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Monstrous Worlds:
Frankenstein & Bladerunner
Frankenstein Extracts Analysis: Emilys Notes
All extracts from Mary Shelleys Frankenstein are taken from the Penguin Classics
Edition, published 1992, with an introduction and notes by Mauice Hindle.
1. The Fall: Critiquing Idealism & Hubris
- Mary Shelley establishes her critique of male
idealism and hubris from the outset of the text. She
uses Walton as a frame narrator to strengthen this
inestimable benefit which I shall
critique his unbridled egoism in discovering a
confer on all mankind to the last
passage near the pole echoes Victors quest to
generation, by discovering a
penetrate nature and pour a torrent of light into
passage near the pole to those
our dark world.
countries (p. 13)

I entered with the greatest

diligence into the search for the
philosophers stone and the elixir
of life wealth was an inferior
object; but what glory would
attend the discovery, if I could
banish disease from the human
frame and render man invulnerable
to any but a violent death! (pp.

This extract reveals Waltons search for everlasting

fame and the expectation that he will earn the
gratitude of humanity by conferring an
inestimable benefit on all mankind note his
tone of certainty and use of absolutes and
intensifying adjectives his diction is enthusiastic
as is Victors in this extract. Evidently, Victor too
believed that his discovery would also benefit all of
mankind and bring him glory.

Given the language of absolutism and use of

superlatives, we are provoked to question the
wisdom of both Walton and Victor. Waltons mixed
metaphor in this extract a point on which the
soul may fix its intellectual eye furthers our doubts
as such a fixed or absolute ideal seems to go
against nature itself. Moreover, Waltons grandiose
idea that he might obtain a niche in the temple
where the names of Homer and Shakespeare are
consecrated further reveals his arrogance and the
over-ambition inherent in his journey. His use of

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...I feel my heart glow with an

enthusiasm which elevates me to
heaven; for nothing contributes so
much to tranquillize the mind as a
steady purpose a point on which
the soul may fix its intellectual
eye I also became a poet, and for
one year lived in a Paradise of my
own creation; I imagined that I
also might obtain a niche in the
temple where the names of Homer
And now, dear
Margaret, do I not deserve to
accomplish some great purpose?
My life might have been passed in
ease and luxury; but I preferred
glory to every enticement that
wealth place in my path. (pp. 1415)
No one can conceive the variety of
feelings, which bore me onwards
like a hurricane, in the first
enthusiasm of success. Life and
death appeared to me ideal
bounds, which I should first break
through and pour a torrent of light
into our dark world. A new species
would bless me as its creator and
source (p. 52)

quasi-religious diction niche in the temple and

consecrated imply the quasi-divine status to
which he aspires, this, in conjunction with his
repetitious use of first person pronouns reinforce
his hubris.

Similarly, Victor, in this extract, compares himself

to the God of Genesis when describing his ideal of
pour[ing] a torrent of light into our dark world
and, like Walton, aspires to a divine status by
having a new species bless him as creator and

Given the enormous egos of both men and their

brazen pursuit of glory, we are encouraged to feel
uncomfortable with their ambitions. As a result,
when Victor narrates his fall, it comes as no
surprise to the reader.

In this extract, given his fatal hubristic flaw

Frankenstein realises all too late that his ambition
of pursuing nature in all her hiding places is
morally wrong. He looks upon his creation with
breathless horror and disgust as his previous
idealistic notion of banish[ing] disease from the
human frame is shattered. Given the Christian
contextual influences on the novel, Victor
immediately regrets what he has done, calling the
Monsters creation a catastrophe; a recognition
that he has broken the laws of nature this
contrasts with Tyrell in Bladerunner, who openly
admires his Replicants.

