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Architects and town planners are usually interested with the future structures and how they should be constructed (Benjamin, 2000). One way of predicting the design of future structures is to analyze the appearance of architectural features presented in the movies that focus on the future. One of the movies that have inspired architects and city planners is Blade Runner. After watching the movie, the audience will note that when Scott produced the film he aimed at portraying a not so distant future.
In spite of the film’s mucky horrific scenes, its cinematography and narrative depict Los Angeles as a futuristic cityscape (Blade Runner, 1982). By analyzing the city and how the movie has been produced with respect to the cinematography and narrative, the article below seeks to highlight how the film has been a basis of stimulation and admiration for architects and city designers.
Blade Runner is a fictitious movie produced in the year 1982. Ridley Scott directed the movie. The movie stars Harrison Ford, Edward Olmos, and Sean Young (Blade Runner, 1982). The movie portrays futuristic perspective of Los Angeles in the year 2019. As such, the city is depicted under the control of genetically engineered replicates. The replicates do not resemble humans in appearance.
The influential Tyrell Corporation together with other leading global manufacturing corporations makes the replicates. In the movie, replicates are prohibited from the earth and are solely used for hazardous or tedious work on terrestrial colonies. Replicates that defy the prohibition and return to the planet are hunted down and slain. The film’s plot centers on a despairing cluster of recent runaway replicates taking refuge in the city of Los Angeles.
Hybrid styles: expressionist, noir, and vertical noir
The movie begins as the camera focuses on a 700-storey skyscraper. From the scene, the atmosphere is depicted with tanned sky full of industrial smoke. As such, the skyscraper is the head office of the corporation that manufactures the replicates. The movie’s sequential scenes occur within the city setting. The urban setting and the presence of replicates offers a link between the future and architecture (Dempsey, 2010). Its analysis offers architects and city planners and an insight about the future and how it should be designed.
The film has traces of several formal landscapes of German expressionism witnessed in the early 20th century. The film’s cinematography illustrates Los Angeles as an expressionist city. To enhance this, the film employs the use of mise-en-scene of decorative illumination and shadow and the contrast of human beings and replicates. Equally, the widespread usage of obscure shadows, foggy illumination, and anomalous camera angles depicts Los Angeles as a futuristic city.
Similarly, the movie integrates the use of aesthetics and narrative strategies. The above features were common in the typical Hollywood investigative genre of the mid-20th century film noir. The lead character in the film, Deckard, demonstrates the noir abilities of a customary and the courageous secluded eye story. Remarkably, a number of the acts were recorded on the New York street. The street had been earlier used by classical Hollywood movies.
Additional features such as the voice over, the themes of rain, themes of obscurity, and the themes of nightfall altogether enhance the noir tone of the movie. The above features depict Los Angeles as a future noir city making it a basis of stimulation and admiration for architects and city designers.
The architecture portrayed in the film can also be analyzed using vertical noir (Spiegel, 2013). In the film, the socio-structural features presented through the architecture oblige Deckard, to work on a level never done previously by any other movie noir investigator of the time.
Through this, the movie depicts customary movie noir as an extensive, varying, and disordered American city signifying a mixture of exploitation and vainness. In the film, Deckard negotiates the realm of affluence and power. He illustrates that he is at odds with this world. His movements are at once deprived of terminuses and endings.
Dystopian city: postmodern city of ruins
The city illustrated in the film is a demonstration of post-industrial deterioration advanced out of the current conditions of our urban centers and the social command of late capitalism. In the movie, Los Angeles is not depicted as ultra-modern city but a post-modern city of deterioration and remnants (Blade Runner, 1982). In the city, generation of wastes has become a symbol of operative apparatus. Fast-tracked time takes over the chronicle of this futuristic city where the replicates are besieged with their four-year lifetime.
The whole city agonizes from illnesses as acidic rain threatens to corrode everything. With remnants such as the abandoned structure of J. F. Sebastian, the Blade Runner’s city turns out to be a town of ruins. The fused architectural scheme symbolizes the post-modern situations in the city.
Based on the above illustrations it is apparent that the film is a basis of stimulation and admiration for architects and city designers. Through the film, architects and city designers can predict how future structures will designed. Similarly, the analysis will identify future challenges to be expected from such structures. Through this, the relevant authorities and experts can formulate mitigation measures in advance.
Cityscape: Hong Kong cityscape and Blade Runner’s city
In the film, the Los Angeles cityscape resembles Hong Kong cityscape (Blade Runner, 1982). Through this illustration, the film emphasizes that there are higher chances that Los Angeles will likely to witness an increase in the Asian population in the future. The dominance of Asian features in the film has been used figuratively. As such, the elements enhance the movie’s futuristic aspect, which reconstructs the third world in the first world. Through this, an intercultural scenario is recreated.
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After watching the film, an individual will notice that there is definite brink of spaces amid colonial metropolis and the futuristic capitalist city. Colonial capitals have a higher chance of coming up with futuristic cityscape.
