Film Review

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The film ‘Blade Runner’ (1982) deals with the issues of rising global population, megacities and the fear of dark skinned people taking over the cities and the dehumanising and sterilising effect of the soulless bureaucracy and corporations and their increasing control over human lives along with the rise in technology. If we subtract all the ‘science fiction’ elements of the film the basic story can be read as a noir film about a police detective hunting down criminals in the ghettos of a big city.

All these fear are based upon the actual fears or exaggerations of the actual fears of modern day audiences. In the 1980’s white people had abandoned or were in the process of abandoning the large cities and had established their communities in the suburban areas (Bartley 2000, p. 123).

The city of Los Angeles depicted in the film is an overcrowded city, bursting at the seams, full of dark skinned people who, by their looks, seem to be Hispanic or belonging to some Asian ethnicity (Sohn 2008, p. 16). It is suggested that white people have all but abandoned the Earth and are living in off-world colonies.

The replicants can themselves be thought of as a type of persecuted racial minority. They look like humans physically and internally, the only way to tell a replicant apart from a human is through the ‘Voight-Kampff machine’. This is a machine which tests the body’s responses to questions that would be disturbing to a human. The replicants are used as slave labour in off-world colonies, when they escape to Earth they are hunted down and killed.

The fear of government mind control is also voiced in the film. Human mastery over the brain has grown to the extent that it is possible to record the memories of one person and implant them into a replicant. Rachael is a prototype, advanced replicant who has been implanted with the memories of the niece of Dr. Eldon Tyrell, who is the owner of the Tyrell Corporation that manufactures replicants. Rachael does not know that she is a replicant believing that the implanted memories are her own. In fact it is strongly hinted that the hero Deckard himself is a replicant.

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