How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with
such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had
selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the
world of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of
pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes,
that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his
shrivelled complexion and straight black lips now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream
vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. (p. 56)

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Meeting the Maker

Devil, I exclaimed, do you dare
approach me? And do not you
fear the fierce vengeance of my
arm wreaked on your miserable
head? Begone, vile insect!
Remember, that I am thy
creature; I ought to be thy
Adam, but I am rather the fallen
angel, who thou drivest from joy
for no misdeed. Everywhere I see
bliss, from which I alone am
irrevocably excluded. I was
benevolent and good; misery
made me a fiend. Make me
happy, and I shall again be
Begone! I will not hear you.
There can be no community
between you and me; we are
enemies. (pp. 96-97)

Both texts contain a prodigal son scene, which is

well worth comparing. In both cases, the creators
human fallibility is evident: Victor responds to the
Monsters demands for happiness by being
righteously indignant, refusing to listen, outraged
that this devil would dare approach him. Tyrell,
on the other hand, matter-of-factly reminds Roy
that more life is beyond his jurisdiction.

Here, Victors derogatory greeting Devil and vile

insect show his disgust for his creation, whilst his
repetition of begone conveys his refusal to listen,
heightening his failure as creator and the guilt he
feels over his attempt to usurp the divine privilege
of creation.

By contrast, In Bladerunner, far from disgusted by

Roys return, Tyrell seems to admire his creation
until his death. In this way, Tyrell, unlike
Frankenstein, does not experience his fall until the
moment Roy kills him. Notice that Tyrell greets Roy
with the hollow platitude the light that burns
twice as bright burns half as long and flattery look
at you, youre the prodigal son, youre quite a
prize; he adopts a soothing tone to comfort Roy,
however the sincerity in this is undermined by the
clichs he uses.

Both creations have determinist arguments the

Monster asserts I was benevolent and good;
misery made me a fiend. Make me happy and I
shall again be virtuous. Similarly, Roy argues that
he deserves more life, with the film showing from
the outset that the misery experienced by the
Replicants knowledge of their limited lifespan has
also, like Shelleys Monster, caused them to do
questionable things.

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2. Nature, Nurture & Knowledge

You seek for knowledge and
wisdom, as I once did; and I
gratification of your wishes may
not be a serpent to sting you, as
mine has been when you
reflect that you are pursuing the
same course, exposing yourself
to the same dangers which have
rendered me what I am, I
imagine that you may deduce an
apt moral from my tale (pp.

- The relationship between nature, nurture and

knowledge is pervasive in the story of Frankenstein
because the central action the creation of the
Monster is shown to be a sin against nature; the
very consequence of the unbridled pursuit of
knowledge. Moreover, Shelley appears to take a
abandonment of the Monster and subsequent
failure to provide adequate nurture responsible for
the Monsters violent behaviour.

- Thus, the text operates as a cautionary tale against

hubris brought about as a result of pursuing
knowledge. This is reflected in Frankensteins
warning to Walton in this extract; the biblical
metaphor I ardently hope that the gratification of
your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you
equating the acquirement of knowledge with the

After this, Victor begins narrating his tale in earnest,

repeatedly referring to his thirst for knowledge.
In particular, Frankenstein draws our attention to
the influence of Professor Waldmans lecture.
Throughout this lecture, Shelley has drawn on wellknown scientific advancements such as galvanism
and Sir Humphrey Davys ideas about chemistry to
make the lecture convincing. However, in
characterising Waldman as overly enthusiastic
about the achievements of modern chemists,
Shelley has crafted quite the feminist critique of
male hubris and the influence of her personal
context as the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft
becomes clear. For instance, Waldman personifies
nature as a female with recesses and hiding
places that modern chemists can penetrate into
to show how she works. Thus, science in
Frankenstein is a gendered masculine pursuit, able
to dominate and control the feminine nature.

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Moreover, Waldman also suggests that the chemist

plays a god-like role with almost unlimited power
to command, mimic and mock. These words
are significant to Victors story as his creation of the
Monster is clearly a mimicry of nature and becomes
a mockery of both nature and the study of science.
Thus, unlike Sir Humphrey Davy who thought it was
important for scientists to maintain their respect
and reverence in their approach to nature and
ought to use knowledge carefully and responsibly,
not for personal glorification but for its wider
benefits, Victor is encouraged by Waldmans
lecture to pursue scientific discovery with
uncontrollable fervour.

