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A Marxist Analysis on the Movie “Blade Runner”

            My analysis on Ridley Scott’s movie “Blade Runner” will focus on three aspects as representations of the Marxist Theory: the superstructure, the proletariat, and the replicants which represent the ideal worker.

            From the beginning of the movie, the observer becomes aware of the binary opposites on which the Marxist Theory is based.  There is omnipresent dialectic between the base which is characterized through commerce and the proletariat, and the superstructure which is symbolized through the ruling power, the wealth and the intelligentia.  While watching the movie, I gained the impression that the director called upon the viewer’s senses like visuals, music, and the weather, to emphasize the binary opposites in order to make the dialectic between the oppressors and the proletariat clear to the audience.

            First, I will focus on the representation of the superstructure in the movie.  The headquarter of the ruling class looks like a pyramid.  I think the director picked this image intentionally, since pyramids were symbols of power and wealth for dead, godlike kings.  Moreover, as the elevator rises out of the bottom dwelling working class’s level, above the clouds where the rain comes to a stop, the pyramid (headquarter) is tinged in a golden (deity) light.  This image shows the ruling class as a shining beacon above the working class.  In addition, the façade of the pyramid reminds me of the surface of a brain, suggesting the ruling class’ ‘head’-quarter is the think-tank of the society.  Another symbol emphasizing the dialectic between the superstructure and the base are the giant skyscrapers.  These are towering over the slums of the year 2019, and their fronts function in the movie as giant screens reflecting upper class lifestyle commercials.  Throughout the movie the viewer witnesses the celebration of industry.  Technology becomes a synonym for beauty like the pyramid-shaped building of the oppressors.  Whenever the ruling class is depicted, the mood is calm and relaxed.  We see for example the inside of the headquarter illuminated with soft candlelight, the people are dressed elegantly and never seem to really work.  Furthermore, whenever the ruling class is illustrated, or in this case the intelligentia, they occupy themselves with nothing but intellectual work (even from their bed), like making decisions, and playing chess.  Furthermore, the music functions as a tool to emphasize the social strata: whenever the upper social class is depicted, the viewer hears ear-pleasing, classical, soothing, soft music, to emphasize the leisure of the intelligentsia.

            Secondly, my analysis will focus on the proletariat which is represented throughout the movie literally in a depressing light.  The lower class lives in overcrowded slums, dingy light, surrounded by pollution, with sophisticated commercials mimicking the high society life hovering omnipresent on the facades of the skyscrapers.  Furthermore, to emphasize the depressing state of the proletariat, the author employs hectic, synthesizer music.  In contrast to the intelligentia, workers are represented eating and seeking to fulfill their primitive urges (hunger, sex, crime).  Moreover, I sensed that whenever the proletariat is shown in the movie it is raining.

            Thirdly, I am going to address the replicants in my analysis.  Replicants represent “biological essentialism” which represents the cloning of the allegedly perfect being.  The replicas are designed by the oppressors as the perfect conform existence: work without complaints.  However, even the replicants are starting to revolt against their working conditions on Mars where they are treated as slaves.  An important factor about replicants is that they are designed without emotions, because emotions lead to thoughts, and thoughts lead to questions, and questions lead to answers which would shake the oppressors’ comfort zone.  Another indication of the dialectic between the ruling and the working class is in the fact that replicants are addressed with the neutral pronoun “it”.  This usage represents clearly an objectification, devaluing, and dehumanizing of the working class.  The ruling class likes to keep their binary opposition between human and replicants/workers, because this distinction makes it easy for humans to treat them as a sub-class to the point that if they do not conform with the system anymore the ruling class can hunt and “retire” them without conflicting with the law.  To rid the system of non-conformists is a common practice of tyrannical political systems.

            In conclusion, in my opinion the sub-message in the movie “Blade Runner” of representing the binary opposition between the superstructure and the base is masterfully done.  The director understands to use visuals, music, and even weather to make the distinction clear between the two major factors in the Marxist Theory: the superstructure and the base.  I saw the movie when it first came out, but only superficially.  For me to see it again with the knowledge I gained through my current English class was like seeing it for the first time.

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