The desire for social progression has always masked society. Both Mary Shelleys Frankenstein (1818) and Ridley Scotts Blade Runner (1982) were produced during eras of technological exploration. Through depicting technology breeching moral boundaries through context, characterisation and intertextuality, both Scott and Shelley highlight the dangers of progression with the absence of ethical emotion a timeless social issues which binds these two texts.
Written during the industrial revolution and the emerging era of existentialism and exploration Shelleys Frankenstein can be interpreted as a warning to the technologically curious. This curious nature is personified throughout the protagonist Victor Frankenstein, who tragically falls victim to experimentation without boundaries. This was an attempt to foreshadow the potential dangers of unmonitored technological advancements. To reiterate this sentiment, Shelley also aimed to stress the divinity of nature in the face of technological dominance through elements of Romanticism. The weight upon my shoulders was sensibly lightened as I plunged yet deeper into the ravine emotive imagery highlights the cleansing effect of the environment, juxtaposed against the oppressive nature of the technologically advanced city.
This idea of negatively depicting technologic dominance is similarly illuminated by Scott. To emphasise the age of globalisation, consumerism, corporate domination and commercialism, Scott has intended the dystopian setting of L.A. 2019 to represent our potential existence should we let technology get out of control. The establishing panoramic long shot of industrial columns spewing fire against the eternally dark horizon generated fear for what our society might come to be. The majestic ziggurats of the Tyrell Corporation loom over the city squalor a visual metaphor for technologys domination over society and the resulting negative impact. It is clear that Scott had intended Blade Runner to be a warning of our own progressive drive as a society.
Shelley has characterised Victor and the Monster as elements of this technological progression. Victor represents society intent on pushing the boundaries and the monster represents the product of this curiosity; of technology gone wrong; technology without ethics. Accursed creator! Why do you form a monster so hideous that even you turn away from me in disgust? The monsters constant rhetoric questioning addresses these ethics and illuminates the monster as a symbol of innocence in the face of corruption. Victors relationships also allow an insight into the moral dilemma of creation. Victors positive family relationship is juxtaposed against his spite for the monster, a somewhat child of his. This represents the separation of emotion and technological progression and the dangers that accompany this. This illustrates the warning Shelley aimed her progressing society to notice.
Similarly, the characterisation within Blade Runner sheds light on the fragile relationship between technology and emotion. Roy Batty the product is in fact more human than human against the society that produced him; personified by the anti-her Deckard. As Roy releases a white dove upon his acceptance of imminent death it is evident that he acknowledges himself as a sad product of technological curiosity. A low angle shot of Roy bathed in ethereal light juxtaposes the high angle shot of Deckard; vulnerable and struggling for salvation. And in an act of emotional superiority, the technologically made Roy saves the maker or personification of society. This second chance to human existence still echoes strong warnings regarding ignored technological exploration.
To illuminate that this fear of creation without ethics is timeless, Shelley has included an excerpt from John Miltons Paradise Lost. Did I ask thy maker mould me man? this intertextuality conveys the topics biblical roots. The concept of challenging gods role is reinforced within Shelleys original introduction. Frightful would be the effect if any individual should mock the stupendous mechanisms of the creator of the world. It is evident that Shelley aims to generate audience awareness to current social and technical antics.
Scott also employs intertextuality to add depth to the underlying concept. By depicting Zhora as Christ, slowing down the frames and overlaying smooth non- diegetic jazz misc, Scott generates audience empathy despite Zhora simply being a technological product. This biblical allusion and emotive filming acknowledge the blurred boundaries between real and artificial emotion. Reiterating this is the partial stigmata of Roy as he feels the pains of life and ultimately sacrifices himself for humanity. These allusions give insight into the timeless ethical debate over creation that still ravages technological progression today.
As both Mary Shelleys Frankenstein and Ridley Scotts Blade Runner were created during times of technological advancement, both texts illuminate the danger of this dominance through context and characterisation. Intertextuality highlights that this has been and will always be a prevalent and controversial issue within human existence.
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