Blade Runner Cinematic Techniques

Cinematic Technique: Mise en Scene #

Blade Runner received an Academy award nomination for special glaze effects.

Film gives its message via text and subtext; language plus visual and sound images. Language is secondary so the sounds of the voices are difficult to distinguish. In Novels subtexts include symbols, tone and settings.

Everything on the screen speaks to us consciously or sub-consciously.

The bland, drab, dreary and bleakness can be off putting to the first time responder, but this is central to the integrity of the film noir genre.

Blade Runner creates its moribund atmosphere through mood music and lighting; most scenes are dark, gloomy with incessant acid rain.

BR uses music, camera angles and lighting to manipulate our empathy for characters. We feel close to Deckard, Rachel, Roy, Pris and Zhora, but distanced from Tyrell, Bryant and Leon.

The low and high camera angles depict Roy as dominant over Deckard on the roof scenes.

Blade Runner uses the Inter-textuality of at least four genres:

· Detective, film noir
· Gothic horror
· Science Fiction
· Romance


  • Climate – a nuclear winter poisoned by fall-out- dark, dank, with constant acid rain
  • City full of human misery – crowded, rubbish strewn, homeless, yet -
  • Sebastian’s flat, the Bradbury is mostly unoccupied.
  • Citizens appear desperate.
  • Advertising – multicultural ubiquitous for off world colonies.
  • Police thugs have supremacy.

Film Technique: #


  • Establishment scene is threatening, haunting, mechanical, synthesized, soundtrack not released until 1994.
  • Lighting often dark, subtle, low key, yet some interplay
  • Camera angles: varies from low to high for effect. Roy shot towering over Deckard to indicate his supremacy.
  • Slow and fast shots.

Symbolism: #

  • The eye, the window to the soul – barometer of emotions and truthfulness. Organ of vision and perception. Roy to Chew.

“What I have seen with your eyes”

  • Tyrell’s glasses – faulty vision?
  • The owl - artificial, symbol of wisdom, (fake= false wisdom) all seeing, yet it turns a blind eye to Roy murdering Tyrrell.
  • White robe and white candles as a sanctuary in Tyrell’s bedroom.
  • Snakes – serpents “that once corrupted man” in the Garden of Eden
  • 100 baby spiders ate their mother.
  • Rachael’s implanted memories.
  • The nail in Roy’s hand – a Christ figure.
  • The white dove set by a blue sky: a symbol of hope – peace.
  • Photographs – sepia – preserving memory; evidence of a past.
  • Also the piano and nostalgic music.
  • Origami Unicorns – ambiguous (sexuality/purity) a portent of doom or idealised primitivism by Gaff?