Ridley Scott uses elements of Sci-Fi and film noir to create a thought provoking and entertaining film in Bladerunner.
The setting itself is purely science fiction, and as an iconic movie of the 80’s, Bladerunner set the literal stage for future movies of that genre. One that comes to mind immediately is the city in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. This is especially apt due to the presence of flying vehicles, crowded streets and skies, an overabundance of neon lights, and a sense of gloom often emphasized by rain. The very first image we get of 2019 Los Angeles is dark buildings and imposing skyscrapers emitting spurts of flame. This already lets us know that this perceived future is not a happy place and sets the tone for the rest of the movie. As the dark music gives way to more grandiose music, we are then (not so subtly) shown the glowing Mayan-temple like building in the center of the city, where we can assume much of the plot will stem from.
As far as the film noir aspect, this film definitely falls under that category as well. The gloomy city scape with dark, dirty alleys, the constant rain and apparent lack of sunshine, and the interplay between light and shadows are all characteristic of film noir, especially American style. The plot also follows the type, with the reluctant hero (Ford) called on to do the work of the higher ups, given enough details to do his job, but not enough to realize the bigger picture. Ford himself is donned with the classic trenchcoat, permanent scowl, snarky wit, and personality flaws generally associated with the heros (often times detectives or police officers) of these types of films. There is also the influence of the femme fatal, or “fatal woman”, although it could be argued that there were actually three.
Just as the movie’s futuristic synthesized jazz backing track suggests, Bladerunner is a mixed genre piece, fusing elements of film noir into the backdrop of a science fiction dystopia.