Blade Runner 2049 is one of the best sequel movies in the history of sci-fi cinemas. The
movie is a science fiction film created by Ridley Scott and was set thirty years after the
production of the first film. The film is premiered in Los Angeles, a city occupied by the dregs
species of human race (Brown, 2018). The main plot of the film is based on a replicant child.
Ryan Gosling plays the role of Officer K, a Nexus-9 replicant who is the "blade runner". In the
movie, he uncovers a long-buried secret which threatens to destabilize the society during the
course of civilization (Brown, 2018). The film depicts an oppressive environment where rain
never ceases, and there are night rules.
Harrison Ford's Deckard is responsible for recognizing and terminating the replicants
which appear like human robots and are illegal on the earth comes back to action (Brown, 2018).
Deckard is supposed to find a band comprising of four Nexus -6 replicants which have found its
way to the planet and then to Tyrell Corporation, a company which is responsible for the creation
of the replicants. This essay critically analyses the Blade Runner film and shows how it depicts
different worlds between human beings and alien in social realism context.
Roger Deakins did the cinematography in Blade Runner. In his works, he created an idea
on how to make the visual. In the movie, the cinematographers created the environment instead
of using a green screen (Brown, 2018). The cinematographers used interior lighting to create a
future world. Besides, instead of using a green screen, the directors created an environment. In
the movie, different sets and lighting are used to visualize the background of the characters and
the effects of light (Brown, 2018). The fusion of classical and contemporary style of
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cinematography is evident in the movie. The directors also created a relationship between the
original film done in 1982 and the current blade runner of 2017. In creating a future world,
Deakins used a lot of customized tools like the ring lights, which became one of his signature
tools (Brown, 2018). From the movie, light and camera framing creates a future world. For
example, the sunlight can be seen penetrating through the roof, and this creates a full field frame.
Besides Wallace's office interior signifies the beauty of future interior design.
Importantly, a strong visual is seen when the Blade Runner K, stands in front of an
enormous three-dimensional ad done for Joi hologram. Significantly, this ad symbolizes artificial
intelligence meant for lonely people. In the cinema, the sadness of agent K is visible when the
same looking figures approach him in a bid to buy her (Whittington, 2007). Furthermore, the
small image of K and the gigantic three-dimensional hologram of Joi reflect a visual and an
interpretation of K's lost love and sorrow. David Dryer, the photographer in the movie, uses
black and white colors in most scenes of the film for particular reasons (Whittington, 2007).
Black and white colors create more depth and style. Similarly, in every aspect of the film, the
photographer uses color, and at times color is absent in some scenes where it might be expected.
In giving the film its moods and personality, the cameraman employed the use of rain, backlight
smoke and lighting (Whittington, 2007). In the movie, the streets are overcrowded, which gives
the audience a future time length of the film. When the director of the movie portrays the streets
to be packed like ants, they made pictures like ants. People on the streets of Los Angeles were
seen as colorless. The lights on the streets are achieved by using neon signs.
Editing and visual effects
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Editing and visual effects create a challenging and uncompromising dreamscape in the
film. In creating a dreamscape, tension is maintained throughout the film to allow the audience to
have time to get into these landscapes (Whittington, 2007). From the movie, K’s rooftops are
seen with adverts of faces, and a woman's voice is heard calming the population to sleep. From
the first movie, thirty years later K tries to resolve a mystery that sends him back to Deckard a
former blade runner. The investigation throws K into an existential disaster and humanity is
reflected in memories of the film till arrival (Whittington, 2007). Villeneuve’s main challenge is
how to maintain this hypnotic dreamscape at the pace of today's audience. According to Walker,
the first assembly is broken down into halves. However, the break just before K runs away felt
like an arbitrary convenience for the cut. Furthermore, the break symbolizes a genuine part two
(Whittington, 2007). The first half starts by portraying where a giant eye is opening followed by
the revelatory jolt. Thereafter, K comes from initiation, and his desires are now changed. The
introduction includes a bizarre visit to Carla Juri, a young scientist who makes memories of the
replicants (Chion & Gorbman 2009). Because she lives in a sterile looking glass room, her work
is viewed as an imaginary dreamscape.
In the Holographic funhouse, the awkward scenes to edit are when K starts to play cat
and mouse game with Deckard surrounded by holographic icons (Chion & Gorbman 2009).
Metaphorically, this episode shows the real world of artificial experience and nostalgia, which is
the most extended section of the editing process. Additionally, during editing, the film uses some
music with showgirls and dancers who are brought in as a sign of continuity (Chion & Gorbman
2009). Initiation includes a visit by a young scientist, known as Juri and she makes memories for
replicants. Living in a sterile-looking glass room, her work is seen as imaginary dreamscapes. In
creating the visual and special effects of the film, the photographer occasionally uses colored
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lights to emphasize the special impact on the replicant's eyes (Chion & Gorbman 2009). The
identifying characteristics of the replicants' eyes are symbolized by a strange glowing quality of
Sound plays a vital role when capturing the picture of the Blade Runner. The sound
designer of the movie employed the use of songs, sounds designs and dialogue to integrate the
scenes of the film (Chion & Gorbman, 2009). The song was composed by Vangelis who used
synthesizers from the legendary Yahama. Every scene in the film is integrated with audio. In the
part where Deckard meets Rachael, the audience is kept unaware of where the end of music and
the beginning of the world. The sound designer matches the qualities of the music with space and
light while incorporating some faint computer noises (King, 2020). On the other hand, digital
reverberation technology is used by Vangelis on music and dialogue to fold the audio sources to
be a one master track. Additionally, by applying these sound techniques, a cohesive environment
is created in different dimensions and different time of the story.
