Gladiator, Blade runner and Alien Essay
A narrative structure is the way a story has been organised, so it is the means of telling the story. There are many different types of narrative structures i. e. novels have chapters, films have sequences and plays have acts and also scenes. These all have a beginning, middle and an end, be it a scene or a chapter or even the whole film. The simplest of the structures is when the scene or sequence follows the story’s chronology; this is when things happen in order of time i. e. the earliest at the start and the most recent at the end.
A reverse narrative structure would be where the conclusion is told in the first five to ten minutes and then how the situation began, is told. Most narrative structures include a binary opposition; this is the conflict between the protagonist (hero/ main character) and the antagonist (rival of the protagonist) i. e. Maximus and Commodus in Gladiator. The audience’s identification of with the protagonist makes the audience- protagonist relationship empathetic. If the director fails to establish this, as in Blade Runner, where the audience empathised with the replicants especially Roy and Pri, then the film would not be successful.
A successful Ridley Scott film would be Gladiator, as the audience sympathises with Maximus the protagonist (the film starts with him being set up as the hero), as his family is killed, this is where Maximus goes to his house and finds his family brutally murdered, they were burned and crucified, here this music is slowed down and so is the scene. But when the audience find out that he becomes slave Gladiator, loud victorious music appears, and this makes the audience satisfied and happy.
The beginning of the film must have a hook to get the audiences interest and key line which can act as a recurring motif or tag for advertising- ‘what we do in life echoes in eternity’ (Gladiator) or in Blade Runner ” more human than human”. This relates to the film in some way or another, as it runs through the whole film, e. g. Blade Runner, this films tag line is linked to the film, as man made it’s match in form of human clones (androids) and they now are a problem to earth, as Tyrell shouldn’t have made them so powerful.
The context of genre that Ridley Scott shows in his films are Sci fi, horror, thriller or even romance based films. These are important as they set the scene and the atmosphere for example a horror film could be set in a grave yard and could be to do with spirits and it could have a supernatural atmosphere, for example the dead Alien on the crashed space ship in Alien the film. Blade runner is a film directed by Ridley Scott. The film is a Sci -fi and has use of film noir.
In a cyberpunk vision of the future, man has developed such advanced technology that it can create replicants; human clones are used to serve in the colonies outside Earth but with fixed life spans. In Los Angeles, 2019, Deckard is a Blade Runner, a police officer who specialises in terminating replicants. Originally in retirement, he is forced to return to his field of work when five replicants escape from an off world colony back to Earth. Deckard’s mission is to track down and terminate 5 replicants who seized a ship in space and have returned to earth in search of their maker. Film noir is a label which film critics use merely because it sounds good. ”
The correct pronunciation is [film nwar] by the way. Originally, it is a French expression, meaning “black cinema”. The term was borrowed from “roman noir”, gothic horror stories from 19th century England. The first film noir aspect in the film is the long shot at the start of the film, over Los Angeles in 2019; it is a huge modern and beautiful city, from above. This shot shows the incredible machinery and technology that has been used in the city, the view from above shows a city that appears to be rather relaxed.
A couple of scenes later the attention moves on to Deckard at the noodle bar the scene is relatively different. Outside on the street it appears that the city is to be old and ageing and in fact rather grotty in terms of weather. The people walking in the street are also not like ordinary people, as some of them are replicants. The overall appearance and atmosphere resembles film noir aspects: bad weather for example rain, isolated alleyways, dim rooms, night, luminous city lights etc; this is true of Alien, Blade runner and Gladiator.
Throughout Blade Runner, there is bond between light and shadows, as they are always changing. The three main colours that Ridley Scott uses are the three primary colours. With these continual leaping lights bright to dull, it makes you feel constantly threatened and a bit anxious. You also feel threatened as mechanical devices roam around in the city; they walk the earth and the sky. The images created make the city seem threatening, a place where people are trapped and condemned, and this is also a major part of film noir.
Not just a theme, but a feel, an atmosphere that is created. Throughout the credits at the start of the film, there is a solemn piece of music that is accompanied by loud blasts. The music expresses the fact that there is a depressing, ominous, overcast atmosphere being created, and the loud flares of burning gas, makes you aware that there is danger ahead. The explosions (this is made by the burning fire) that are accompanied by huge balls of orange burning gas also signify and increase the alertness of danger. There is an escapist theme in Blade Runner.