As he [the professor] went on I

felt as if my soul were grappling
with a palpable enemy; one by
one the various keys were
touched which formed the
mechanism of my being: chord
after chord was sounded, and
soon my mind was filled with one
thought, one conception, one
purpose. So much has been
done, exclaimed the soul of
Frankenstein - more, far more,
will I achieve: treading in the
steps already marked, I will
pioneer a new way, explore
unknown powers, and unfold to
the world the deepest mysteries
of creation. (pp. 46-47)

- This can be seen when he describes his response to

Professor Waldmans lecture the musical
metaphor conveying Frankenstein as helpless in the
wake of the possibilities of scientific discovery; a
notion reinforced by his use of passive verbs keys
were touched and chord after chord was
sounded. Moreover the chiming repetition of one
in one thought, one conception, one purpose
reveals his single-mindedness and, given his
swelling hubris, rings like a bell of doom.

Thus, through her characterisation of Frankenstein,

Shelley reflects Sir Humphrey Davys argument that
scientific knowledge ought to be accompanied by a
respect and reverence for nature; a perspective
heightened by her Romantic beliefs.

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The weight upon my spirit was

sensibly lightened as I plunged
yet deeper in the ravine of Arve.
The immense mountains and
precipices that overhung me on
every side the sound of the
river raging among the rocks, and
the dashing of the waterfalls
around, spoke of a power mighty
as Omnipotence and I ceased
to fear, or to bend before any
being less almighty than that
which had created and ruled the
elements, here displayed in their
terrific guise A tingling long-lost
sense of pleasure often came
across me during this journey.
Some turn in the road, some new
object suddenly perceived and
recognised, reminded me of days
gone by, and were associated
with the light-hearted gaiety of
boyhood. The very winds
whispered in soothing accents,
and maternal nature bade me
weep no more. Then again the
kindly influence ceased to act I
found myself fettered again to
grief and indulging in all the
misery of reflection (pp.91-92)

Further evidence of the importance of respect and

reverence for nature is seen in Victors reaction to
his natural surroundings on his journey through the
Arve ravine. In this extract he acknowledges the
omnipotent power of nature; reflective of Shelleys
pantheist beliefs. This passage also takes on a
Wordsworthian quality as communing with nature
initially lightens Victors spirit as maternal nature
bade me weep no more. Significantly, however,
Victor associates these harmonious feelings with
boyhood. In reality, Frankensteins transgression
renders him unable to enjoy a permanently
harmonious relationship with nature. Rather, he
can only experience the kindly influence
intermittently before returning to a state of grief.
Clearly, we, like Victor are unable to forget his fall
Shelley suggesting that neither the healing power
of nature nor its maternal qualities are powerful
enough to repair Frankensteins transgression. The
repeated references to the Book of Genesis,
Miltons Paradise Lost and Coleridges The Rime of
the Ancient Mariner both implicit and explicit, as
well as the distinctly Wordsworthian descriptions of
the power and omnipotence of Nature indicate the
rich literary context on which the text is based.

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[After observing the cottagers

and reflecting upon the nature of
humankind] I cannot describe to
you the agony that these
reflections inflicted upon me: I
tried to dispel them, but sorrow
only increased with knowledge.
Oh, that I had forever remained
in my native wood, nor known
nor felt beyond the sensations of
hunger, thirst and heat! Of what
a strange nature is knowledge! It
clings to the mind, when it has
once seized on it, like a lichen on
the rock I heard of all the
various relationships which bind
one human being to another in
mutual bonds. But where were
my friends and relations? (p.

In this extract we see the Monsters reaction to the

acquisition of knowledge that it brings suffering.
The Monsters narrative, unlike Victors, tells of the
knowledge of human nature, which brings
understanding of corruption and cruelty. However,
through the simile it clings to the mind, like a
lichen on the rock the Monster acknowledges that
once gained, knowledge cannot be surrendered,
rather it becomes part of our human experience; a
sentiment echoed by Roy when he says that all he
has seen will be lost like tears in rain.

