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The Setting of Blade Runner
The movie is set in a gloomy futuristic city, a metropolis in a period of societal decline. The opening remarks tell the audience that the setting of the movie is Los Angeles and the year is 2019 (Blade Runner). At the beginning, this industrialized city appears wet and overpopulated; its dimly lit streets are filled with people of all races. The city is in perpetual darkness as only neon street lights and billboards light the streets.
A rise in pollution and crime forces humans to leave this city in search of a new life on another planet. A multinational company, Tyrell Corporation that has its headquarters in the city, builds genetically engineered beings called replicants to provide labor in their industries.
However, some replicants rebel against the slavery and become outlawed on earth. They later return to claim Tyrell Corporation and a blade runner called Deckard sets out on a quest to hunt and kill them.
The Urban Landscape
The opening images show a heavily industrialized city with billowing smoke, towering buildings and a highly polluted environment. The neon-lit billboards signify a commercial city and provide light that illuminate an otherwise dark city.
Flying cars dominate the skies with people from various backgrounds filling the soggy streets below. The urban landscape in this movie projects a capitalistic city dominated by giant corporations whose distinguishing features include overcrowding, pollution, authoritarian rule and crime. As people begin fleeing the city, littered streets and abandoned houses dominate the landscape of this city
The nightmarish visions in this movie portray a dystopian landscape facing the consequences of capitalism. Thematically, Blade Runner has several dystopian features. It is based on an imaginary story that explores future possibilities and instabilities of the modern capitalistic society and corporate capitalists. The movie also articulates the common fears regarding contemporary sociopolitical environment.
It reflects the plausible dangers of problems associated with capitalism and overpopulation such as crime and pollution. In this movie, with all the vestiges of nature gone, people become frightened to live in the city and begin to flee to an Off-world place.
One attribute of dystopian depictions like Blade Runner is that they frighten and instill fear regarding the possibilities of contemporary values. The movie depicts the possible effects of corporate capitalism, repressive policies and pollution.
In the last scene, Dackard, the blade runner, is seen embroiled in a fight with the rebel replicants. Dackard triumphs over three replicants but a fourth replicant, Roy, overpowers him forcing him to flee. Finally, Dackard, with the assistance of a fellow cop, flees the city taking Rachel with her.
Dackard then marries Rachel, a replicant, and settles in a new place away from the city. Out of a 21st century city, polluted and damaged by corporate capitalism emerges a beacon of hope as Dackard and Rachel begin a new life together in the countryside. Thus, Gaff and Roy manage to force Dackard out of the city signifying an end to a sad era and the beginning of a new one.
To the viewer, this movie tells a lot about the dangers of intense capitalism. Most 21st century cities show images of cities run by giant capitalistic corporations. The ending depicts how these corporations would cause societal decline in modern cities. Sociopolitical problems such as social inequalities, crime and pollution will lead to chaos and destruction in these cities and give way for a new age.
The setting in this movie is dark and obscure implying that the movie was shot at dusk or at night. The huge billboards and neon street lights illuminating the dark rainy streets below indicate that the movie was set in a low-light environment.
The street lights and corporate ads are the only sources of light that penetrates the streets. Also, the city is filled with fog because of the torrential rain. The wet weather, bolts of lightning and dark clouds in the sky indicate that the movie was shot during a rainy season. The darkness and the wet conditions contributed to the movie’s bleakness and obscure visual appearance.
Blade Runner relies on science-fiction to predict the future impacts of intense capitalism. The movie features alien organisms, the replicants, and predicts a future city ruined by the effects of capitalism. In the movie, increased industrialization and technology increases pollution and alienates people making them desperate in their own cities. This setting and style can be seen in recent Hollywood science fiction movies like the Matrix.
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Blade Runner. Dir. Ridley Scott. Warner Bros, 1982. DVD.