Today the audio track of the Blade Runner has since been reconstructed from the current
editions to bring out clearer sound effects in the movie (King, 2020). In the film, the sound was
most evident in the chaotic crush in Bibi's bar .Sound is also seen in machine noises, peoples
footsteps and the rain. Besides, crowds and dialogue creates the polyglot of different languages
at all times (King, 2020). The film also consists of futz tracks which symbolize filtered dialogue
tracks like public address systems and radios. In the final mix, the sound is used to guide the
audience to pay attention to what propels the story. Music and sound effects used in Blade
Runner conveys a dark lyricism which is shaped by the need for intensity, the atmosphere or
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dark emotions (Bukatman, 2017). The sounds of thunder rumble when its heavily raining
foreshadows a descent in an unfamiliar territory.
Mise-en –scene refers to what the audience sees on the screen or stage of a film. It
includes the arrangement of every element of the movie such as costume, lighting, setting and
even movement of figures (Bukatman, 2017). Mise en –scene also shows the setting of things on
the stage. Blade Runner movie has been associated with a multitude of genres. The film is not
only a science fiction, instead it corporate elements from several genres such as detective drama,
film noir and mostly horror movies. The future in the film is shown by how things are
overpopulated and filthy (Bukatman, 2017). Neon lights and smoke are shown throughout the
film to signify the feeling of suffocation. In the film people are uncomfortable and wet and this
metaphorically represents the set up of today’s world. Advanced technology in the form of
replicants, flying cars and futuristic buildings are also used in the setting to show the real world
of advancement (Bukatman, 2017). The replicants do dirty work in the world and have a short
lifespan and are finally destroyed. Different animals like snakes and owls are cloned to put
emphasis on the creature’s differences like serial numbers.
From Metz's perspective, the movie comprises of messages, elements which include
texts, and expressions. The film begins with a bird's eye view setting of a dark, gloomy city.
Flames are seen coming out of the skyscrapers, which lightens the darkness for some moments
(Bukatman, 2017). A camera slowly moves towards the town, which is seen as an urban hell.
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Later an image in the form of a blue eye appears to cover the screen, and the audience watches
the explosions on the skyscrapers. (Bukatman, 2017) Significantly, in the beginning, there is a
portrait of the world, the eye representing the spectator. The eye connects to the next scene
where Tyrell Corporation’s pyramid is visible. The transitions between the scenes of the movie
are fast. Substantially, Scotts positioned eyes signifiers plot devices and dialogues.
From Metz's perspective, after the pyramid of Tyrell, the scene changes from foggy
appearance to a lighter room (Villeneuve et al, 2018). The reactions of Leon are questioned, and
in a short while, the spectator detects whether the replicants develop emotions or not. A group of
replicants with emotions escaped from the world and stayed in hell as they are aware of
inevitable death. Mr Tyrell's glasses symbolize power as they magnify his eyes. From the
semiotics and realistic perspective, the Blade Runner is a dystopia cult (Villeneuve et al, 2018).
In the semiotics context, the film is made up of significations, and Ridley Scott placed messages
in the form of narration and used mise-en-scene effectively. From the realistic view, the blade
runner can be viewed as a representation of futuristic social realism film.
According to social realism, Blade Runner is a representation of futuristic reality. The
movie represents a dystopic world where we can see corrupted living spaces of humanity. Los
Angeles city is displayed as chaotic and a noisy atmosphere (Villeneuve et al, 2018). From the
ground, it is difficult to detect the sky. Cameras follow cars on the skyscrapers with huge adverts
addressing the capitalist working class. Every scene on the ground comprises of strange people,
objects or vehicles preventing the spectator's view (Villeneuve et al, 2018). From the movie,
Scott uses the position of the camera as a realistic approach.
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The Blade Runner studies an individual’s emptiness in the face of the society. From the
film, Deckard is successful in achieving what few characters have done in Hollywood science
fiction movies. Deckard outgrows the futuristic technological world and reestablishes his worth
as a replicant or a human being. This means something which is not as spectacular as a slaying
monster but a triumphant in a dystopian future.
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Villeneuve, D., Zimmer, H., Wallfisch, B., Fancher, H., Green, M., Kosove, A. A., & Dick, P. K.
(2018). Blade runner 2049. Sony pictures home entertainment.
Bukatman, S. (2017). Blade runner. Bloomsbury Publishing.
King, G. (2020). Blade Runner 2049 and the ‘quality’Hollywood film. Science Fiction Film &
Television, 13(1), 77-96.
Chion, M., & Gorbman, C. (2009). Film, a sound art. Columbia University Press.
Whittington, W. (2007). Sound design and science fiction. University of Texas Press.
Brown, S. T. (2018). Ambient horror: From sonic palimpsests to haptic sonority in the cinema of
Kurosawa Kiyoshi. In Japanese Horror and the Transnational Cinema of Sensations (pp.
27-84). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.