Blade Runner

  • Category: Miscellaneous
  • Words: 1781
  • Grade: 85
Blade Runner: A technical Review


Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner is a 1982 film that depicts the future of the world in the year 2019. The setting takes place in Los Angeles, California. The set appears to have a half earth, half space look to it. The complexity of the buildings and the set plus the coloring and the constant fog give evidence that this movie was not filmed on location but instead in a specially designed studio. Harrison Ford plays Deckerd, an ex-blade runner who is given his old title back in hopes that he will stop the five Nexus 6 Replicants that have escaped from the off world to earth. Through the use of mise-en-scene and cinematography the director was able to foreshadow events as well as to portray the cold and dark attitudes and feelings of the future.
Lighting and colors are an important aspect in mise-en-scene. The opening scene starts out by panning slowly over the dark and foggy city. Mountains of fire are spit up into the air. The use of light, in this scene, helps to set the feeling for the entire movie. The city is dark and foggy like the Nexus characters. The fire spitting into the air gives the viewer a feeling of war. This foreshadows the war between the Blade Runners and the Replicants. The colors and lighting in this first scene resemble the colors and lighting used to depict visions of hell. Again, this is a way of setting the mood using mise-en-scene. This trend of dark lighting, rain and fog follow through out the entirety of the movie. The only character that has a bright glow to her is Rachel. She is shown in light that is brighter and warmer looking then any of the other light used. This represents her good side and places her on a different level then the other Replicants. The only two times sunlight is shown in the entire movie are once in the beginning when Deckerd comes to the Tyrell Corporations to test Rachel and then again at the end of the movie when Rachel and Deckerd drive off together. The lighting in all other scenes appears to be artificial and dull, usually illuminating the character's faces from the side. This gives the viewer a feeling of death and an over all state of depression.
One important aspect of mise-en-scene is the costume and makeup aspect of the movie. All throughout Blade Runner, the character's clothes are very dark and bland in color. The focus is drawn away from the clothes and instead drawn to the expressions people have. Each character's makeup resembles their qualities. For example, Rachel's makeup paints her face sweet yet seductive. Her bright red lipstick makes her stand out from the rest of the characters. Yet unlike Pris, whose makeup also brings her out of the crowd, Rachel appears innocent. Pris, who like Rachel is a Replicant, has dark, black circles drawn around her eyes while the rest of her face is ghostly white. The black around her eyes symbolizes two ideas. The first idea is to accent her eyes. The key to discovering a Replicant is the reaction their eyes have when certain emotions should be triggered. The second point to having the black circles around Pris' eyes is to reveal her evil side. Black is the color of death and of darkness. Batty, or Roy has bleach blond hair. He and Pris are the only characters with light colored hair. However Pris' makeup takes away from her hair causing Roy's hair to stand out even more. This contrast sets him aside from all the rest. This is appropriate for him, as he is the leader of the Nexus 6 Replicants or as Tyrell called him, "the protical son." All of the Replicants with the exception of Rachel and Pris, have dark eye shadow on. This causes their eyes to stand out and look more evil. With the use of dark, bland clothing and distinguishing makeup, the viewer focuses more on each individual's face rather than their entire being.
Two aspects of cinematography are the duration of an image in a clip and the speed of motion. In most scenes, the image is held in the clip for a long time. This is to put emphasis on the tension and stress that the characters feel as they slowly move through the world. In the scene where Pris and Deckerd are fighting, the duration of the images are short as the camera moves from one character to the next showing the struggle in both of their faces. In the scene that Roy plunges out Mr. Tyrell's eyes, the image of Tyrell's eyes and the blood dripping down lasts for a while. This is to show the anger, resentment and pure evil of the Nexus 6 Replicants as well as the strength they have. This scene also represents evil putting evil in its place. In the scene where Rachel kills Leon the camera focuses for an extended period of time on Rachel holding the gun. This portrays the importance of the fact that Rachel not only saved Deckerd's life, but she killed one of her own kind. Again this is an example of Rachel being portrayed as good and not evil. When Roy dies, the camera switches back and forth from Roy to Deckerd, holding both characters in the viewpoint for extended periods of time. Also, they both appear to be motionless in these clips. The use of this technique is to portray the emotions and the ease that are now running through Roy as he surrenders and dies and through Deckerd as he completes his mission. In the scene where Pris is dying, she is shot and then falls onto the ground. Her body flips around and as the light hits, there is an effect of electrocution. This is symbolism that although appearing human, the Replicants were actually more like computers. This is example of fast moving motion. At the end of Roy and Deckerd's fight, Roy saves Deckerd from falling off of the building. The shot shows Roy pulling Deckerd up very slowly as if to show his strength is fading as he slowly starts to die. An example of a long take is when Gap is driving Deckerd to meet Brian in an office to look at the pictures of the Replicants. Here the camera pans the city as if it were being viewed through the car. Another example of this is when Deckerd is driving in the tunnel. The camera pans the car driving though the tunnel and then shoots Deckerd in the car before returning to panning the car driving through the tunnel. These clips supply time passing for other events to be taking place. Through the speed of motion and the duration of a shot, the director and cinematographer can reveal emotions and feelings to viewers with out having the actors and actresses say any words.
Another important aspect of Cinematography is the level, height, angle and distance of the camera. Throughout most of the movie, the camera is kept at eye level with the characters. Whether the character is sitting, standing or laying down, the camera maintains height at an eye level. In the scene right before Deckerd is checking his lead and searching Leon's apartment, the camera angle is a high angle framing looking down on Deckerd and his colleague as they cross the street to the apartment. This long high-angled shot provides the feeling of uncertainty. The characters appear to be far away from the viewer and from the light. Thus putting them in darkness and symbolizing their lack of knowledge. Again there is a high-angled shot when Deckerd is walking into the place where he talks to the guy about the snake scale. The majority of the shots range from medium shots to extreme close ups. The extreme close ups are of eyes. Usually the eyes of Replicants as shown in the beginning of the movie when Leon is being tested. The close up of the eye that early in the movie gives the viewer the idea of how important the eye is to uncovering Replicants and it also sets a trend for the remainder of the movie. Again and example of this is when Rachel is being tested and an extreme close up of her eye is shown. The only extreme close up of an eye that is not the eye of a Replicant is the extreme close up of the owl's blood red eye right after Mr. Tyrell's death. The first time Rachel comes to visit Deckerd, every shot of her is a close up. Her face shows emotion which she, as a Replicant, is not supposed to feel. These close ups show this emotion on Rachel's face and create in the viewer a feeling that Rachel really is different then the other Replicants. Another close up is in the scene where Jeff startles Pris when she is laying in the trash. Again this close up portrays the character having feelings as well as the spookiness of her Replicant eyes. Towards the end of the movie, Roy is starting to die. A close up is shown of him to represent his unhappiness of dying. These close ups illustrate the emotions that Replicants are supposedly not feeling. It shows with visuals that the reason the Replicants have risked coming back to earth is to find a way to prolong their lives. The ending scene, just as in the beginning scene, is a long shot. The difference being the ending is bright and the camera pans over the lush, green, sunny land instead of the dark, foggy, rainy city. Through these camera shots and angles the director can point out important moments and pieces of information to the viewers.
Without mise-en-scene and cinematography being as important as they are in a movie, a lot of ideas as well as the use of imagery would be lost. These two ideas add many aspects to film making and watching. They provide for a better movie both visually and mentally. As seen in Blade Runner, lighting, costumes, makeup, setting, speed of motion, camera movements, duration of images, camera angles, height, levels and distances are all very important in the making of a technically good movie.

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