Film Noir & Blade Runner

Blade Runner is undoubtedly one of the better films we have watched in class throughout the year told in a sci-fi setting with film noir stylistic elements.

The most obvious of which is of course the style of lighting. In Blade Runner, lighting is sourced from side lights that creates a a very shadowy setting. Majority of scenes are lit as if it is night and deliver a bleak tone characteristic of film noir. Another application of the dreary lighting, is the shadowy nature of the background, especially compared to the characters, whom of which are still shrouded amongst the darkness, delivering a feeling hopelessness and dreariness also commonly seen in film noir. There is very little contrast in the film, which heightens the dark tones of a film noir. This is most notably seen in the scene where Deckard is with Bryant discussing the rogue Replicants.

Framing and cinematography play huge roles in film noir. As seen in the film, framing of scenes places great sense of the bleak undertones as seen in the conservative and unassuming expressions of characters, especially those of the protagonist. Action is not solely directed by character’s movements, but more so in the hands of the movements and framing of the camera and scene.

The themes characteristic of film noir is most definitely seen in Blade Runner. Extremely dark and often bleak and hopeless future and loss where characters can take solace only in the past.

Of course the presence of rain is a common attachment seen in film noir, as it  almosts directs and intensifies with the drama of the film. In Blade Runner, rain could be seen in almost every scene where death would be abound and inevitable. Or in scenes where extremely dreary messages would be delivered, especially in the case of Roy’s line where he likens memories as fleeting and lost as tears in rain.

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3 thoughts on “Film Noir & Blade Runner

  1. To add to what you briefly said about themes, I think a big thing that defines Deckard is his ability to live in the present. Yes, maybe him and other characters inwardly take refuge in the past, but Deckard in particular appears impulsive. He seems not to worry about the bleakness of the future, most notably in the Final Cut’s ambiguous ending, but also throughout the film. His instinct is always taking reign over his actions. For example, we meet him basically jobless. He left his police job for reasons unknown. Right off the bat, it seems he has no future in mind. Even when he is taken into custody, he is more interested in his bowl of noodles. Deckard then picks up the blade runner case on a whim. He is going to risk his life because he suddenly feels like it? Has he had a sudden change of heart, or is it more simply that everything he does is unplanned and spur of the moment? You can even see by the way he tracks down his prey. His pursuits are without any plan, which explains why he is constantly being pummeled to a pulp. It may be self-destructive in our perception, but it is instinctual to him. Living in the present is his only true coping device, for where else is there to achieve happiness in a dystopian future? This is what plagues all of film noir character’s hearts. It is that lack of hope that drives them into this kind of inner turmoil.

  2. After having watched a plethora of unique films for over half a semester, I too would have to agree that Blade Runner is by far one of the better films we have viewed. Prior to this class I was not familiar with film noir and all the stylistic elements it possesses. But needless to say, this film does a very good job incorporating several aspects associated with film noir.
    The side lighting used in this film plays a major role in setting the mood through out the entire motion picture. It indeed produces a gloomy setting, which parallels to the lack of lighting. The dreariness is enhanced by the sidelights in combination with the never ending darkness. One can hardly note the difference between when it is nighttime versus when it is daytime. The theme of Blade Runner undoubtedly represents those you have mentioned (dark, bleak, hopeless future) that characterize the film noir genre.

  3. I definitely agree that the film noir lighting techniques helped to give the scenes in Blade Runner the feeling of hopelessness that was going on in the movie. The constant rundown and depressing settings and character moods were made much more intense by the lighting and all of the shadows and silhouettes. It also added a feeling of power or unknown because a lot of the time you couldn’t really see the characters’ faces very well and it was almost sort of unnerving. A lot of the time, it felt as though the viewer was being deceived as much as the characters in the movie were. The lighting also played this up because it gave us the same feeling of hopelessness that the characters in the movie were experiencing and allowed us to see the world the same way they were. It definitely made the movie more emotional and realistic in a strange sort of way.

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