Review article: Science fiction universes from Blade Runner to Ex Machina

Blade Runner to Ex Machina
Blade Runner to Ex Machina

In science fiction universes, especially when we think of galaxies that deal with artificial intelligence and robots, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner from 1982 and Alex Garland’s Ex Machina in 2015 observed the universes, humanity, period, memory, and the changes they have undergone. It is possible to build a bridge.

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Science fiction universes from Blade Runner to Ex Machina
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The essential point that connects the two films is that they both describe a test process between robot and human. Just like Blade Runner, Ex Machina builds its narrative and what it questions on a test. And again, the end of the test puts the “human” or “we believe to be human” to a point where we question. How ‘Blade Runner’ long time Deckard If the possibility of his character being a replica was discussed. Caleb, in Ex Machina, also decides to test himself at some point in the movie.

Apart from the similarity that both artificial intelligence subjected to the test in movies were created as women, the path followed in the test’s development is also very parallel. For example, like the sarcastic answers Rachel gave, Ava repeats Caleb’s sentences, leading back questions to her. In the course of events, an emotional connection is established between the characters who apply the test and are put to the test.

Science fiction universes from Blade Runner to Ex Machina
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Techno-phobic Perception

We can say that the perspectives of both films on artificial intelligence are located at similar points, although the finals change things. Until the separation is created in the final, both films are not intended to establish a techno-phobic perception. On the contrary, artificial intelligence can be more real than humans, even if their memory is fiction. With the emotional bond created between the characters, The films position the viewer to the point where they will look favorably upon the idea of ​​artificial intelligence and take sides against humanity or the creative when considered from a broad perspective.

In Ex Machina, in fact, in the first scenes, with the conversation between Caleb and Nathan, we are given the message that creating an artificial intelligence brings man to the point of positioning himself as a god, and the rest of the film shows that the relationship between Ava and Nathan is like a father-daughter relationship. In Blade Runner, the father-child relationship was demonstrated between the Tyrell and Roy characters. Another parallel between the two films is the progress of the relationship and the child’s hatred for the father and his destruction of his creator over not being destroyed.

Science fiction universes from Blade Runner to Ex Machina
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These two films, which are connected at critical points in setting up and developing the story, are separated from each other due to the period in creating the universe.

While Blade Runner takes a much more futuristic line and positions us in a universe full of cyber-punk and chaos, in Ex Machina, we watch the events taking place in a very sterile house in nature. At this point, although the formal preferences and visual narrative are different, the aim is the same: to draw a heterotopic picture of the conditions of the period and the environment that will occur when artificial intelligence is embodied. Considering that Blade Runner has 82 productions, it makes this painting entirely in the city, in a globalized living space, in an environment where all cultures are blended and coexist with technology. It foresees the future in this way.

Science fiction universes from Blade Runner to Ex Machina
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On the other hand, Ex Machina chooses to place artificial intelligence in nature, considering it as a film that is much closer to the period, perhaps even within the period.

Because today, almost all consumer culture and technological things either position themselves in nature or try to establish a connection with nature somehow. In Blade Runner 82, although it imagines the consumption culture in which artificial intelligence will be located much more complex, the consumption culture has managed to hide behind a “simplification and naturalization” label due to the change it has undergone. For this reason, the situations that were imagined more magnificent or complicated in ancient times have become more uncomplicated and more straightforward in the world. It is a logical choice to describe the period and create a heterotopia by combining artificial intelligence and the natural.

Science fiction universes from Blade Runner to Ex Machina
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Like the Far Eastern women we often see on giant screens in Blade Runner, we have a Far Eastern character living with Nathan in Ex Machina. And later in the film, we see that the physical characteristics defined for artificial intelligence created before Ava belongs to different nationalities. At this point, there is a message that cultures will become mixed in an environment where artificial intelligence is possible, just like in Blade Runner. Since the nightclub and dance scenes in Blade Runner and Nathan’s frequent drinking and dancing in Ex Machina have matched features, both films have a dionysiac touch, resulting from orientalist culture.

Science fiction universes from Blade Runner to Ex Machina
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It is possible to examine the two films through the orientalist elements inside.

When the finals of the films are examined, while Blade Runner, produced in 82, does not give us a victory for replicas, but only makes us look at them more warmly, Ex Machina gives both a success belonging to artificial intelligence and it is doing it as a well-deserved victory in a line away from techno-phobia. Although the distinction between good and evil in Blade Runner was not very clear, it was separated by more understandable lines than today’s movies. When we consider the film in its period, Deckard’s Roy Even his crying after his death was such that it could create a gray zone.

Science fiction universes from Blade Runner to Ex Machina
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Looking at Ex Machina, the concept of good and evil is always in motion, and the final leaves us entirely in a gray area. As the audience faces Nathan, who was the creator at the beginning of the movie, his emotional connection with Ava and as the reality is shown, he becomes questionable as he begins to see the other side of reality. But as the movie continually overcomes these inquiries between humans and robots, it destroys both our perception of good and evil characters and our perception of winner and loser. Ava’s killing of her creator can be perceived as a victory for artificial intelligence, and Ava’s strength can be perceived as the victory of the human who created her.

The common point in the success of these two films, which play on artificial intelligence, robot, human, and real issues, is that they convey the narrative with the spirit of the period and make formal choices such as the narrative established.

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