View Full Version : Blade Runner | vs. | Gladiator

05-10-2003, 02:12 AM
I was watching Blade Runner the other day and I’ve begun to note striking similarities between that and Gladiator. Hardly surprising, I realise, seeing as they’re both directed by Ridley Scott, but still similar enough to surprise me. The main relationship, the ‘trinity’ if you will, between the Father, the Prodigal Son and his antithesis, the Bad Son, is something that pervades both films.

In Gladiator, the father is literal. Marcus Aurelius is the father, by blood, to Commodus and father, by allegiance, of Maximus. In Blade Runner, the father is figural but no less important. Tyrell is, of course, the creator of Batty, one of the Nexus 6 ‘Replicants’. Certainly, this analogy would suggest that Deckard, as The Good Son, is also a Replicant. Even if he isn’t, he performs the same function as Batty’s antithesis.

The Bad Son kills The Father (in scenes that are similar in too many ways to mention) and is, in turn, killed by The Good Son. Although, in the case of Blade Runner, Batty has a kind of ‘Road to Damascus’ revelation and embraces death. In spite of this, for the majority of the film, the parallels hold. It’s also interesting that the protagonists of both films end up involved with someone who is, to all intents and purposes, their foster sister. Maximus gets involved with Lucilla, daughter to his 'father'. Deckard ends up with Rachel, 'daughter' to Tyrell, who (if the Replicant theory holds true) also created Deckard.

I’m having a bit of trouble attempting to hold all the threads in my head. This is a vastly simplified version.

Any thoughts?

05-22-2003, 02:51 PM
Before I praise you on an interesting comparison of similar themes, I must say I hated "Gladiator." Not that I didn't think it was a good movie, but I'm one of those people who when I am surrounded by a huge assortment of people whose opinion differs from mine, it tends to reinforce my own view and my resistance to theirs. The more I hear people praising "Gladiator," the more I dislike it. I think it was a well-crafted movie, and I always applaud Ridley Scott's skills as a director, and he has demonstrated one of those qualities that seems inherent in most directors who view their films as works of art as much as they are movies...he recycles. Being an artist myself (not that I'm saying I'm a great artist, but I draw and I paint, and by career choice I am a graphic designer), I do draw from my past work and incorporate elements from things I've already done into my current and future work. David Lynch does this constantly, reusing themes and images of duality, similar nods towards classic American iconography, music, etc... Terry Gilliam does this with his unique visual style, using camera angles which always gives a sense of distortion and disorientation. Ridley Scott does this in the way he constructs movies.

1) A Unicorn was the primary clue to the possibility of Deckard being a replicant, both as the origami left by Gaff at the end of the film, and in his drunken reverie in the director's cut. In his next film, "Legend," Ridley would use Unicorns as the main plot device. Even Darkness' chambers with all the pillars and columns was slightly reminiscent of Tyrell's chambers.

2) In "Blade Runner," two video images from "Alien" were used in the scene with the spinner police vehicle lifts off. Also, in a deleted scene from "Blade Runner," in which Deckard visits Holden in his hospital room, the hospital is the same set (or at least the same design) as the autodoc in "Alien." Even the bed Holden was in was also used as the kitchen sink in Deckard's apartment.

3) The scene where Deckard finds a snake scale in a bathtub as a clue in "Blade Runner" is similar to a scene in "Black Rain," where instead of a scale, it's a sequin. Even the two films have the same initials, though that's just a silly coincidence, I'm sure.

4) Even shots within "Blade Runner" are reused. Roy's introduction shows him looking at his clenching hand (which is just reused from the later scene when he's fighting Deckard). Then he looks over his shoulder and smiles (which is reused from his talk with Tyrell).

Taking these examples into consideration, it's easy to see how Ridley Scott could've incorporated similar themes in "Gladiator," though I honestly think this might have as much to do with philosophy as well as Ridley's style of filmmaking. Many interviews I've read and seen demonstrate that Ridley is the kind who acts on his intuition first and then asks questions later. He'll think of an idea first, and think about the ramifications of that idea later. An excellent example is in "Legend," when he's discussing Tom Cruise's look with the writer, saying he should be like a lizard boy...the writer says, "Why would a princess be with a lizard?" Ridley's response was along the lines of, "Right. You're right, fuck me." Etc...
As an artist, he probably acts first and then thinks about those actions later. Many of the concepts in "Blade Runner" are as much from philosophy as they are from Philip K. Dick's book, and if you read "Future Noir: The Making of 'Blade Runner,'" I think you'll find that even the writers came up with ideas that were based on things they'd learned and forgotten. What seemed like technobabble between Roy and Tyrell turned out to be scientifically valid (Ethyl Methane Sulfonate actually IS a potent mutagen, but the writer didn't really realize that as he wrote it). Similarly, Ridley probably comes up with ideas that are based on things he has learned and experimented with in the past, forgotten, and then resurfaced unconsciously without really thinking about where it came from.
From that, I think it's easy to see how certain plot elements and themes from "Blade Runner" became recurrant in "Gladiator." I don't think Ridley was really conscious of it, so much as thematically they came from a similar sense of where the story should lead. He might've realized it after the fact, but I don't think it was a deliberate attempt to reiterate the same philosophical or thematic point.

Very well spotted though...Kudos fuzzy_nolan!

05-22-2003, 09:58 PM
Your examples from Scott's interfilm pastiche are bloody interesting. I'd never heard of any of those. I'll keep an eye out next time I watch any of his films.


05-23-2003, 09:19 AM
I highly recommend you check out the book "Future Noir: The Making of 'Blade Runner'" and the Special Edition DVD of "Legend." The book and the documentary on the making of "Legend" reveal a lot of what kind of filmmaker Ridley Scott is, and how he approaches his films as works of art (though he never explicitly says that they are art...it's just the kind of man he is). After that, take another look at his films...you'll notice a lot of recurring themes and imagery, some more subtle than others. It's the mark of a true artist in my opinion.

05-24-2003, 02:42 PM
Ilker81x definitely knows what he or she is talking about. I'd listen to what he's saying! The book is the best! I haven't seen the documentary.

05-24-2003, 09:36 PM
I'll look out for it.


05-25-2003, 10:45 PM
I agree that Ridley Scott does repeat certain themes and he even uses similarly styled sets in many of his films. "Alien", "Blade Runner" (which had beautiful Jordan Cronenweth cinematography) and "Legend" are my favorite Scott films.

I didn't like "Gladiator" all that much, and not nearly as much as the academy did. Ridley's themes are pretty universal ones, I don't know if I'd go as far as calling Deckard and Rachel an "incestuous" couple. The Legend DVD is worth renting because the theatrical version is augmented with extra scenes (some of which mad the televised version) I didn't care for the Jerry Goldsmith orchestral score.

05-26-2003, 01:34 AM
I would agree that "incestuous" is not exactly the word, since the question of Deckard being a replicant is pretty ambiguous, even in the Director's Cut, which does imply more explicitly that he is. However, in the "Future Noir" book, Rutger Hauer makes s similar claim about his character, Roy Batty and Pris, saying he always thought of them as more like brother and sister. He also says the original happy ending was bullshit because he felt Deckard ran off with "a vibrator that looked like a woman." He also said that in reading the original book, he felt the point was "does a machine love you? No, a machine does not."

More trivia there from the book, but I definitely recommend it to both fans of the movie and fans of movie in general. It's a great lesson in the art of filmmaking. But while I would agree that Deckard and Rachel's relationship is not incestuous in the way one might perceive as incest, I think fuzzy_nolan's point is still valid because if Deckard IS a relicant, it supports his comparison of the two movies' relationships.