Loneliness Explored in 'Blade Runner'

The streets of a futuristic Los Angeles are cluttered, not only with debris, but also with living, lonely human bodies. This is the backdrop of Ridley Scott‘s seminal science-fiction/ future noir 1982 film “Blade Runner.” Constantly fluctuating between gaunt solitude and the realization of self-purpose, Scott’s film adequately and artfully articulates by way of screen and theme the feeling of loneliness.

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In a video essay by Matt Draper, loneliness in the context of “Blade Runner” is derived by way of score, genre, and thematic elements. Each of these intersecting points of film convey an isolated experience, with audiences left internally grappling with the grand and complex ideas of humanity, life, and subsequently death. The cinematography of Jordan Cronenweth drenches the streets of LA in neon light, making the repulsive, crowded underbelly of an industrialized city still beautiful. Camera work is not only meant to make images in the film pleasing to the eye, however, but also convey for voyeurs of the diegetic world a sense of solitude and loneliness. This same isolation meant to be experienced by audiences, is then personified by the characters on screen: Deckard, Rachel, and the company of replicants.

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Often framed against stark backdrops, the isolationism offered is in contrast to an overpopulated city, with Cronenweth juxtaposing images to convey the thematics of the story. Emphasizing this disconnect, Cronenweth goes as far as to frame characters in single frame shots, outlining the lack of human connection. With cues from the visuals, composer Vangelis uses synth tones interwoven with jolts of saxophone, pulling from a Film Noir foundation while adding to the futuristic image of the film. Working in tandem, the aesthetics of the film coupled with the score add to the already solitary confinement of the audience and character experience. Melancholic timbres add to the beautifully tragic secluded experience.

Denis Villeneuve‘s “Blade Runner 2049” continues this theme of loneliness and delves further into the foundation of human connection. As Ryan Gosling‘s ‘K’ goes in search of Harrison Ford‘s ‘Deckard,’ the constant reminders of humanity and the individual experience are further explored, the thematic discourse helmed by Scott and the source material of Philip K. Dick‘s novel will have audiences revisiting a bright and lonely future.