Blade Runner as a Classic Film Noir and a Science Fiction Film
Blade Runner, a well known 80’s science-fiction film, begins in 2019,
set in the industrial city of L.A., the scene lit only by the many
neon lights and molten guisers. We draw in from a panoramic long shot
to Deckard, ‘ex-cop, ex-killer, ex-blade-runner’, who is at the heart
of this film.
Blade Runner is, definitively, a science fiction film, but the traits
of Film Noir are the bread and butter, bringing it the dark, desperate
atmosphere that is the very beauty of the film. Ridley Scott plants
shrapnels of Film Noir throughout, from the subtle (cigars), to the
downright blatant (the washed-up cop of main man).
The genre itself developed in the post-war era, thriving upon the
depression that had settled upon the world, and the new technology.
The latter meant that scenes could be filmed outside of a studio, and
new effects could be created with lighting. However, though the new
technology was there, the after-math of the war meant that this
equipment was often quite rare, leading to the lower budget films
opting for stark, shadowy sets rather than miss out on the technology.
But this type of setting fitted perfectly into the style of Film Noir
anyway, as the feeling of the genre was reflecting the current mood,
which was far from happy.
The war had left some blind, and everyone else with brand new eyes,
people could no longer see everything at face value, or to put it
bluntly, the value of face had slumped. The world after war was no
place for the frilly and meaningless, and Hollywood, as the capital of
frill, had to come up with something new, and refreshingly sharp to
reflect the current mood. Edgy, moody, and slick, Film Noir did this
perfectly, showing the underbelly of the new modern life, the ugly
side of everything that was beautiful in the 50’s.
For example, the majority of Film Noir is set in Los Angeles, the
glitzy, glamour capital of America. But Film Noir wasn’t about glitz
and glamour, it was about the desperate, bitchy, brutality on the
other side of beautiful. The back streets of human nature. And
reigning the hour of darkness, beset upon Hollywood, was The Femme
Women had been elevated to a new height of independence during the
war, and The Femme Fatale was Hollywood’s beautifully malicious take
on the new, powerful female. Using her sexuality as her first weapon,
and her heel as the next, she held all the cards in Film Noir, and
never gave any away. Shoulder Pads, red lips, and a sharp cornered
handbag, the Femme Fatale was Eve in polyester, ruthlessly hunting
down loveless detectives, and tempting them to do stupid things with
fruit, or far more frequently, knives and handguns. Several actresses
carved a career from, well, being a bitch. Rita Hayworth for one, as