‘Brave New World'(BNW) by Aldous Huxley and ‘Bladerunner’ (BR) by Ridley Scott Comparison
It can be seen that both composers were heavily influenced by their own contexts as both texts present a fairly critical view of the society in which they were produced.
For example, the novel BNW was composed during a time of scientific and technological advancement, in a world where communist powers were on the rise, and with the influence of growing trends in industrialization and consumerism, Huxley was concerned with his society’s lack of morals and exploitation of nature during the twenties.By translating his fears into a satiric critique of his 1920’s society, Huxley created a dystopian portrait of society in the future that was superficially a perfect world.This was his attempt to show his audience (the intellectuals of his time) his fears of the present, while simultaneously providing a warning of what the future may bring.
In effect, Huxley deliberately endowed the “ideal” futuristic society with features likely to alienate his audience, making the “Brave New World” an unsettling, sinister place where nature has been marginalized and natural rhythms such as child birth have been replaced with substitutes and surrogates.
The setting of the novel immediately accentuates the harsh reality of the ‘world state’ in the opening paragraphs when the reader is confronted with a ‘squat grey building’ where the atmosphere is as ‘cold for all the summer beyond its panes’, emphasizing the coldness, paleness and clinical nature of the Central London Hatchery and Conditioning Centre, and allowing Huxley to successfully portray a world in which science has superseded nature.
Secondly, BR was created in the 1980’s, a time where technological advances had become more immediate in every day life, and people were becoming more aware of environmental degradation as a result of human destruction, consequently leading to the general fear that technology was taking over to the detriment of humanity.
These issues were of great concern to Ridley Scott, and thus through the medium of film, he portrays a post- modern apocalyptic, dystopian world, in which ecological systems have been replaced by technological constructs, and the future is depicted as a chaotic place with a distinct lack of the natural world and its humane values. His projection was an attempt to warn his society that if certain trends were to continue, humans have the potential to destroy what they value most, being humanity and the natural world.
Dramatized by Scott in the opening scene, the wide-angled camera shot gives a birds eye vantage of what Earth has become in the future; a vast industrial metropolis, studded with huge chimney like exhaust outlets from which fireballs explode, as if to resemble in a way “hell on Earth”. Furthermore, the city’s streets are devoid of natural elements such as sunlight due to pollution, and in Gaf’s words ‘the little people’, are basked in the flickering of neon lights, as huge neon advertisements dominate the city landscape.
The urban jungle of Los Angeles 2019 combined with the integration of other techniques and genres such as film noir and science fiction enables Scott to effectively create a world of environmental degradation and in turn warn people that the apocalyptic world depicted may not be far from reality in the near future if trends continue.
Both texts share the same tragic flaw, being humanities detachment from the natural world. Thus both seek to demonstrate the effects scientific and technological advancement may have on the natural world and its rhythms in the future.
In order to demonstrate the extent to which nature has been superseded by science in BNW, Huxley overwhelms the reader with scientific processes and names, communicated through the use of complex, pseudo-scientific jargon such as the ‘bokanovsky’s Process, or ‘Podsnap’s Technique, giving the processes in the Brave New World an authentic ring. The application of science to replace natural rhythms such as childbirth
The distinct lack of the nature in the film BR is demonstrated through the absence of real animals in the film due to their rarity and price, with artificial animals taking their place eg. Zhora’s snake. Also quite ironically the only element of plant life that appears in the film is a small, stunted bonsai, symbolizing the extent to which nature has been stunted by technology. Finally, the elusiveness of night and day displays the disruption technology has made to the world’s natural rhythms, demonstrated by Scott through the use of film noir to create a smoky, hazy atmosphere irrespective of the time of day throughout the entirety of the film.
The characters in each text are also used to emphasize the composer’s concepts. For example It can be seen that “Humans”, as depicted in BNW and BR are often lacking the qualities that seem fundamental to being human, and thus provoke the responder to question what it really means to be “human”.