To what extent do Blade Runner (US 1982) and The Matrix (US 1999) make the use of film noir features and techniques
To what extent do “Blade Runner” (US 1982) and “The Matrix” (US 1999) make the use of film noir features and techniques
“The Matrix” has a main science fiction theme but also includes features of film noir films. It is directed and written by Andy and Larry Wachowski. Other than Science Fiction and film noir the film can also be classed as a Hybrid.
“Blade Runner” is more of a film noir film than “The Matrix”. Although it does include action and fighting scenes but these have film noir features in them. Most ideas about the film are connected with film noir such as the mystery, the low key lighting and symbolic objects. It was directed by Ridley Scott and written by Phillip K. Dick, Hampton Fancher and David Webb Peoples.
The main characters in “The Matrix” are Laurence Fishburne as Morpheus, Keanu Reeves as Thomas A. Anderson or Neo and Carry-Anne Moss as Trinity. In Blade Runner the main characters were Harrison Ford as Rick Deckard, Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty and Sean Young as Rachael.
Film noir comes from the French term, ‘A Black Film’ or a ‘Dark Film’. It was noticed in America during the forties and fifties by a French film critic who saw how quite a lot of films made had dark looks and themes. These appeared to be mainly in American Crime and Detective films released during World War 2.
Typical features of film noir include feelings of fatalistic pessimism, incidents of treachery, and a sense of a corrupt and violent society threatening the hero and other hero – like characters. Other features are darkness, secretive and mysterious people and mystery. A reason for the low lighting in film noir films is that in Hollywood studios, after the war they could not afford expensive lighting equipment so they made the films with dark themes. Another feature of film noir films is that they include femme fatale characters which are normally strong and use their appearance as a weapon. “The Matrix” and “Blade Runner” both include strong female characters. In “Blade Runner” the strong female characters are Rachael and Zhora and in “The Matrix” it is Trinity. Audiences demand strong characters because it is like a role – reversal, in most films men are the hero and leading characters, which makes it unusual for women to be strong and powerful. The world war influenced film makers to make films which had strong female characters to encourage women and make them feel appreciated for all of the jobs that they were doing during the war whilst men were on the battlefields.
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In “Blade Runner” the main character, Deckard, is an ex-policeman and ex-blade runner. He is found and reassigned as a blade runner to find some rogue replicants who have gone ‘On the run’. In “The Matrix” the main character Thomas A. Anderson is found by a group of people who have found out that he is ‘the one’ who will stop “The Matrix”, he is bought in to ‘The real world’ to stop agents and make the world ‘right’.
I feel that in “Blade Runner” the main issues and ideas that the film considers are that the society in the future is very separated and there are no longer family structures, also that ‘real’ is a difficult term to understand as there are replicants in their time and they are made to look, act and seem to everyone that they are ‘real’ but in fact they are just machine. In “The Matrix” I feel that the idea is similar about things being ‘real’ as people are in “The Matrix” and this is what is making every one think that they may be eating or touching something when in fact they are not, also that the world that you see around you may not be the world that really ‘exists’.
By Michael Skuse 10Wi2
Both films use film noir features differently and use different amounts of features. “Blade Runner” uses film noir features such as low key lighting the film also uses chiaroscuro effects such as when Rachel first enters Deckard’s room her feelings and thoughts are hidden from the audience because they cannot see her face very well and cannot see her reactions the situation. The film uses this well to make Rachel more mysterious and hidden, Deckard in “Blade Runner” is the main investigating character who is searching for something or someone and is also trying to find out things about himself and is finding more and more things out about life in general not just about his ‘mission’.
The film uses symbolic objects such as glasses and mirrors to hide reality and disguise objects, for example glasses are used on people such as the replicants and Tyrell to disguise the eyes as the eyes in the film are meant to be the window to the soul and glasses obscure this and hide ‘their soul’. This is used well in the film as one of the ideas of the film is that people are mysterious and hide things and symbolic objects help this idea, The film is set in a big city in the future therefore it is crowded and busy with people everywhere, generally in cities there is a lot of crime and also skyscrapers which tower over the streets below and block sunlight out these are enforced greatly in the film. As it is in the future and in a city pollution and global warming has had a big effect on the world, Costume, Rachel who is the femme fatal in the film dresses in a 1940’s fashion including her hair style and accessory’s – cigarette. This is used in the film to show that she can ‘seduce’ people such as Deckard, Femme fatal Rachel in “Blade Runner” is the femme fatal and fits the role very will because she is seductive, in control and confident. This is used in the film well as it brings in an idea of who to trust in the film, Voice over Deckard in “Blade Runner” gives a voice over of his thoughts and his background at the beginning to show that he is the ‘hero’ in the film and is the main investigating character. This is used in the film to show that he is a character that the audience can trust. “The Matrix” also uses film noir features such as, Costume, Trinity in the film wears dark black leather clothes to give an idea of toughness and strength also dark sunglasses to show that she is a kind of femme fatal. This is used well in the film as it hides feelings and enforces the darkness idea, Hidden eyes, a lot of the characters have hidden eyes with sunglasses e.g. neo, Morpheus, trinity and the agents. These hide characters eyes and like the “Blade Runner” it also hides their feelings. Femme Fatal, Trinity is a kind of femme fatal as she uses her looks as a weapon against people and also says to neo that she loves him to get him to stay alive, Setting the film is set in darkness like “Blade Runner” with cities, dark places and also tunnels, e.g. at the start of the film trinity is in a warehouse type building which is dark, Mystery – little is known about a lot of the characters in the film e.g. Morpheus who the audience don’t know where his family are etc, Camera angles, faces are shown a lot with close ups to show characters reactions to different situations.
I feel that “Blade runner” uses the most film noir features out of both films because “The Matrix” uses other ideas e.g. action, thriller etc but “Blade Runner” is mainly film noir only. The ideas that “Blade Runner” has made me consider are things such as people in this world being real and being able to tell the difference and also if technology is a good thing to evolve e.g. artificial intelligence but the ideas that “The Matrix” has made me consider are things like what rather than who in the world are real and if the world that we live in is real or not, could we be made to think that this is the real world.
The film that I enjoyed the most out of the two is “The Matrix”. This is because it involves more special effects and fighting scenes than “Blade Runner” also because I feel that “Blade Runners” story line is not as complex and as challenging to follow as “The Matrix”, “The Matrix” made me think about reality and what it is, it also made me think as the film was evolving, when were the characters in the real world or the matrix and how they were doing the things that they were.
By Michael Skuse 10Wi2