Through her exploration of knowledge, both

Victors thirst for knowledge and the Monsters
understanding of human nature, Shelley suggests
that her story is analogous to the tree of knowledge
in Genesis in the sense that knowledge brings
suffering and a fall. This is clear in Victors case
his attempt to usurp Gods power results in his
expulsion from the innocence of his Eden-like
childhood something he can only access via
nostalgic reminiscence. In the case of the Monster,
he too experiences a fall by losing his innocence
when he learns of human nature and his own origin
as seen in this extract:
Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster
so hideous that even you turned from me in
disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and
alluring, after his own image; but my form is a
filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the
very resemblance. Satan has his companions,
fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but
I am solitary and abhorred Increase of
knowledge only discovered to me more clearly
what a wretched outcast I was. (pp. 126-127)

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3. Society, Class & Injustice

[After the Monster has listened to Felix teach Safie from Volneys Ruins of Empires] Every
conversation of the cottagers now opened new wonders to me. While I listened to the
instructions which Felix bestowed upon the Arabian, the strange system of human society was
explained to me. I heard of the division of property, of immense wealth and squalid poverty; of
rank, descent, and noble blood.

The words induced me to turn toward myself. I learned that the possessions most esteemed by
your fellow creatures were, high and unsullied descent united with riches. A man might be
respected with only one of these advantages; but without either he was considered, except in
very rare instances, as a vagabond and a slave, doomed to waste his powers for the profits of
the chosen few! (pp. 116-117)

Shelley also uses the Monsters narrative as a means of critiquing her own society. In this
extract, the Monster is an innocent observer and his uniquely ignorant point of view enables
Shelley to strip away our familiarity with society and perceive it afresh.

The Monster lists what he learns of society: of the division of property, of immense wealth
and squalid poverty; of rank, descent and noble blood. This, coupled with the Monsters
tone of surprise at the new wonders of this strange system amount to a radical critique
of the foundation of capitalist Europe. This critique is continued as Shelley points to the
social values of wealth and birth, which is contrasted with the man of no advantages
rendered as a vagabond and a slave, doomed to waste his powers for the profits of the
chosen few! in this way, Frankenstein is clearly a texts that harks forward to Marxism.

Thus, Shelleys critique of industrialised England and the subsequent oppression of the
working classes is unmistakable. Moreover, the Monster who is created by a member of
the ruling classes, ugly, dangerous, hated, rejected and ultimately violent, effectively
symbolises both the oppressed working classes and the revolutionaries in France; a group
commonly referred to as monsters in the public writing of the time.

Finally, it is also worth considering that Shelley not only critiques the social injustice of her
time, but, through the Monsters naivety, also satirises the blinding innocence of those, like
William Godwin and Percy Shelley who tried to live by radical ideals. Both men were
opponents of marriage and private property, idealistically believing that society could be
organised according to the dictates of reason hence rendering laws and governments
unnecessary. As such beliefs fail to take into account the selfish motives of individuals, both
men (like the Monster) learnt of the realities of human nature in a way that brought them
much suffering.

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Thus, with such political significances, Shelley incorporates another warning into her
cautionary tale: through the unequal distribution of wealth, the class system and the
exploitation of the working classes, the European ruling classes are responsible for creating a
formidable opponent that will rebel with destructive fury.

Bladerunner Scene Analysis: Anthonys Notes

Tyrells Hubris The Fall

Open here on a long shot of the pinnacle of one of Tyrells twin pyramids. The randomised
lights that adorn the side of the building establish it as a corporate headquarters or office

Cross-cut back to the extreme close-up of the eye, flames now dominate the superimposed
image. The juxtaposition of flames with the tranquil pyramid in this cross-cut establishes a
relationship between the pyramid and the natural devastation that is being wrought upon
the environment.

Cut to an aerial dolly on approach to the pinnacle of Tyrells pyramid. The scene ends with
the anticipation of what magic will be revealed within the pyramid. The combination of
previous shots of the pyramid, with the skyward pointing lights and the blue glimmer of the
buildings all connote that something hubric, affronting both God and Nature, is occurring

Twin towers 1st in 1972 and 2nd in 1973.

