Although perspectives and values change with time, ideas and concepts can transcend. The gothic novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley and the science fiction film Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott although composed over one hundred years apart contain the same perennial concepts on the nature of humanity. This is portrayed through notions of dehumanization, monstrosity and redemption, of the “indistinguishable” creator and creature relationship. The romanticist Shelly wrote her gothic novel the enlightenment era which posed questions concerning the mystery of life and nature of humanity.
Scott on the other hand composed in the post-industrial age, where technology and morality played a dominant role in society. The composers explore their contextual values while upholding transcendent concepts of humanity incorporating morality and creation though unique techniques in accordance to their text type. Both Frankenstein and Blade Runner, although established within different contexts, communicate the universal notion that knowledge, beyond the morally conventional limits of society, initiates the human desire to understand and manipulate the natural world.
Shelley’s novel, influenced by romantic writers such as Coleridge and Percy Shelley, sees her examine and hyperbolize the obsessive passion of the scientists of her day. Thus, her archetypal scientist, Victor, is characterized as overly passionate and ambitious. Shelley achieves this romantic characterized passion, through the use of repetition and emotive language in regard to his science; such as “ardent,” “eager” and “passionate enthusiasm. Victor’s story is an adaption of the Promethean myth of fire stolen from the gods.
The usurption of the roles of God is used by Shelley as a parody of mankind’s attempt to become the ‘over reacher’ through the Romantic paradigm of “perfectibility. ” Thus the responder is able to comprehend Shelley’s philosophical questioning of the purpose in experimenting with the natural world and perfection. Similarly, in Blade Runner, Tyrell is also considered an “over reacher” (dictator) parallel to Frankenstein, as he strives to manipulate humanity usurping the role of God.
Scott draws from his contextual society, through the power of corporate dictatorships and thus implicates this ideal unto Tyrell’s character demonstrating him as a powerful tyrant, genuinely lacking empathy, with his main objective being the profit margin, “commerce is our goal here at Tyrell. ” His arrogant pride, or fatal hubris symbolized by the giant Tyrell Corp’ headquarters; a giant pyramid like structure towering above the city, alluding to the pharaohs of Egypt that saw themselves as gods, contrasting to the low camera of the “little people. Therefore, Scott’s Blade Runner analogous to Frankenstein conveys the universal notion of the human desire to transform and understand the natural world. Also, spiritual dimension/gothic church imagery and his comments about Rachel, her name is symbolic – refer much to the use of symbolism, more examples. Both Frankenstein and Blade Runner portray notions of the monstrosities that occur as a result of dehumanization of mankind. In Frankenstein, Shelley highlights the Monstrous effects of a lack of nurture upon beings.
Shelley’s adoption of 17th century philosopher John Locke’s theory that children learn things mainly through experience justifies the monstrous transformation of Victor’s “Creation”. “I could distinguish, nothing; but feeling pain invades me, I sat down and wept”. The physical imagery as described by the Creation mirrors the reactions of a new-born baby, stressing Victor’s monstrous desertion of paternal responsibilities. Victor, the obvious Lockean foil to the Creature, through his monstrous transformation reiterates the importance of inherent morality.
When does he do this? It is Shelley’s purpose. Shelley demonstrates this when Victor states, “I shunned the face of man; all sound of joy and complacency was torture to me” The gothic connotations of the words “shun”, and “torture” coupled with the supernatural aspect of isolation emphasise the macabre aspect of Victor’s alteration to convey to the responder the overruling power of Monstrosity. Juxtaposed in Blade Runner, Scott portrays the monstrous effects of a lack of nurture be more specific here on a larger scale upon all humanity.
This is demonstrated the synthetic replacement of what is natural, with what is morally compromising and tainting humanity, in the dystopic apocalyptic world of “LA 2019,” a concrete urban jungle, devoid of any resemblance of nature. Scott influenced by mass-consumption and mass production, creates this image through the use of special effects to create an environment of constant rain, and use of film noir to show the dark, dystopic and corroded environment, where all humans are abandoning the planet in search of an off world colonies, in doing so Scott to exemplify the ongoing degradation of nature.
Scott through his satirical portrayal of monstrosity on the social and environmental world space, demonstrates how dictating values through 1980’s values of capitalism and consumerism results in a disconnection of humanity. Thus Shelley and Scott portray how changing moral and social ethics removed from institutions that humanity were based upon can cause monstrous effects, through a loss of the understanding of what it means to be human. The need for redemption by mankind is imperative to restore humanity and morality to society.
Shelley draws upon William Godwin’s philosophy that “knowledge and the enlargement of intellect are poor, when mixed with malevolence” in conjunction with her fear of the Industrial Revolution, a period of vast scientific and technological change, to present Victor’s story as an allegory for unchecked ambition. Shelley explores this ideal in Frankenstein through the intertextuality of “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”. Shelley has paralleled Victor to the Ancient Mariner, in that both must be redeemed for the crime in which they have committed through heeding their tale of faults unto society.
Shelley encapsulates this idea through Victor bestowing his wisdom unto Walton “deduce an apt of moral from my tale…… Learn from me…. how dangerous the acquirement of knowledge. ” Through Shelley’s use of the epistolary form, presenting a didactic quality throughout her text, through her multi-framed narrative, she allows her characters, to warn both Walton, and the responders, of the treacherousness of unrestrained self aspiration.
Scott portrays similar ideals of redemption in Blade Runner taking inspiration from the Environmental movement against globalisation and global warming effects, thus trying to reinforce need with humanity and nature within society. Scott portrays this idea through, Roy as the metamorphosis to the saviour (Christ. ) This is demonstrated through the camera image of Roy with a symbolic nail in his hand saving Deckard. The image embodies the humanistic ideas of transcendence, and is representative of Roy revealing humanity unto Deckard.
Scott’s biblical motif is continued; through Roy’s death, as a representation of humankind’s spiritual rebirth. Scott conveys this through the film noir, high angled shot with the embodiment of nature, dove in the bright sky. The transcendent image is allusive to the Biblical reference of Noah’s ark, after the restoration of humanity. This idea is reinforced through the Character Deckard’s enlightenment in the image of Deckard squashing the origami unicorn, symbolically eradicating the idea of replicant.
Hence through Roy’s death, Deckard is able to realise the despondency of humans in the dystopian civilisation, in the need for regaining empathy to survive. Both Texts demonstrate the intrinsic aspects of human nature are crucial in the need for humanity. Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein and Ridley Scott’s film Blade Runner, demonstrate a myriad of social criticisms of their time on issues of science beyond moral conventions. Responders are thus able to understand the driving forces behind these esteemed texts through the exploration of changing values, and appreciate how paradigms of humanity v science transcend throughout time.