring the themes and issues raised by the plot.