Feminist critique undeniably a phallic symbol

Prodigal Son
The scene is low lit and high contrast, with the colouration being primarily golden. This adds
to the feeling that the scene is taking place in the Heaven of Biomechanics. The scene is
filled with Biblical references and allusions. Throughout the series of conversational closeups between Tyrell and Batty, and the obscured close-ups of a partially concealed JF
Sebastian, there are references to:

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The Prodigal Son (Luke 15: 11-32)

The Fall of Lucifer (Isaiah 14:12-18) , which is also a reference to Milton
Judas kisses Jesus and betrays Him (Matthew 26:49-50)
The references to Light also alludes to Genesis

All of these add to the cultural cache of the monster returning to plague the inventor, that is
already familiar to us from Shelleys Frankenstein, but is, perhaps, best articulated in
Shakespeares Macbeth: But in these cases we still have judgment here that we but teach
bloody instructions, which, being taught, return to plague the inventor (Act 1, Sc. 7).

The gouging of Tyrells eyes by Batty is rendered graphically in a extreme closeup high angle
of the former and low angle of the latter. A cutaway to an extreme close-up of the artificial
owls disparate eyes reinforces the key theme here: Science may be able to produce or
reproduce anything it wants, but it can not manufacture a soul. Batty is here not simply
trying to achieve catharsis by killing his maker, he is trying, in reference to the adage that
the eyes are the gateways to the soul established at the films outset, to crush whatever is
left of Tyrells soul.

This scene encapsulates the films central message: that the inventions of humanity
designed in a hubric attempt to transcend the limitations of humanity have resulted in the
destruction of humanity. The high operative soundtrack is here used to further evocate the
extent of the transgression against God/Nature.

Opening Scene Nature, Nurture and Knowledge:

Establishing shot = Extreme aerial long shot.

Low lighting allows for high contrast with the high colour saturated flames exploding

Red-tinged skyline in the background.

All this adds to an Establishing Shot that is reminiscent of Dante Alighieris description of
Hell in the first part of The Divine Comedy, The Inferno.

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The Vangelis soundtrack is a postmodern concoction of orchestral and synthetic sounds. The
amalgam is metonymic of the entire film; the orchestral sounds are resonate of a classical
cautionary tale of hubris, while the synthetic sounds establish the film instantly as a
cautionary science-fiction tale. Overall, the effect is one of establishing a very ominous tone
from the films outset.

Slow aerial dolly.

The flying cars that fly towards the screen are intended to be startling, Scott uses lens flares
to make their approach blinding. Adding to the intertextuality of the scene, these cars are
reminiscent of Icarus, a story closely related to the Promethean myth that served as
Shelleys primary inspiration for Frankenstein.

Cut to another aerial long shot. A fire plume is foregrounded.

Cut to extreme close-up of a eye, upon which a reflection of the previous city vista is

Cut to an extreme aerial long shot, a different one now that has at its centre two pyramids
in the background, with lights shining skyward. The allusion to Ancient Egyptian power and
mysticism is unmistakable.

Relate back to Hubris.

Artificial Snake Nature, Nurture and Knowledge

Open on wide high-angle crane shot. High colour saturated neon. Slowly descends to street
level. Non-descript Oriental soundtrack makes environment seem foreign and foreboding.
Humanity is no longer at home amidst its environment ironically, this is a man-made
environment. Contextual concerns of Japanese economic boom and commensurate cultural
impact upon America, both economically and socially. The fear-mongering in many of the
films exterior shots may be indicative of either Scotts latent Nipponophobia or is a
comment upon Americas.

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Turns into slow pan.

Dialogue is shot in a series of midshot, close-ups, extreme close-ups. The extreme close-ups
show Deckards sample at a cellular level most striking is the serial number that is
imprinted. A potent symbol of both mankinds hubris in playing God and enslaving Nature to
its own ends, as well as a reminder of how humanity had destroyed nature irrevocably. The
symbolism here is equally applicable to either theme and can be related well to
Frankensteins earlier experiments with Galvanism in re-animating frogs.

The reverse dolly further highlights the alien nature of the environment for Deckard. As well
as further evincing the theme of humanitys enslavement of Nature, in the bird cages that
can be seen to the left of the screen and in the men carrying ostriches.

Scene ends with a pan left to show a snake in a glass cage. One last symbol of humanitys
submission of Nature into a consumer item for its amusement.

Tears in the rain

Opens on a high angle midshot, establishing the dominance of Roy. Roys near nakedness at
this point is a symbol of his close communion with Nature.