This is moving away from the city, probably to an off world place, far away as possible and there is a more genuine than just symbolic reference to escape from such a city, as Earth seems like a hopeless and discouraging place. From such an opening we can distinguish the opposite of this world – this is an agrarian paradise, a place where you would like to go and you won’t feel threatened. The editing is time-consuming at the beginning of the film. The audience are taken over the city in an incessant long-shot that zooms in and finishes at the cross-examination room.
This shows the audience the vastness of the city, as the city is initially filmed in a long-shot to give you an overview of the whole place and an idea of how big it is. You can see how big the city is and how small a person is compared to the city, this is shown by an extreme close-up on an eye ball, that is looking at the city with it’s reflection on it. Eyes are significant in this film because people can tell whether you are or aren’t a replicant by examining the movement of your eyes when emotional questions are asked.
Even though they are “more human than human” they have one flaw- the inability to empathise with natural forms, so this is why the questions are based on animals and the interrogator raises moral and philosophical questions. This is the only jump cut in the first couple of minutes and this makes the starting very sluggish. The scene in the cross-examination room with the shot-reverse shot technique speeds up the action and also the tension significantly.
The speed at which the camera shoots this scene confirms the tension; the pace of the camera can be armoured with sound e. g. usic, as this can intensify the scene i. e. chase scene, would have fast music. The camera jumps quicker which builds up the pace of the scene until it reaches the climax where Leon stops and makes his decision to kill the interrogator. When Leon pauses, you can see his face alter when he reaches a verdict, which is to kill the interrogator, which connects the audience into his decision. The questions are made to call upon a response from the android and the replicant reacts very sadistically when he is enquired about his mother, in his blind fit of rage he shoots the blade runner and hurriedly leaves the building.
The choice of shot controls the audience because it affects what they see as the selection of angle will make objects look slightly different for example if the shot was taken, by the camera behind the android facing the blade runner we would be able to see the change taking place in the blade runner’s emotions and the audience would feel for him, but if the camera takes a shot is of the android’s face while he shoots the interrogator we as the audience will support the replicant as we would see the emotions on his face.
In other words, the point of view of the audience can be changed by altering the position of the camera, so the director chooses how the audience percept the whole film, who they agree and disagree with. Empathy is a key concept in the film it is also what psychologists in Russia have developed tests for; to detect involuntary movements in the eye of the replicants when empathetic questions are asked; to see if emotions develop. Empathy is also a key thing as it shows the response of the audience.
As they empathize, not with the replicants, but with Rick Deckard, since he is always found alone and his wife died (she did not exist in the book, but the director mentioned her in the film). The audience also feel sorry for him. The only person or in actual the skin job (slang for replicant) is Rachel. In the directors cut we see Deckard killing a woman android, and over here, the audience sympathises with the replicants as they already have a short life span of only four years and he killing them so they don’t really life that long. Alien is another fantastic film directed by Ridley Scott.
Now this film is also a Sci-fi movie, horror and a thriller. On what should have been a trip back to Earth, the Nostromo, a mining ship, is automatically sent to an isolated planet (known only as LV-426) after receiving an SOS signal coming from it. After the crew reaches the deserted planet, they investigate the source of the distress signal, and discover the remains of an alien ship on the planet. One of the crew members Kane goes in the alien ship to investigate but finds eggs. The eggs start to hatch as they sense the movement of the person and realise that he is alive.
Then suddenly the creature jumps out of the egg shell and attaches himself to Kane’s face. Kane is put into a coma by the creature. But the alien parasite dies and the crew think all is well. But the small suffering was only a prelude for worse things were to come. As then we find out that another of it’s species is forming inside Kane’s stomach and everyone finds out when they are dinning and out of the blue Kane’s stomach rips open, and the creature is loose, so the crew is after it but Ash, who is the scientific officer defends the alien, but slowly each and every crew member dies.
This is clearly shown in the tagline “just one can kill seven”. The film starts off with sound effects e. g. the pressing of button. This is the first sign of danger, as there is a problem for the ship to land. The second sign of danger is the radio interference with the storm. The atmosphere of the alien planet is primordial. There is also a sunrise at the starting to show a new beginning and this when the landing (of the alien ship) happens. This is the strange thing that they see at sunrise; another strange thing is that they see is that there are two suns rising.
In my opinion this is symbolic for the two worlds, the alien world and the human world- earth. The starting gives you an idea of what may happen in the film. The title of the film makes it clear that aliens are in the film at some part. And the starting builds up tension about what may happen after sunrise is the ship going explode or will the aliens make their way out of the ship? And the tension says with the audience until a member of the crew goes in the ship and a he is surrounded by eggs. If there are eggs in the ship then it makes the ship female.
