Science Fiction - Connecting Gritty Live-Action and Animation Through Wall-E and Blade Runner: Part 1

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Blade Runner is a dark, gritty science fiction film that “projects the nightmarish
vision of the early twenty first century” (Bosnak 74). The city is
dirty, overcrowded and chaotic due technology consuming society’s
everyday lives. The film follows an ex-police officer Rick Deckard being
forced out of retirement to hunt down and kill a group of escaped
humanoid robots known as Replicants. It’s hard to imagine that such a
horrific story would parallel Pixar’s animated film Wall-E in
numerous ways. Scenery details, characterization and key symbolic items
in both films correlate with one another. The difference in Wall-E and Blade Runner is in that they cross different genres, Wall-E with animation and Blade Runner with film noir (Doll and Faller 91). Naturally this cross produces different outcomes to particular situations, with Blade Runner obviously being far darker than Wall-E.
Despite these differences, through looking at the science fiction genre
and specific concepts and ideas within it, I am able to tie themes and
situations in both films close together.

after going through heaps and clouds of space trash (Murray and Heumann)
does the audience first meet the small trash collecting robot known as
Wall-E. We see him going through the dust covered streets collecting
garbage and crushing them into small blocks over and over again. As it
happens, the Earth is now covered in skyscrapers of made out of those
blocks of garbage (Onstad). Due to pollution the Earth has become a
raging dirt ball and uninhabitable for humans. Instead, the humans have
been sent off while the Earth is being cleaned. What was meant to be a
fairly quick process turned into a 700 year adventure for the humans. As
we are introduced to the humans, we find they are an “apathetic,
indolent, and lethargic human race” (Murray, and Heumann). Not only does
Wall-E at this point present a dystopic world, but a dystopic
human race. One that is completely reliable on the machines as they
feed, carry and obey their every command. It is to such a horrible point
that they have never even truly seen the stars.

While there are humans in Blade Runner the city is nearly just as disturbing as what is shown in Wall-E. There
is “no laughter and no family in the film; they seem to have perished
in a far distant past” (Bosnak 82). For a city so high in technology, it
is so rundown, with many of the buildings falling apart and it appears
as though there are many homeless individuals. It is ironic that Blade Runner takes place in Los Angeles because the city of angels has been turned into a city of demons (Bosnak 84). In fact, like Wall-E the film is nearly devoid of any plants, and the animals in it are
mostly artificial. Many science fiction films “focus on technology as
the science-demon that would destroy humanity.” (Hayward 316) In Blade Runner it
is made clear from the start that the Replicants were made to work away
from Earth, in “environments where normal humans would quickly perish”
(Boozer 217). In order for the Replicants to effectively work, they had
to be every bit as capable as humans and just as intelligent. Because of
these factors, Replicants are able to develop emotions and in an effort
to break free from human control, turn violent.

Wall-E and Blade Runner both represent technology having a negative influence on society in two very different ways. In Wall-E the robots (aside from the Captain’s wheel) are anything but violent
towards the humans and really go out of their way to make sure humans
are comfortable. They go so far out of their way that the humans no
longer feel the need to do anything themselves because they know a robot
will pick up his or her slack. Blade Runner on the other hand
makes the Replicants out to be a physical threat, harming humans in
order to further their own existence. Despite their different
approaches, both films successfully depict a dystopic society at least
partially ruined by human’s dependence on technology. Wall-E just happens to give the “G-rated, computer-generated cartoon vision of our own potential extinction” (Scott) while Blade Runner
takes the violent approach when relating to the science fiction genre.

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Works Cited:

Boozer, Jack. “Crashing the Gates of Insight: Blade Runner.” Bowling Green University Popular Press (1991): 212-228. Web. 06 Dec 2010.

Bosnak, Metin. “The Nocturnal Future as Alienated Existence: Blade Runner.” Journal of Economic and Social Research 3.2 (2001): 73-97. Web. 06 Dec 2010.

Doll, Susan, and Greg Faller. “Blade Runner and Genre: Film Noir and Science Fiction.” Literature/Film Quarterly 14. (1986): 90-100. Web. 06 Dec 2010.

Hayward, Susan. “Cinema Studies: The Key Concepts.” Routledge. (2000): 314-19. Print.

Murray, Robin, and Joseph Heumann. “Wall-E: From Environmental Adaptation to Sentimental Nostalgia.” Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media 51. (2009): n. pag. Web. 06 Dec 2010.

Onstad, Katrina. “Pixar Gambles on a Robot in Love.” New York Times 22 June 2008: Web. 06 Dec 2010.

Scott, A.O. “Wall-E: In a World left Silent, One Heart Beeps.” New York Times 27 June 2008: Web. 06 Dec 2010. 

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