High angle establishes Deckards precarious safety.

Low angle extreme closeup shows us the bemused and benevolent face of Roy Batty. Now
that he has killed God, in the form of Tyrell, he has become God. A God of compassion,
rather than one of subjugation.

Roys rhetorical questioning of Deckard is directed as much at the audience as it is at the

character. Connecting to earlier comments on the contextual concerns of 1980s
globalisation legitimising the economic outsourcing of slavery, the Replicants again stand as
a powerful symbol of the underclass of slave labourers which support the hedonistic
consumerism of the developed world. A concern dealt with in Shelleys proto-Marxist text


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and continued here by Scott; which demonstrates a continuum of concern for the theme of
class struggle.

Arguably, the most famous shot of the film is the above long shot of Deckard holding onto
his life by his fingertips. Perhaps, also an allegorical symbol of the precarious nature of the
upper classes dominance of the oppressed worker; if one were to apply a Marxist reading.

The closeup of Roy Battys hand again reminds of his stigmata from an earlier scene and
deepens the analogy between himself and Jesus the Christ.

The midshot of Roy being backlit by the neon TDK sign is particularly ripe for analysis. In it,
we see Roy seated in the Lotus position, deepening the resonance with a Saviour like figure,
be it Buddha or Jesus. The low lighting and deep shadows make the high colour saturated
neon lightly washes the shot with artificial light. The bright dove Roy holds in his hand is
clearly visible. Together, the TDK sign and its glow with the white dove summarily symbolise
the conflict between artifice and Nature that is at the core of the both texts; Frankenstein
and Bladerunner.

Roys self-eulogises in closeup in a manner reminiscent of the monster from Frankensteins

monologue on pg.126-127 about how the more he learnt about the world the more he
realised he was an outcast, and the more he felt a sense of anomie from society the more
he appreciated the ingratitude of those fortunate enough to be accepted.

Deckard here plays the part of Frankenstein. And it is worth noting the ironic difference
between the role of creator and executioner.

Like tears in the rain Roys environmental simile again reinforces the pantheistic nature
of both texts. Nature is the Grand Trope to which all things belong and to believe oneself to
exist outside of its scope, is sheer hubris. Roy, in this baptismal scene, has come to accept
his own mortality and his place in the cycle of Nature and is at peace with it, as w see in the
final slow motion closeup of his face before we cut to.


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The low angle shot of INEXPLICABLY clear sky. The dove is unmistakably a symbol of Roy
Battys soul returning to commune with Nature/ God. This is the only shot of the film in
which we see a clear sky, and Scott saves it especially for this moment to emphasise the
point of humanitys need to accept its own limitations, its own mortality and its own place
within the cycle of Nature rather than to vainly make Nature submit to our will.

The elegiac soundtrack is also worth noting in this scene.

Opening on-screen text Society, Class and Injustice

Outdoor advertising Society, Class and Injustice

Extreme aerial wide shot the motif of a Geisha swallowing a contraceptive pill. Surely, we
all made much of this during Bladerunners previous incarnation as one half of the
Comparative Study: Into the Wild. It is still relevant here as a potent symbol of humanitys
hubric desire to elevate itself above Nature, by controlling and circumventing Natural
processes. Frankenstein does this to fulfil misguided Romantic ideals of refusing to accept
death and valorising youth, whilst in Bladerunner the motivations are far more consumerist
and hedonistic.

The low angle wide shot shows the proliferation of phallic skyscrapers as another reminder
of humanitys hubris. Also important is the voice-over advertising A chance to begin again
an admission that humanity has bespoiled the Earth.

All of this relates to Society, Class and Injustice as much as it does to any other theme, as we
clear contrast between the new life that is available to those who can afford and the
hobbled life that is pervasive on the street level, as Deckard sits, waiting for an opportunity
to eat at a crowded outdoor noodle market.

Killing Zhora
This scene is also highly recommended for its symbolic portrayal of social injustice and the
dehumanising effects of globalisation and hyper-consumerism. The POV and cinema verite
style, combined with the highly graphic slow motion of Zhoras death cross cut with
Deckards emotionless face are whats most worth noting.