This essay aims to compare both instalments of Blade Runner. Despite being 35 years apart, both films have a lot in common. Both versions of Blade Runner exhibited an extensive use of architecture. Blade Runner also continues to reflect modern trends and concerns. It has changed the way we think about the future in terms of cities, environment, architecture, culture and humanity. The film is one of the most influential in the past few decades. It depicts the gloomy future humanity may face. Class separation, widening wealth disparity, population surge are some of the problems the film places emphasis on.To many, the obvious similarities between both movies would be the dystopian world portrayed. Through the use of monstrous industrial environments, out-of-control scientific advancements, and urban decay, the two films presented a dark visual predicament of our future. The movie’s futuristic city is dismal and drab, in a state of permanent darkness and drizzling rain, possibly due to past environmental calamities. Artificial animals can also be found, hinting that the natural world had been lost to industrial blight. Healthy humans have fled the planet and are inhabiting off-world colonies staffed by plentiful robot labor, hoping to start over and prosper. Those who remain on Earth are sickly, depressed, and desperate. This strongly reminds me of the film Elysium, in which Earth is overpopulated and polluted.
“Most of Earth’s citizens live in poverty, on the edge of starvation, and with little technology and medical care. The rich and powerful live on Elysium — a gigantic high-tech space habitat located in Earth’s orbit.”
Both films manifest exclusion, in which a great portion of the population are not able to enjoy the benefits that comes with the new habitat.Concepts such as superiority and urban gigantism have also been brought forward through the use of mega-structures. For instance, the pyramid of the Tyrell Corporation headquarters serves as the city’s nucleus. The Tyrell corporation inhabits two 700 story towers built in the resemblance of Mayan Temple pyramids. The towers epitomize the basic concept of construction in this universe. Instead of tearing down buildings or disassembling established technology, modifications and extra features are installed and applied to existing structures, as if the building is modular. The building’s presence is tremendous, in it evokes a strong sense of financial power, a force not to be reckoned with.
The depiction of these images is performed through the use of both aerial special effects shots and ground level scenery. From the air, the buildings are in the form of rectangles, tubes, triangles, and cones.
“Devoid of ambient sound, the city is a collage of different geometrical shapes offset and distorted by harsh lights and the blackness of the sky.” (AMOTZ ZAKAI)
Class structure is also revealed through vertical architecture. Through these structures, one can tell the various classes that are present in the society during aerial shots from K’s flying Peugeot car in the recent film.
The futuristic world looks better in newer film, thanks to higher production values and advances in technology. Though, one of the most significant differences between both versions is the more prominent use of VR technology in newer film. More complex holograms are utilized. One of the most notable, or unforgettable of them is the digital girlfriend, which is a simulated partner that allows lonely people to feel an interpersonal connection. The boundary between what is “real” and what is not is blurred in Blade Runner 2049’s love story, but it is clear that K takes comfort from Joi’s presence, and that she makes him feel like an genuine individual. K was given a human name, and with it, some sense of purpose and belief that he’s more than what he’s been designed to do. It almost seemed as if K’s motivation in life comes from Joi. However, lacking a corporeal form, Joi cannot truly kiss or hold him. To overcome this physical transparency, she employs a pleasure replicant, Mariette, whom Joi summons to K’s apartment and projects herself onto. As Joi’s face blends with Mariette’s, K goes in for the kiss, and these three artificially intelligent beings find themselves making love in an unprecedented way. During this scene, I did not know what to feel, since it was both fascinating and odd. Never had I imagined one can take pleasure in such a manner. Again, who knows what the future holds.Blade Runner is a movie that portrays a future in which there is no future. Yet the urban future it envisions does not deviate much from our own, and fortunately, the reality turns out to be not as grim than what the movie envisaged. Despite the pessimism, thanks to the movie, we now have an idea of what great urban environments should look like. It could be a warning, informing us about the possible consequences of our lifestyles, but it helped invent the future as we perceive it today. We may soon turn to space colonisation as space exploration technology matures. Mankind may soon grow to exceed Earth’s biocapacity. Who knows whether this will happen, but at least the two films gave us an idea about what our future holds if we continue living the way we do presently. It may not happen soon, but it is a possibility. At least now, we are able to find construction projects and infrastructure developments closely abiding by the rule of sustainable development. I certainly hope it becomes a golden standard for all sorts of projects in the near future. There is still hope for the betterment of the relationship between mankind and this planet. It is up to us, habitants of Earth, to shape our future. I pray that the global scene then would be green, not the colour of urban decay nor industrial blight.