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A Metaphor of Postmodernism in Blade Runner

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 1149 words Published: 26th Aug 2021

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In the film Blade Runner directed by Ridley Scott, the film embodies many important characters aspects of the postmodern cultural period. The film is mostly about what it means to be human in a controlled technological advanced world, and the struggle between humans and replicants. Which are machines that are so much like humans you can’t tell them apart, but it has a deeper meaning of a world in the future and you can see this with the many symbols laid out in the film. In the film, it always rains and the sun never shines and the streets are narrow and filthy. The film revisits the past, mimics it and holds it up to ridicule. The freedom that humans give up so easily to machines so willing is the actual danger in the modern society which leads to a post-modern. The postmodernism can be noted from the architectural layout of the film to the waste all over the ground that later leads importance and connects postmodernism to industrialism.

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Post-modernity is on its way to the future, but then seeks shelter in the past; Blade Runner has many boundaries between past and present. The audience is told the film is set in the future in 2019, but there still happens to be a lot of evidence of the past such as; the eighties clothes and haircuts, the language and the technology looks extremely outdated. Another indication of the past is that Rachel dresses in a 50s clothes and the soundtrack of the film does not follow the normal drama movie music. The reasons why there is evidence of the past are that Blade Runner is a film based in the future that is afraid of the future. Films that are portrayed like this usually are made to warn people about the dangers around the corner. In post-modern films they present the unpresentable and what was formerly thought of as unsuitable. Blade Runner pushes into the future where the unreal becomes real and not just a fantasy or a possibility. Cars fly, and scientist can even plant memories into machines. These are two examples of the unreal being made real. These kinds of films portray that Postmodernism tends to place the most disturbing things into the everyday living of the characters. In the film Blade Runner the replicants escape on earth and are labelled extremely dangerous. They could be anywhere and they look like anyone. This can be seen as postmodernism being pussed into the future.

The film Blade Runner uses many symbols to illuminate post modernity such as the films use of the owl. The owl is not just an owl it is described in three ways a woman, an artificial creature and a product. The role of women is explored with the three lead female roles in the film which are all replicants, an artificial creature. Women in this film are label as model’s of pleasure and represent that they are just products that can be bought or sold. It gives a whole new meaning to the term woman being characterized by an object. These three things represent a link to the past where postmodern reveals its break with the past. These three things are the unreal made real into one thing where lines of force intersect and these are the places where modernity is transferred into post modernity to the description of a woman.

The film doesn’t take place in a spaceship with friendly aliens; the film takes place in Los Angeles 2019 in a city full of industries and waste placed in the postmodern period. The future which the film is set in, does not realize their technological order, but they see it as the development of the present day state of the city and the later effects of capitalism. The city is not a modern city, but a postmodern city. It is not an orderly layout of skyscrapers with comfy interiors. The high-tech buildings with high populations are set alongside abandoned buildings and neighbourhoods in decay. Due to the crowding of immigrants the middle class moves to the suburbs or off world if they choose. With a large portion of its people from other countries the melting pot effect of the culture clearly takes place the city explodes with the different cultures making the architectural work imitate the style of many previous works. In the film they have buildings that resemble Egyptian temples, China, France, and many more. The city itself is a huge Chinatown that is a large market of underground networks in all the regions of the city. With the explosion of immigrants and the moving of the middle-class results in an intercultural first world and third world in the same place. The uniqueness of the architecture and cultures in the film are lost in the postmodernism. Going forward in the future but still in the past and the structures from the past are recollected and they attempt to create an aroma of the memory of history and of the past.

Between postmodernism and late capitalism the film’s representation of this is the industrial decay, such as waste all over the city, rather the film creates an aroma of decay exposing the dark side of technology. It is the waste that the characters of the film constantly step in, and many of the buildings are left to disintegrate. The post-industrial decay is an acceleration of the overall time of the process of the industries. The postmodern visual of Blade Runner is the result of recycling and the system only works if there is waste produced. The disconnected temporality of the replicants and the pastiche city are all an effect of a postmodern, post-industrial condition: wearing out, waste. The continuous expulsion of waste is an indexing sign of the well- functioning apparatus: waste represents its production, movement, and development at increasing speed. Post-industrialism recycles; therefore it needs all the waste. A postmodern position exposes such logic, producing a visual of recycling. The artistic form exhibits the return of the waste. Consumerism, waste and recycling meet in fashion, the “wearable art” of late capitalism, a sign of postmodernism. Costumes in Blade Runner are designed according to this logic. There is even the increased speed of development and process produces the diminishing of distances. Things cease to function and life is over even if it has not ended. The post-industrial city is a city of ruins.

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Blade Runner has one main message: that the future is hopeless. It marks a new age by showing its own end. It is shown as industrial and dark, the raining weather and no sunshine which create a moody atmosphere. Technology has progressed so rapidly but, still manages to lack the new look. The postmodernism of this film is displayed throughout this whole film. It represents the chaos of what happens when the people rejected the modern period. It embodies the present pushing forward to the future as well as holding on to the past to create post-industrialism. The more technology we gain and control always has a bad side for everything.


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