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Sublime in Frankenstein and Bladerunner

  • Date Submitted: 08/02/2010 10:24 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 34.7 
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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.

In Frankenstein, the sublime transcends romanticism and the traditions of gothic literature. Shelley’s vivid descriptions of the natural landscape convey a romantic appreciation of the beauty of nature, but they are mingled with a sense of Gothic terror. While the natural landscape is presented as a place of tranquillity and beauty, it is also amidst this natural beauty that Frankenstein’s monster confronts him and commits some of his atrocities.

Blade Runner presents a postmodern sublime, in which the natural world has become virtually obsolete. Visions of beauty (and particularly the beauty of nature) are still abundant in the film, and again there is the sense of mingled beauty and terror. Rather than being awed or impressed by the natural world, the viewer is in awe of the extent of human civilisation and the grandeur and magnitude of Los Angeles in 2019. The imposing pyramid structure with it’s twinkling lights presented to the viewer through the panning shot in the opening sequence is juxtaposed with the terrible acts which occur inside it. The scale and opulence of the Tyrell Corporation is also 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 the waterfalls around, spoke of a power mighty as Omnipotence – and I ceased to fear, or to end before any being less almighty than that which had created and ruled the elements, here displayed in her most terrific guise. Still, as I ascended higher, the valley assumed a more magnificent and astonishing character. Ruined castles hanging on the precipices of piny mountains, the impetuous Arve, and...

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