And the eggs start to hatch when the guy enters as they can sense that he alive. When the alien eggs start to hatch tension builds up again and then suddenly the alien attaches himself to Kane this is when the audience are on the edge of their chairs. Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) brings Kane to the ship with out Ash’s (Ian Holm) consent. Ash and Ripley are in command in ship, Ripley is second in command and Ash is a medical officer. Ripley is the protagonist and Ash is the antagonist and Ash is also a robot but everyone is unaware of that.
Ripley is as strong as her foe Ash, but when Ash is around she is under his finger which she does protest against but gets nothing out of it. Her opinions are different from Ash’s and relate to the audiences opinion, as all she wants is to get rid of the creature, but Ash is against that. This film has some similarities to Blade Runner as both are fictional and both are Sci-fi. They also use different types of camera shots to keep the attention of the audience and o build tension amongst them.
They both have different types of life forms, as Alien has aliens and Blade runner has human clones. The both also have a binary opposition: Ash and Ripley; blade runner and the replicants. Both the films show advanced technology for example on blade runner they have made human clones in the future ( 2019) and in Alien they have shown aliens, the way the look, behaviour and everything. Aliens are a belief, they are not something we have seen today, yet people believe they exist, without any proof.
The film alien shows the way alien look so the movie must be a bit in the future when the technology has advanced so much that they have actually seen aliens. Gladiator is another film directed by Ridley Scott. Gladiator is about a general who became a slave; a slave who became a gladiator; a gladiator who defied an emperor. The film is a historical one and it also is a revenge story set in the second century, in Europe: Germany, Rome and also Africa. In detail the story is about general who becomes a slave and then seeks revenge from the emperor who killed his family.
And then becomes a gladiator. Some one who had come from a country that Rome had conquered was unlikely to become a general of a big army and also have connections with the royal family so good that the former emperor to treat him like a son. The battle in the opening of the film took place in reality. It was the last battle of a large campaign. The way the Romans conquered countries was ruthless the quote in gladiator shows this: Quintus “don’t people know when they are conquered”.
When the Romans were the most powerful, their empire stretched from northern Britain to the Sahara, from the coast of Spain to the Middle East. Over a quarter of the world’s population lived under Caesar’s finger, as he was in control. The Greeks came before them, thy also had an empire, but it was not as large as the Roman Empire. It did not spread so far north and although Alexander- it’s greatest general actually invaded India. In AD 180 the end of the campaign against the barbarians in Germania ended with a Roman victory.
Rome was a colonial power, and its colonies had to pay a tribute to Rome in form of taxes and goods e. g. grains, cloth or precious metal. Central to its power were the army, under the control of generals, and it’s administration under the control of the senate (government)- rich men and the Caesar some whom become dictators; Marcus Aurelius was an example of one who was not. The collapse of the empire was due to corrupt leaders, like in Gladiator, Commodus is corrupt he only thinks of his own good.
Where as his father is in search of an emperor who would bring peace to Rome; a person with wisdom, who is able to serve justice, who has fortitude and temperance. In the film Commodus quotes “I all I ever wanted was to live up to you, Caesar father” this means that he wanted him to be the emperor not Maximus. Marcus Aurelius says to Maximus “… since I have become Caesar I have known 4 years without war, 4 year of peace in 20. And for what? I brought the sword and nothing more” this quote sows that Marcus Aurelius wants peace in Rome , he wants it to be a capital which does not live for the deaths of it’s people.
Ridley Scott used poetic licence some not historically accurate as there were scenes with lots of fiction, but to create such scenes imagery, music, colours and sequences were used. In the opening sequence of Gladiator there is soft music and there is orange smoke and you can also see some one in a field; a man wearing a fluffy jacket. This man is walking through a field where green and yellow crops have grown and you can hear the laughing of children. Then suddenly a blue colour appears which gives symbolic reference to a depressing atmosphere.
Then you visualise black horses making a sound and then the sound of a battle is heard. But the music changes dramatically when the German messenger is beheaded. The Romans do so to show the German army that there is no compromise in battle the soldiers are in an uproar , there is lots of cheering and shouting , this due to this the music changes again and to turns to an encouraging one as it is fast and quick it build up suspense. This is when the general gives and encouraging speech and he says “what you do in life echoes in eternity” and sends them to war and the Roman army tackles the German army for control over Germania.