The above indicates a beginning of a near future where midpoints and margins do not embrace and where cultural skirmishes are at the point of eruption. Some of the scenes in the movie were shot in Hong Kong to enhance the postmodern architectural setting expected in the near future cities (Blade Runner, 1982). Notably, Asian cities have been an attraction for a number of directors seeking to produce a near future movie
In the peak scene, the movie portrays Gaff achieving his unicorn vision (Blade Runner, 1982). With this, Deckard’s vision is made an implant. The rooftop pursuit, the ultimate confrontation flanked by Roy and Deckard are illustrations of lived space in the movie. Given that the scene was shot in Hong Kong, it illustrates that the residences of this city are all Blade Runners. As such, the residents exist on the brink of time and empire. Furthermore, a viewer will note the architectural imitation in the movie.
For instance, the Hong Kong’s Times Square has a number of western imitations. The above illustrates a postmodern condition, which signifies both a failure of uniqueness and an effort to accommodate alteration. An analysis of the above features presented in the film is very useful for the architectures and city planners. It is for this reason that the movie has continued to be a source of stimulation and admiration for architects and city designers.
Estrangement in the cityscape: Uncanny city
Although the cityscape of Los Angeles is crumbling, the city experience of the dwellers is further convoluted in the movie. Notably, the purpose of juxtaposition and distance is rather bizarre. In Blade Runner, the foreigners appear to be made up of the whole populace. No inhabitants seem to be the indigenous residents in the city of Blade Runner. The replicates are illustrated through juxtaposition and remoteness. Replicates are depicted as outsiders in the movie. Humans expect them to be engaged in slave labor in terrestrial earth.
The film shows that humans are more connected to the replicates on terrestrial earth rather than replicates in their midst. For instance, Rachel in one of the scenes is referred to as she. However, after she undergoes the Voight Kamph test she is discovered to be a replicate (Redmond, 2008). After test, she is referred to as it. The above illustrates that the test detached her from the order of general similarity.
Throughout the movie, it seems that individuals existing in the under-belly, referred to as the small people in the movie, are also foreigners according to the city dwellers. When Deckard’s ability to be Blade Runner isolates him, he becomes a decisive foreigner in the city. Here, the audience doubts if he truly was a Blade Runner. The concept results in separation in the eerie city.
Even though the concept city is deteriorating, it should be noted that the social practice is unchanged. Concept city is used in reference to the communal administrative side of urban planning (Blade Runner, 1982). The concept city does not refer to the customary lived space. The above conflicts of transparency and opaqueness are perceived as analogous to the insight used in mapping urban centers. In this respect, it can be argued that the residents portrayed in the film exist in an environment of their own.
Although the city is rotting, the metropolis of social practice gives the impression that it is thriving contrary to the viewer’s expectations. The wealthy urban inhabitants of the city have retreated to terrestrial colonies. Other wealthy residents have retreated to pyramid like tall constructions. On the other hand, the town’s underbelly is packed with multitudes.
Using the above illustrations, the film depicts an arrangement of late capitalism. According to the movie, late capitalism is best illustrated by the three-dimensional representation of the urban experience. In these representations, the arrangement and planning of the urban centers are dictated by the financial structures at play.
In the film, the replicates function through the opposition strategy (Blade Runner, 1982). They work in a manner that alters antagonism into a character via assimilation.
The architectural aesthetic illustrated in the film suggests a distinctiveness, which is only understandable in relations to what deterioration and size has contributed by enhancing the potentials now existing in modern urban life. The troublesome likelihood of a relation with a replicate rises because of the acknowledgement of the existence of alteration. However, it should be noted that the movie’s architecture does not offer architecture for replicates.
The Tyrell head office appears to be sculpted on a Mayan shrine (Blade Runner, 1982). On the inside, its architecture and plan is wide-ranging. An ideal future is seized at bay by the size of the structure. With respect to the height of Deckard’s room, atrociousness signifies the imagined future. On the other hand, other architectural opportunities are provided by the alteration represented by the decay.
Through this, the replicate is perceived as a hazard to humanity. By doing so, the restraint prevailing in both the architecture and the movie is illustrated. It is for the above reason that the movie has continued to be a source of stimulation and admiration for architects and city designers.
In conclusion, it should be noted that architects and town planners are usually interested with the future structures and how they should be constructed. One way of predicting the design of future structures is to analyze the appearance of architectural features presented in the movies that focus on the future.
By analyzing the city and how the movie has been produced with respect to the cinematography and narrative, the article above sought to highlight how the film has been a basis of stimulation and admiration for architects and city designers.
As noted above, Blade Runner is one of the movies that have inspired architects and city planners. When Scott produced the film, he aimed at portraying a not so distant future. In spite of the film’s mucky horrific scenes, its cinematography and narrative depict Los Angeles as a futuristic cityscape. The movie integrates the use of aesthetics and narrative strategies to create a near future city.
Benjamin, A. (2000). Housing the Future : The Architecture of Blade Runner. Architectural Philosophy, 4(1). 112-123
Dempsey, M. (2010). Blade Runner Ridley Scott Michael Deeley. Film Quarterly, 12(3), 33-38.
Redmond, S. (2008). Studying Blade runner. Leighton Buzzard England: Auteur.
Scott, R. (Executive Producer). (1982). Blade runner [Motion picture]. California: Warner Home Video.
Spiegel, S. (2013). Filmanalyse: Blade Runner. Genreanalyse Eine Einführung, 12(1). 45-48