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Ridley Scott's landmark noir science fiction classic 'Blade Runner'

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BLADE RUNNER CRITICAL ESSAY Ridley Scott's landmark noir science fiction classic 'Blade Runner' (1982) is a showcase of effective construction of mood through a combination of key on-screen imagery, including unique mise-en-sc´┐Żne, and elements of the film's soundtrack. Each element is not only effective in its own right, but also contributes to the film's themes, most notably its exploration of immortality and what it means to be human. Scott's adaptation of Philip K Dick's short story "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" into 'Blade Runner' was uncompromising in its commitment to exploring difficult existential questions about the essence of humanity and individual identity, using the unique advantages that the medium of film provides. 'Blade Runner' follows the struggle of a group of replicants, or artificial human beings, to find and meet with their creator in order to ask for "more life," as their leader (Batty) puts it, because their life spans are limited to four years by design. The replicants are neither pleased by this limitation, nor their status as slaves to the human race, and stage a bloody offworld revolt which leads to their presence being banned on Earth, on penalty of death. ...read more.


Reportedly, Frederic Chopin's trademark melancholy nocturnes inspired Vangelis; this music was a major influence in setting the tone of the film from the opening to the closing scenes. Chopin's influence can also be heard in the music that replicant Rachael plays on her piano during the film, possibly suggesting that organic music, such as the piano, is more human than synthesizer music. Vangelis' score further illustrates its innovative skill during a scene in which Deckard chases and kills one of the replicants, Zhora, by shooting her in the back, the vivid image of her clear plastic mackintosh covered in blood evokes feeling of shock and horror as this is the first time you 'see' replicants blood, thus affirming their humanity. Vangelis' contrapuntal orchestration, combined with an almost overloud haunting saxophone solo, contributes to the tension of this disturbing execution sequence. The existential questions of the story, most notably what it means to be human, what distinguishes replicants from humans, are reinforced by Scott's savvy use of symbolic visual elements. Part of the answer suggested in 'Blade Runner' is that these questions are heavily dependent on point of view and the experience of visual memory. ...read more.


This is contrasted with Deckard's inhuman mission to kill them, and Tyrell's chilling attempt to convince the replicants to simply "revel in your time" instead of fighting their own mortality. The irony, of course, is that humans fight the inevitable in the same futile ways; their creator, whoever it/she/he may be, has simply programmed a longer lifespan into humanity but death is as much a certainty for humans as it is replicants. Threading the motif of the eye through to its tragic conclusion, Scott depicts a horrific scene in which Batty shatters Tyrell's glasses and gouges out his eyes as revenge for the existential horror Tyrell has fated for the replicants. Scott explores some of the most profound questions of our time - our search for our creator, our mortality, what it means to be human, and whether simply accumulating experiences and memories is enough to create a soul, whether human or replicant. He is hardly the first filmmaker or auteur to do so, but what is unique about 'Blade Runner' is how Scott brilliantly utilizes both visual and auditory components to explore these themes. ...read more.

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