Film Analysis – Blade Runner

MAC 170: INTRODUCTION TO FILM STUDIES ASSIGNMENT ONE – FILM ANALYSIS FILM CHOSEN: Blade Runner (1982) EXTRACT: INT – Sebastian’s Building, starting with the shot of Deckard climbing up the wall. Duration: 9 minutes (Chapter 30, Blade Runner: The Final Cut, 2007) The following essay will be a close analysis of an extract from the 1982 film Blade Runner, which was directed by Ridley Scott. Blade Runner is a science-fiction film based on the book ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ which was written by Phillip K. Dick.
This essay will also explore how Ridley Scott’s use of mise en scene and editing in Blade Runner can exhibit him as an auteur. An ‘auteur’ is known as the ‘author’ of the film; a director that uses recognisable and similar traits and themes throughout a number of their films. The ‘auteur’ was created through the ‘auteur’ theory, which argues that the director is the most important person behind making a film. It was first established by an establishment of film makers in 1950’s Paris. Some of these film makers were Francois Trauffaut, Jean Luc-Goddard and Jacques Rivette.
They were angered by a critical establishment in France that lauded a film’s fidelity to a screenplay or novel and regarded the film director as merely a translator of material from the verbal medium to the cinematic. For this view Trauffaut and company substituted a notion of personal cinema – a cinema in which the director, not the screenwriter, could be seen as the controlling force behind the film. (Allen & Gomery, 1985: 71-72) This quote explains how the auteur theory was established, and how Trauffaut created la politique des auteurs, which is a policy in which the director is the main creative force when making a film.

