“Core concepts and powerful presentations never lose their relevance with time, even if the authors communicating these ideas change they way the ideas are represented.”
Despite being subjected to different context, central ideas and core concepts such as the dire perils of playing God, hubris and the loss of humanity as a result of radical social and economic change continue to resonate throughout time. The epistolary novella, Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley portrays society’s fear of natural philosophy and advancements in Galvanism and its effect on traditional values and humanity. Similarly the film; Bladerunner: the Directors cut (1992) by Ridley Scott projects a dystopic world reflecting the mass commercialisation and globalisation of the 1980’s. Hence despite being portrayed in transcending contexts and literary types; central ideas about the unbridled use of technology, creationism and the inhumanity it brings never lose their relevance.
One of the most fundamental ideas explored in Shelley’s Gothic Romantic, early science fiction epistolary; Frankenstein is the disruptive and destructive nature of unbridled scientific developments, knocking upon on the “fortifications” that locked the “citadel of nature”. Shelley’s insight is most salient through her characterisation of Victor, initially depicted as an “innocent and helpless creature bestowed to by heaven”, asserting his agrarian upbringing through the, “the sublime shapes of the mountains”. Gradually however, victor becomes seduced by the power of science that could “penetrate into the recesses of nature and show how she works in her hiding-places”; the blatant degradation and undermining of Nature’s power and Gothic Romantic principles in seeking the “unlimited powers’ of natural philosophy.
Shelley then portrays the punishment for transcending the boundaries of man through her juxtaposition in “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world”, with victor overstepping his role as mere man. She demonstrate both the physical and mental denigration of person and spirit through a motif of illness and intoxication; “profane fingers” and whose ,“cheeks became gaunt and hollow” as the “decomposition” that unchecked science brings. Finally, that Victor is left with, “nothing but a dense and frightful darkness” fulfils Shelley’s allegory of the irresponsible use of technology and the propensity of man to play God.
Although in a vastly different context, the film director Ridley Scott in the same way comments and forebodes the ominous consequences and imminent downfall of a commodified humanity that ruthlessly pursues the powers of creation in Bladerunner, demonstrating the context transcending nature of powerful presentations and core concepts. Scott’s double for Victor is the creator CEO Alden Tyrell, who hubris is symbolised by his towering ziggaraut rises from the city as a symbol of omnipotence. His dwelling is surrounded by ecclesiastical items; Egyptian urns, Greek pillars and Roman eagles communicating his position as creator and ruler. Yet like Victor, he too is an uncaring creator, using his creation only for amusement, “indulge me”, “Rachel is an experiment, nothing more,” and similarly failing as a responsible creator. Furthermore Tyrell’s egotistical nature is epitomised by his abode portrayed in the scene of his death; costumed in robes of white, symbolic of Godhood, lit by ambient key lighting of flickering candles and shaded by layers of gold; metaphorical of the conjunction of commerce, creation and religion; his assertion to Batty, “You are the prodigal son… quite a prize,” embodies his hubris as creator and merchant.
As such Tyrell’s ironic ultra-violent death, created with an ultra close up and diegetic sound of high pitched orchestra and the distinctive ‘popping’ of his skull alludes to his promethean punishment – the extreme torture of his death, like Victor’s death, is a metaphor for the eternal suffering. As such, it is through Scott’s parallel reflection upon the dire consequences reckless pursuits for power, profit and Godhood that portrays the ideal that similar notions despite vastly transcending contexts and representation that shows the core concepts never lose their relevance with time.
Furthermore; the gothic romantic author Shelley explores the degradation of humanity and spirituality as a result of secularisation of society in an industrial and technologically changing society. Shelley communicates this perversion of humanity through the creation, growth and finally metamorphosis of her creature. As Victor’s double, the creature appreciates the, “sublime shapes of the mountains”, is captivated by “Paradise Lost, Plutarch’s Lives and the Sorrows of Werter” illustrating its capacity to “bring to ecstasy” and “sink into … the lowest dejection”, demonstrating the creature’s fundamental human emotions and feelings. However Shelly orchestrates the allegorical down fall of the creature through its rejection from “Adam”, whom, “God made after his own image,” juxtaposing the fact that, “[its] form is a filthy type of [Mans]”; the biblical allusion to Adam; a product of God in contrast to the creature, a product of Galvanism outlines its inhumanity and the catalyst of its downfall.
As the creature commits to “be a force of desolation”. Shelley’s hyperbolic style of the monster’s rhetoric, “There was none… that existed who would pity or assist me”, that it would have “glutted” on “misery”, demonstrates the disconnection resultant from rejection of connection with God and nature. As such through the portrayal of the creature’s imminent descent morally, mentally and physically as a result of association with industrialisation, Shelley is able to demonstrate the degeneration of the principles of humanity as a result of industrialisation.
A similar disruption of human values technological genesis is explored by the director Ridley Scott in his 1992 film representation of “Bladerunner”. The post-modernism director comments upon a similar disruption of humanity in a different consumerist, globalised society and its commodification of ‘life’ itself as products. Like Shelley, Scott draws the doubling of human versus replicant through the inhumanity of his human characters and the humanity of his replicant antagonists. Leon clearly demonstrates anxiety and curiosity;” What turtle? … What desert? … What you do mean its not helping?”, Whilst his double – Holden, is shot at eye level with machines, speaking through a synthesized voice, dictating a scenario where the human and the product are hard to differentiate.
Scott demonstrates a strong pursuit of life and happiness by the Replicants, just as the creature seeks the creator’s love and a companion.The desire to not “retire” is saliently illustrated by the zooming slow motion dolly shot of Zhora crashing through the mall. The mis-en-scene display her escape through panes of glass surrounded boxing mannequins donning neon “chains”. Symbolic of her attempt to escape her fate as a product. The final close up of her near naked body with a pair of wing like blood splatter is symbolic of a fallen angel objectified and barcoded by a commerce driven society. As such, it is through a similar critique of the corruption of traditional values and humanity by commercialism and technology that further portrays timelessness of core concepts despite varying representations.
In conclusion it can be seen through the varying representations of parallel ideas in vastly differently contexts by the Gothic Romantic author Shelley and post modern director Ridley Scott, that core concepts and power representations are timeless in nature and do not lose relevance regardless of era.
Clear contextual analysis, strong link, consistent cross referencing.
By L.L 2012