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The Sublime in Frankenstein and Blade Runner

The Sublime in Frankenstein and Blade Runner

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Published by kerishobbs
A worksheet of the theme of the Sublime in the texts Frankenstein and Bladerunner.
A worksheet of the theme of the Sublime in the texts Frankenstein and Bladerunner.

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Published by: kerishobbs on Jun 21, 2009
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The Sublime in Frankenstein and Blade Runner
‘Sublime’ refers to the effect of nature on the human -the beauty and/or terror of the scene creates a sense of awe in the observer.
, the sublime transcends romanticism and the traditions of gothic literature. Shelley’s vivid descriptions of the natural landscapeconvey a romantic appreciation of the beauty of nature, but they aremingled with a sense of Gothic terror. While the natural landscape ispresented as a place of tranquillity and beauty, it is also amidst this naturalbeauty that Frankenstein’s monster confronts him and commits some of hisatrocities.
Blade Runner 
presents a postmodern sublime, in which the natural worldhas become virtually obsolete. Visions of beauty (and particularly thebeauty of nature) are still abundant in the film, and again there is the senseof mingled beauty and terror. Rather than being awed or impressed by thenatural world, the viewer is in awe of the extent of human civilisation andthe grandeur and magnitude of Los Angeles in 2019. The imposing pyramidstructure with it’s twinkling lights presented to the viewer through thepanning shot in the opening sequence is juxtaposed with the terrible actswhich occur inside it. The scale and opulence of the Tyrell Corporation isalso juxtaposed with the seedy underworld it towers over. The sublime in
Blade Runner 
transcends romanticism and science fiction.
Frankenstein Chapter 10:
 The immense mountains and precipices that overhung me on every side the sound of the river raging among the rocks, and the dashing of thewaterfalls around, spoke of a power mighty as Omnipotence – and I ceasedto fear, or to end before any being less almighty than that which hadcreated and ruled the elements, here displayed in her most terrific guise.Still, as I ascended higher, the valley assumed a more magnificent andastonishing character. Ruined castles hanging on the precipices of pinymountains, the impetuous Arve, and cottages every here and there peepingforth from among the trees, formed a scene of singular beauty. But it wasaugmented and rendered sublime by the mighty Alps, whose white andshining pyramids and domes towered above all, as belonging to anotherearth, the habitations of another race of beings.1. What techniques are used to convey a sense of the sublime?2. Locate the adjectives and emotion words
3. Compare this excerpt from Frankenstein to the opening scene of BladeRunner. Refer to techniques used by each composer to communicate ideasabout the sublime.
Excerpts from Wendel, E. L., “
Worldspace in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Ridley Scott’sBlade Runner: From Romantic Nature to Artificiality” 
, 2006
Highlight the words which refer to techniques:
 The Tyrell Corporation, residence and business place of Eldon Tyrell, the Godlikescientific “genius” behind the creation of the replicants, occupies a space centralto
Blade Runner’s
narrative as well as this analysis
From the very outset of thefilm, in which we see an extreme long shot overlooking the futuristic cityscape of Los Angeles— defined by massive techno-towers and near perpetual twilight,interrupted only by violent lightening strikes and fiery explosions resulting instunning plumes of flame—the camera visually guides us towards the grandioseMayan-style pyramid structures that are the headquarters of the TyrellCorporation. The slow-moving journey over the cityscape is never comfortable,and the ominous non-diegetic music makes matters all the more disconcerting. Throughout the movement, there are several cuts to an extreme close up of aneye, in which we see the fireballs of this horrific worldspace vividly reflected in theiris. The flames become the sensorial experience through which the eye relates toits physical environment, and because the eye is never associated with a specificcharacter, it easily becomes our eye. Experience becomes something which mustbe negotiated via a non-natural, technologically overdetermined worldspace,whereby we are alienated by the extreme lack of anything familiar. The charactersin
are able to articulate their experience through the spatial surroundof Nature, whereas
Blade Runner 
is completely devoid of Nature.
What is especially interesting here are the noticeable differences between the twomountains, that is, Mont Blanc and the Tyrell Corporation. In
Victorreaches the village of Chamounix and later wanders the valley below Mont Blanc,and states that these “sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatestconsolation that I was capable of receiving.” He elaborates further, saying: “Theycongregated round me; the unstained snowy mountain-top, the glittering pinnacle,the pine woods, and ragged bare ravine; the eagle soaring amidst the clouds—they all gathered round me, and bade me be at peace” (Shelley, 91-92). Any such

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Melpomene Dixon added this note
The selected extract from Eva Wendel's essay comes from Metaphor Issue 2, 2008, the journal of the English Teachers Association and this is NOT cited. The same exercise (with significantly more detail pages 41-43) using this extract to discuss the sublime comes from the ETA publication on Module A Texts in Time:Frankenstein and Blade Runner. I think that the teacher who submitted this should have
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