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.

Week 11 Blog Post

Bladerunner immediately reminded me of the city of Coruscant in Star Wars Attack of the Clones. The setting was almost identical, with the tall, geometric buildings with lots of lights, the flying vehicles, and the crowded city. After watching Blade Runner I realized how influential it was on many sci-fi and film noir movies.

The lighting of this film is very characteristic of a film noir movie. All of the lighting in this movie is low-key. This plays up contrast and accentuates shadows. The shadows were very dramatic, and you could even see the shadows of window blinds or other objects on the character’s faces. Most of the settings were very dark, with most of the lights coming from windows or buildings. The dark setting makes the film seem more mysterious and unpredictable, which contributes to the aspects of a film noir.

The music of this film contributed more to the sci-fi aspect of the film. Much of the sound was extra-diegetic and reflected the style of 80’s music when the movie came out. The music was often very loud and dramatic, which, paired with a thrilling action scene or mysterious scene, heightens emotion and makes the moment more suspenseful. Sometimes the extra-digetic music would overlap with the diegetic music. For instance, when Rachael is at Deckard’s apartment, she starts playing the piano, and then extra-diegetic music plays at the same time. The sound is this film contributed to the aspects of both sci-fi and film noir.

One aspect of the film that stood out to me was the rain. It seemed to rain a lot throughout this film. The rain gives the film a more ominous, gloomy feel and is also used as a foreshadowing mechanism. Typically, we know something bad or suspenseful is about to happen if it is raining.

 

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.

Week 11 Blog Assignment

Blade Runner perfectly exemplifies what we’ve been talking about in class regarding both playing into and against genre, as well as mixing genres. It shows many of the classic elements of film noir while also exploring more genres such as sci-fi, allowing the film to give a more versatile viewing experience.
Blade Runner plays into film noir in many ways, and many of these are described in detail by Paul Schrader in the reading from FT&C. Perhaps the most notable of all of these is the effects of lighting employed to create shadows and imply nighttime. Though obviously some of the movie probably took place during the day, almost all of the scenes are not only darkly lit from within the room, but also evoke a sense of occurring when the sun is not up. In another similarly related way, film noir echoes some elements of German Expressionism; obscure lighting never fully frames any of the characters and creates heavy shadows. Also, many noir films feature more commonplace sets and costumes; contrary to this, Blade Runner more effectively reflects Expressionism, with its highly stylized city and futuristic costumes. Finally, water is heavily prevalent in a standard film noir, as we have in Blade Runner. There is always a heavy downpour occurring outside, and water even plays a role inside buildings. In the climactic sequence, water is running down the wall between Deckard and Roy, and in other sequences inside the same house, water is on some of the floors.
One main theme of film noir is displayed many times over: hopelessness. Pris sleeps in a pile of garbage, Sebastian lives eternally alone with a bunch of animated yet not living dolls, Deckard loses his only gun in a fight with one of the Replicants and Deckard and Rachel have no hope of a future together. The fact that the Replicants only have four years to live and no way to fight this fact really solidifies the hopelessness that film noir finds so appealing.

Week 11- There Were No Blades In This Film

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.

 

Blade Runner: Week 11 Blog Post

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner certainly exhibits many of the elements that give the film noir genre its unique mood and style. In the film, the lighting and play of shadows serve to give the setting its essential noir mood. With the use of what appears as natural light and shadows casted upon by any nook and cranny created by the film’s complex setting, Scott is able to set an uneasy and mysterious mood to each scene.

As already examined in the lighting, film noir serves to give its viewers an uneasy mood. The film uses rain to do just that by portraying many of the actions and deaths outside when it is present. The eccentric setting itself also carries out this mood as it takes place in a lively future Los Angeles. However, the city is ultimately cold and almost inhumane.

Perhaps the result of combining the genres of noir and sci-fi, the clothing that specifically Deckard and Rachael wear seems out of tune with the futuristic setting that the film takes place in. Instead, their clothes look as if they were taken straight from a noir film of the early twentieth century. This yet again adds on to the vibe of the film.

Also common in many noir works, the theme of femme fatale is evident as well in the film. This idea continues on with the notion of latent sexuality that the film at times evokes. For example, prior to when Deckard kills the first woman replicant, he is distracted by her seduction of him, which leads to her almost killing him. Although they should not be trusted, women that convey this quality seem to always lead the male protagonist to danger. The film’s abrupt ending leaves this notion open because the viewers do not know if Rachael can truly be trusted or even what will happen next. In any case, at its core, Blade Runner is truly film noir and serves to show the originality that genre mixing and film can still have.

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.

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.

Blade Runner

Science fiction and film noir is combined in Blade Runner when talking about genre. Commonly in these films, there is the main character that is clearly good. Ford plays the character that is a policeman against the villains that are clearly bad. There is an apparent line drawn between the good and bad in this movie.

The science fiction element in this film is very evident as the movie opens with a background shot of the highly technological city. The villains are technological creations that were loose from the corporation. They were created as a technological means of advancement but the more advanced they are the more of a threat to are to humanity. Scifi films typically warn about creating human life, for example, I Robot is another scifi film. In metropolis, the robot was also a danger and serves as a warning for the limits of technology.

Film noir on the other hand holds characteristics such as having a policeman as the main character. It usually depicts a very high contrast, low key scene. The movie switched from having blue hues, to green tints, but it was all very dark either way. German expressionism was also evident in this film with its anti-realistic elements. The movie was hardly believable as a scifi movie and with its setting. Pris was drawn up so well, expressionism was used to highlight her reactions. As were the other characters, as close ups allowed for their full reactions.

The movie was very confusing, the end I could not get altogether. I also noticed that with scifi films that sometimes there is a distortion in time. Rachael was looking at the pictures of Rick’s family and they were black and white. We, in the future, have colored photos before we enter this future, therefore it was interesting to see that the film was made that long ago.

Week 11 Blog Assignment

Blade Runner, a film noir story told in a science fiction setting, is a unique take on the stylistic elements of film noir.

Firstly, disillusionment and nihilism are certainly present themes in Blade Runner. These themes come to light through the many formal techniques that are conventions of the film noir genre:

The film is most notably lit for night. The chiaroscuro lighting is always dark and there is not one shot in the movie that takes place in broad daylight. On top of that, the actors and setting get equal treatment when it comes to lighting. As opposed to films of other genres in which the main characters are usually well-lit no matter how well-lit the setting is, Blade Runner’s characters are lit according to their physical spot in the setting—they are not differentiated from the setting in any way.

Next, the film, in line with the conventions of its genre, is filled with water, in puddles, sinks, or pouring rain. The most pivotal action in the story typically takes place outdoors, during a dark, muggy, and exceptionally rainy hour of the night.

Although this specific version of Blade Runner does not contain it, the theatrical version contains romantic voiceover narration, another trope of film noir.

Lastly, the film’s cinematography and mise-en-scene is much influenced by German Expressionism. Each character’s makeup is for the most part elaborate (characterized by Pris’s raccoon eyes), displaying some kind of intense emotion. Emotion is also displayed by acting that is more presentational than naturalistic, displaying fierce emotional feelings. Harrison Ford’s grunts, heavy breathing, and exaggerated facial expressions of pain are exemplary of this.

All in all, there is no doubt that Blade Runner belongs to the genre of film noir. But what makes it even more interesting is that it is, too, an excellent example of genre mixing. Genre mixing and the many masterpieces created through it are proof that genres (which are criticized for being formulaic and unoriginal) can certainly create original works of art that ooze creativity.