Blade Runner & Film Noir

Blade Runner undoubtedly could fall under the category of film noir, or at least has many characteristics of this genre. The aspect that stood out most to me was the lighting. Throughout the entire film, there is darkness and if there is light it is from bright spotlights with a sort of eerie contrast. In most scenes, there is backlighting or low key lighting that makes the character in the scene’s face very dark and lack any identifiable details. Some of the visual techniques used reminded me a lot of German expressionism: the makeup, the cityscape similar to Metropolis, the themes, etc.

Another identifying feature was something discussed in the “Notes on Film Noir” article: “The empty noir streets are almost always glistening with fresh evening rain, and the rainfall tends to increase in direct proportion to the drama” (586). This is very true in Blade Runner, especially considering the intense rainfall during the last dramatic scene in the city. The city is often very dark and has puddles (I think), which gives it an even darker feeling and plays up the lack of sunshine even more.

Something else very relevant in Blade Runner is the random hints of sexuality dispersed throughout the whole film. From Zhora’s nudity with a snake and then risqué outfit to Pris’s look throughout almost the whole film, there is definitely a lot of sexual tension and sexually charge scenes. Although it doesn’t ever really lead to sexual relationships, it plays a large part in the movie and brings characters’ physical appearances and body language to the viewer’s attention a lot more. It also gives the whole film an even darker and more mysterious and almost risky feeling. It is one of the only real emotions that is scene throughout the movie and fits in pretty well with all of the other depressing and dark things going on in the city.


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