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Ridley Scott can be classed as an auteur for his repeated use of strong female characters, which are present both in Blade Runner, Alien (1979) and Thelma & Louise (1991), the future and the unknown, and the ‘created’ human. This essay will explore these points using the close analysis of Blade Runner, whilst also comparing Blade Runner to Alien. Ridley Scott can be classed as an auteur for his use of setting in his films; he tends to create a post-apocalyptic setting, mainly set in the ot-so-distant future. This can be seen in the extract of Blade Runner, from the wide angle, long shot of Deckard on the roof. The tall buildings, which are close together, help to connote an industrialised city, and the lack of organic matter helps to show the futuristic world as very bleak, old and dirty. The use of space surrounding Deckard when he is hanging from the roof help to establish that the city lacks people and is very de-humanised and an almost dystopia, which is very similar to Alien.
Alien and Blade Runner warn us against a capitalist future gone wrong, where such feelings and bonds are so severely truncated that a quite literal dehumanization has become perhaps the gravest danger. (Byers, 1990: 39) This dehumanization feature which Ridley Scott has placed into both Blade Runner and Alien gives both films a sense of fear to the audience when both films were first released, that the possibility of the earth being dehumanized is quite great.
The shot of Deckard hanging from the roof also shows how high the building is, with the audience barely being able to see the floor, which helps to connote a sense of uncertainty from the audience, as they are unsure as to whether or not Deckard will fall. The use of rain in this scene is very powerful, as it makes the scene feel very depressive, creating a bleak aspect to the film whilst also creating a ‘bad feeling’ for the audience, as it connotes to the audience that something bad is going to happen.
This helps to establish a bleak, industrialised future, a one in which there are little humans on earth in Blade Runner, similar to Alien which can help to describe Ridley Scott as an auteur. Ridley Scott can also be defined as an auteur for his use of strong and determined protagonists, especially in Blade Runner and Alien. In this scene extract, Deckard can be seen as a strong protagonist due to his determination to ‘retire’ Roy. This scene however, also shows the audience the similarities between Roy and Deckard.
The cross cutting editing used at the start of the scene when both characters are dealing with their similar hand injuries helps to show the similarity between Roy and Deckard as they are both dealing with the same sort of pain. Deckard in this scene seems very determined to retire Roy, however when Roy does die, the audience seem to get the feeling that Deckard seems sad about this. The editing in this extract is quite slow at first, using long shots before cutting helping to create a slow pace to the scene.
The extract then changes pace however, when Roy is ‘hunting’ Deckard, the editing becomes quite fast and rapid making it exciting for the audience to watch. The shot when Roy smashes his head through the wall helps to show the slow pace turning fast. The way the editing is quite slow and then there is a jolt – the point where Roy smashes his head through the wall – the editing then speeds up a little after this shot, until Roy’s death where the editing slows down rapidly, using slow-motion to evoke sadness from the audience.
The Roy smashes his head through the wall helps to show a sense of power from Roy, which creates a sense of danger toward Deckard from the audience, making them feel like he is not safe. There are a lot of cross-cuts between Roy and Deckard, which helps the audience to see the similarities between the two characters, almost hinting that Deckard could be a replicants too. The fading between the dead Roy and Deckard, and the use of close ups on Deckard’s sad face makes the audience feel quite sad too.
In this scene we learn that Roy just wanted to live and not be a ‘slave’ which creates empathy from the audience. The significance of the dove which is released when Roy dies connotes that the bird was almost a representation of Roy – and the shot of the bird flying away is a symbol of Roy finally being ‘free’ which leaves the audience feeling sad and almost regretful that they saw Roy as the villain, especially when we see him jumping in and out of the shadows at the beginning of the scene, as if this was almost a game to him.
In this scene, Roy can be seen as the anti-hero. The use of lighting surrounding Roy when he has died makes him appear almost god-like, signifying him as powerful, which he has been throughout this scene. The long shot of Roy and Deckard, when Roy has just pulled the dangling Deckard from the roof to safety signifying that Roy can be seen as an anti-hero, connotes that Roy has more power over Deckard. The way Deckard is lying on the floor at Roy’s feet shows Deckard in a submissive way, that human’s are powerless against replicants.
The close up, low angle on Roy’s face after this, makes the audience feel quite scared of Roy. His eyes are big, almost ‘crazy’ and the way Pris’ blood is running down his face make the audience feel scared of Roy. Ridley Scott’s lack of lighting in this extract can help to identify Ridley Scott as an auteur, as he also uses a lack of lighting in Alien. The shot of Roy behind the barbed wire, almost signifying a caged animal which replicants have shown similarities to throughout the film, creates a sense of fear and uncertainty for the audience.
The way the light is shining behind him creating a lot of shadows, makes Roy seem a little mysterious as the audience are uncertain as to what is going to happen next. The way the lighting throughout the extract creates a lot of shadows, making the extract feel bleak and dark, creating almost a Film Noir feel to the film, creates a bleak, and dark feel for the audience. Throughout the extract, the only lighting we see is artificial, as the only light comes from lamps, bright lights from a ‘Spinner’ advertising the new world or bright neon billboard’s which helps to give the film an artificial and futuristic tone.
Ridley Scott’s use of dark colours in this scene, such as grey, black and blue, creates a sinister feel to the scene making the audience know something bad is going to happen. This is similar to Alien, as all the lighting in that film is artificial too, coming from the lights from the ship, and the 1984 Mac advert which Ridley Scott directed, can define him as an auteur. The way Ridley Scott continually uses similar features and themes among his films helps to exhibit him as an auteur.
Blade Runner and Alien are very similar in terms of editing and mise en scene, the use of this in Blade Runner helps to establish Ridley Scott as an auteur as he uses these themes and effects in many more of his films. Word Count: 1505/1602 Bibliography Allen, R. C. & Gomery, D. (1985) Film History: Theory and Practice, McGraw Hill Byers, Thomas B. (1990) ‘Commodity Futures’ in Kuhn, A. (ed. ) Alien Zone, Cultural Theory and Contemporary Science Fiction Cinema, London: Verso. Caughie, J. (ed. ) (1981) Theories of Authorship, London: Routledge Nelmes, J. (ed. ) (2003) Introduction to Film Studies, London: Routledge

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