Week 11 Blog Post – Blade Runner

Unlike most film-noir movies, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner takes place in a futuristic, dystopian wasteland. Just as discussed in class with Django Unchained, this film seems to be a combination of two different genres. It is a film-noir mystery, having much in common with older film-noir masterpieces of the 1940s and 1950s, but it also has a sic-fi spin on it, and the combination of the two genres in one film work together to create a unique picture.

The cinematography of Blade Runner is very characteristic of film-noir, using smoke, side lighting to create shadows, and framing to create suspense, and to draw interest from the audience around the mystery. Ridley Scott sets almost every scene of the film at night, and does this to create the eerie, unsettling effect that the film-noir genre aims to create. Scott also uses weather to create a dreary, dark, damp diagetic world; it is always raining, and there is always heavy fog. Finally, the lighting is shined from the side in most shots, creating silhouettes and shadows among most of the characters, especially with scenes in alleys or dark places like that. This is also commonplace for film-noir, reminiscent of The Third Man and basically the whole catalogue of Humphrey Bogart films.

Despite all this talk of film-noir, Blade Runner is considered by some to not even be a film-noir. Truth be told, it is a hybrid film, combining the cinematography of film-noir with the plastics of science fiction. The film takes place in a futuristic, dystopian wasteland, where technology is very advanced. Flying cars, or “spinners” are omnipresent throughout the film, and the costumes and outfits are far-fetched and futuristic. Plus, the technological effects, which where extremely advanced at the time, still influence and set the benchmark for science fiction films today.

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7 thoughts on “Week 11 Blog Post – Blade Runner

  1. I like what you said about the cinematography and basically the mise-en-scenic effect of the constant state of nighttime. And it really is constant. Consider the early scene where the sunrise finally comes. Apparently, the morning sun shines a little less bright in a neo-noir, dystopian future. Overviews of the city depict a lingering darkness down in its depths. It seems the night overpowers even the golden sunlight, diluting its rays, which is an exaggerated technique to further the common film noir iconography: the corrupt city. It is a miserable city where heavy rainfall and smog relentlessly defile it. One cannot help but imagine the scum that fester in the nooks and crannies. Such a setting not only establishes the protagonist as a tough individual who can withstand the dark surroundings, but it allows him or her to choose a side. The character normally has the option to either adapt and become just as despicable (which many French neo-noir films do), become a maverick for good (less likely), or fall somewhere in between (most Hollywood film noir). Initially we may suspect the first approach as Deckard appears as a hardened shell. Early on under the dulled morning sun, Deckard even objects to the harsh light in his face, vaguely implying his moral state. But Scott simply toys with our expectations, because it becomes clear that Deckard chooses the in-between. He involves himself in a battle for good, yet for for his own gain, making Blade Runner a more classic interpretation of film noir. Deckard becomes someone we can easily admire, eliminating the complexities of a fully corrupt anti-hero. It just may be the only way to deal with a film so dark not only in its themes, but also its imagery. I do not know if the film would be watchable without a character like Deckard.

  2. You start off stating that the advanced setting of the film id uncharacteristic of the film-noir genre. However, I was under the impression that film- noir does in fact incorporate futuristic aspects. Putting those thoughts aside, the movie undoubtedly encompasses more than one genre. I personally believe that doing so makes the film that much more intriguing, as well as appealing to a bigger audience. It also yields a motion picture that is nothing like others.
    The smoke and side lights were an extremely evident feature through out this entire movie. As you have mentioned, the side lighting helps to create shadows that add to the mysteriousness of the film. Whether it was just foggy or people were smoking, the smoke presented a creepy mood. One thing I totally overlooked that was mentioned is their costumes. Even their costumes were pretty abnormal, appearing as if they are something one may expect to encounter in the future.

  3. In response to the idea that the futuristic setting is technically not film noir, I believe that this is false on a few levels. While there was obviously a Sci-Fi influence, the lighting, setting, dialogue, and characterization all presented film noir-like qualities. No seen happened during daylight (although one happened at twilight) and this added to the dark feeling of the film. The lighting also wasn’t ever uniform, focusing on the character who was dominating the scene.
    In the film it was pretty much raining the entire time. As the story progressed and the climax came about, the rain was the heaviest it had been throughout the whole film.

  4. I like how you pointed out the cinematography of Blade Runner and how it characterizes the film noir genre. Without the effects of mise-en-scene such as the lighting, setting, and costumes of this film it would take away from the mysterious aspects of the film noir genre. I thought the lighting was one of the most important aspects of mise-en-scene in this film because it gave the setting an eerie and mysterious feel and it heightens the suspense of the scene, especially when the lighting of the setting creates so many shadows. It was interesting how you mentioned the weather, because now I realized that for much of the movie it was dark, raining, and foggy, and there was little to no sunlight. This also distorts our perception of time, because we have no idea what time it is because the setting is always dark. This plays into the not only film noir, but the sci-fi aspect of the film.

  5. Just throwing this out there to some who have commented…film noir is not sci-fi. That’s why this film is considered a mixed genre. Classic film noir is from the 40s and 50s and takes place in a completely contemporary, often urban setting. To say the sci-fi element is characteristic to film noir is incorrect. It is not even characteristic of neo-noir, which is the actual category Blade Runner falls into.

  6. The fact that the film is of mixed genre makes it all the more complex and unique when it comes to analyzing genre. Since it is both a sci-fi and noir film, it blends conventions of each genre in interesting ways.
    The noir theme, characters, and story take place in a sci-fi setting.

  7. Blade runner definitely exhibits scifi qualities which make it mixed gender but the analogy of a dystopian futuristic society is spot on. Part of the film noir I think is that a predicted society is so out of whack. The defining characteristic in my mind of film noir is cynicism. This is exhibited throughout the fictional city and throughout Deckers life. From the polluted and dirty streets to Decker’s alcoholism, loneliness, and short temper, the film plot summary is a train wreck. Decker seems hopeless throughout the whole movie and that is what contributes most to film noir in my opinion.

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