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Scientific Progression In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein And The Film, Blade Runner

1032 words - 4 pages

Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is an early 19th century cautionary tale examining the dark, self-destructive side of human reality and human soul. It is written in the Romantic era where society greatly valued scientific and technological advancement. Throughout the novel, Shelley expresses her concerns of extreme danger when man transgresses science and all ethical values are disregarded. The implications of debatable experimentation and thriving ambition could evoke on humanity are explored in the novel. Likewise, “Blade Runner”, a sci-fi film directed by Ridley Scott in 1982 is a futuristic representation of Los Angeles in 2019. The film reflects its key widespread fears of its time, particularly the augmentation of globalization, commercialism and consumerism. The film depicts a post-apocalyptic hell where bureaucracy and scientific endeavoring predominate in an industrial world of artifice and endless urban squalor.
“Frankenstein”, otherwise known as the “Modern Prometheus” explores the prominent theme of scientific progression and the transgression of science threatening religion in the post-Augustan age where society valued the power of the imagination and the spirit. Allusions to Coleridge works such as “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” act as an effective tool to re-iterate many Romantic values. Also, Shelley alludes to Galvani’s experimentations in the late 18th century to mirror that of Victor’s “infused spark of being” into a “monster of hideous proportions”. Shelley utilizes a framing device to parallel the expeditions of Walton to the trials of Victor through the use of Walton’s opening letters. Both men share an ambitious desire to achieve brilliance and fame such as to “discover the power of the needle…tread a land never imprinted by the foot of man”. Romantic values are epitomized as Walton states “I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm”.
Similarly, “Blade Runner” examines the danger of scientific advancement through the use of film noir elements. An establishing shot of Los Angeles highlights how scientific evolution has destroyed the environment resulting in an urban wasteland with a claustrophobic, polluted atmosphere personifying a physical representation of hell. Dissimilarly, the setting of “Frankenstein” embodies many romantic values such as “the changes of the seasons, tempest and calm”. Overt materialism and globalisation is shown through commercials of “Atari” and “Coca-cola” with the backdrop of non-diagetic music. Society values corporate greed derived from scientific discoveries ahead of the values of nature and emotion as “Frankenstein” embodies. Scott effectively uses mis-en-scene of film noir elements such as a misty room, silhouette figure and intense darkness in the interrogation of Leon to illustrate the superhuman power of replicants. Immense scientific advancement is contrasted through environmental degradation and genetically-engineered replicants that appear to be “more human than human”.

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