Week 11 – Running With Blades

I agree with my classmates’ comments from after the viewing that noted that Bladerunner shares many characteristics with German Expressionist films, such as the elaborate mise-en-scène and the dark mood and themes. The city streets are flooded with people and lights and colors and buildings and cars and myriad details everywhere you look.
The theme of Bladerunner is perhaps best understood from Roy Batty’s line, “All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain.” The theme is that of the futility of life, fatalism, and the inevitability of death.

So, Bladerunner, in addition to sharing many traits of German Expressionism, is no doubt of the genre Film Noir (even though IMDB does not label it as such).

For starters, the reading mentions that Film Noirs “[portray] the world of dark, slick city streets, crime and corruption.” This is evident in Bladerunner as the entire film is set in a heavily urban, futuristic Los Angeles frought with crime and corruption. The world is also lit for night in every single scene. Even when the sun is still in the sky, it is night in the scene. Another striking characteristic is how the environment is many times given an equal or greater weight than the actors in terms of lighting, which creates a fatalistic, hopeless mood – i.e., the sets will be better-lit than the actors; many times the actors will be in complete darkness (silhouette).

Rain and water are recurring elements in Film Noir. In Bladerunner, the rain is a constant aspect of the set that adds even more darkness to the scenes and adds more feeling of desperation and helplessness.

The main characters of Film Noirs are often morally ambiguous. It is hard to discern whether Deckard was a good guy or a bad guy. Sure, he works for the police, but are the police working for good? It is hard to say whether the Replicants or the police are the good guys. To me it almost seems as though the Replicants are the good guys because they are the underdogs who are enslaved and oppressed by society and their makers.

P.S. I just realized the banner is from Bladerunner.


One thought on “Week 11 – Running With Blades

  1. Myriad of cityscape details from the crowded nature, the flashing lights, and the general look of the scenery – the buildings, cars, etc. – add to the urban setting, traditional to most film noirs, even despite the futuristic look and scifi aspect of the film. The urban setting really plays off the theme traditional to film noirs, that is the corrupt and dark underbelly that exists within the city. The dreary theme is most definitely exemplified by the dark lighting of the scene, where shadows are rampant throughout scenes and any source of lighting only showcases the dark expressions of characters. In those cases, as you said, the actors are covered more so by darkness than the background, but the shadows persist.

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