How does Ridley Scott’s dystopic vision of the future in Blade Runner affect the values and paradigms of his 20th century context and the impact of globalisation?
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Ridley Scott took what he saw as some of the prevailing trends in society at the time and extrapolated them into an imaginary future, where the trends of globalisation present the audience with a possible scenario of what the future could look like. One aspect of globalisation that is commented upon is the way that Los Angeles has become a city that is characterised by hybridity and mix. There is no one distinct ethnic type, and language itself has merged into one street speak that Dekkard is conversant with. Arguably, this is perhaps his most accurate prediction, as the numbers of ethnic minorities in the United States has only increased since the film's original production in 1982, although languages have not merged into one as Scott predicts.
In addition, another important aspect of globalisation that is commented upon is materialism and the way that consumer culture has come to dominate life. Perhaps one of the most poignant moments of the film comes when Dekkard shoots Zora as she crashes through a seemingly endless number of shop windows, exploring the impact of consumerism upon the lives of the audience and also suggesting that escape from these elements is impossible.
Finally, the film's major issue is of course the question of humanity and man's mortality. The final line that Roy utters before dying seems to capture the inherent fragility of what it is to be human:
All these moments lost in time like tears in rain.
No matter how globalised the world is, and no matter what incredible experiences humans have thanks to the globalised world that dominates our life, humans are still mortal, and destined for obscurity. This is an essential, universal human condition that the film confronts its audience with.
There are two main ways in which this excellent film can be related to globalisation and the values and paradigms of the 20th century. The first is the way in which replicants were created in order to assist in the exploration and colonisation of other planets as humans spreaded themselves throughout the solar system more and more in this dystopic vision of the future. The opening credits of the film explains the creation of replicants with the following words:
Replicants were used Off-world, in the hazardous exploration and colonisation of other planets.
Globalisation is a phenomenon where the world literally has become a smaller place and humans are impacted more and more by what happens on the other side of the world as trade and consumerism increasingly dominate our lifestyle. This film posits a future world where this globalisation has been taken to its logical future extension in the colonisation of other planets, as life on earth comes to depend more and more on what happens on other planets in the solar system.
Secondly, Ridley Scott presents a challenging message of what the future could look like environmentally if steps are not taken. Although Los Angeles is viewed in 2019, and hopefully pollution will not have reached such a terrible state in six years, Ridley Scott's Los Angeles is a city that is surrounded permanently by a cloud of smog that means sunlight does not enter into the existence of those that live there. Ridley Scott therefore hopes to impact his viewers with this warning vision of what the world could look like if humans are unable to do anything about the dire environmental situation they are faced with.
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