Maximus appears and he grabs sand from the ground, this is when the music turns to a heroic one. And the audience automatically are informed that Maximus is going to win the battle. The battle begins and the scene slows down, this shows that the scene is dramatic and then reflective music is played. The director uses the three primary colours to get through to the audiences emotions. This also builds up the tension between the audiences as the colours symbolise different emotions e. g. blue symbolises sad emotions, where as yellow happy and red, well this symbolises anger.
This could build tension among the audience as is there was red smoke it would be a sign of danger and they would wonder what is wrong. Music is crucial in Gladiator as it says what the actors don’t, for example when victorious music emerges it is obvious that Maximus is going to win and when there is sad music it sets a sad atmosphere and the audience link with the music better so they can easily get emotional. The narrative structure of Gladiator is basic, it has a beginning, middle and end.
It also follows a chronological order, as the earliest of it’s time happens right at the start of the film and the most recent right at the end, but in the staring of the film you see Maximus Meridius in heaven, this is a scene that tells you the future, so the most recent happened at the start, but the film goes on to explain how everything happened, so after that particular scene the story goes in a sequence. This type of structure has a binary opposition too. The protagonist is Maximus and the antagonist is Commodus. This is easily shown as when Marcus Aurelius the father/ emperor of Commodus chose Maximus to be the heir over his own son.
Commodus is furious with such a decision and then kills his father and then also brutally murders Maximus’s family. This is when Maximus seeks revenge and to make it clear to the audience he says “in this life or the next, I will have my vengeance. ” At this stage the audience are supporting Maximus, as he has been wronged. The audience too want to see Commodus dead obviously as he is the villain. This Ridley Scott film is different from the other two other films I’ve written about, this film has different genres and a different type of narrative structure.
It uses colours and music to create emotions and tension a lot, whereas in the other film, this technique is used a little. In all the films a theme runs through the whole story and they all have some similarities and differences. He differences are for example Gladiator contains some historical facts i. e. the Hannibal battle, and it is set on earth when there wasn’t much technology around, but in alien a lot of technology is shown and it is set on a different planet, with a female protagonist which the other two films don’t have.
Blade Runner has also some differences for example it is set in the future and a different type of life form is shown. In Blade Runner there is a problem with the protagonist as the audience sympathise with the skin jobs, so the film was only a success as a cult film. Because of the empathy problems the binary opposition is blurred as the androids as seen as the helpless and the ones who need support, and normally the antagonist is shown as a strong person. The theme and the ideas are very little developed, so there is a small amount of character development.
In Alien Ridley Scott avoids empathy problems as the antagonist is clear. As it is a horror film it makes the binary opposition is simple. So there is action in the film as Ripley needs to kill the alien, and due to the alien tension is built up and keeps the audience interested in the film. But in this film there is virtually no character development. Gladiator is a completely different film. As straight away in the opening sequence there is development of character and also a simple binary opposition becomes a complex one and not forgetting there s more than one narrative line.
All films have a character for which the audience empathise, it is mainly the protagonist but it could be some one else. In all these films there are solitude issues. In Blade Runner, Rick Deckard he is mostly found alone, if he is seen with someone it is Rachel, but she isn’t an actual human, she’s a clone, so Deckard isn’t really seen with human being so he is a loner. Same with Ripley in Alien, at the starting of the film she is with her crew but then when they are killed she is left alone in the ship, and with gladiator, Maximus is seen alone in the field of crops. The ending is Commodus challenges Maximus to a fight.
But before they enter the arena, Commodus wounds Maximus, by stabbing him underneath the armour and has bandaged him up to cover up his “fraud”. Maximus kills Commodus, but dies at the end, due to his wound. We sense the ending when Maximus is wounded by Commodus, as we know that he is now going to die. The audience are then aware that the staring of the film was the conclusion, and they know that Maximus will end up in heaven with his family as this is what is shown at the starting of the film. In Gladiator the director does not revisit the narrative structure, as he uses more than one narrative line.
But some people may say that Gladiator does revisit the narrative structure as in the starting he shown in heaven and at the end as well that same scene was at the end again so the end was told once again. Blade runner’s narrative structure is not revisited as the binary opposition is not clear so the structure is not changed as things will look complex. The revisited aspects are the music, but there is no difference in music in Alien and Blade Runner however there is a new aspect this is the use of colours as shown only in gladiator.
The narrative structures slightly change due to the different genres the films have this is hinted by the different titles and the timeframe is more or less the same. The protagonists have the same qualities (loyal, brave, and truthful) and the antagonists have a basic reason for existence for example the replicants come to earth to find their maker. Therefore there are some aspects of the narrative structure which are revisited and there are some which are not. But Gladiator will stay as the most successful film director by Ridley Scott out of the other two.