March 19, 2007

Blade Runner is uncanny, but not according to Jentsch

I have to tell you that when I read the bulk of this article before I went to see that movie I didn't know what to expect. The movie sure did surprise me on many levels, but not in the way that I thought. While reading the article I came across a quote that Freud gives from Jentsch. The bulk of the second section is what Jentsch thinks about the uncanny and how that fits in with literature. He states:

In telling a story, one of the most successful devices for easily creating uncanny effects is to leave the reader in uncertainty whether a particular figure in the story is a human being or an automaton; and to do it in such a way that his attention is not directly focused upon his uncertainty.

In my mind this means that the producers of Blade Runner didn't do such a good job displaying uncanniness because they point out who the Replicants (the automatons of the movie) are at the very beginning of the movie. There are other elements of the movie that I thought might work for the uncanny until I thought about it and realized that this wouldn't work either because they told us about that too, such as the live toys at JF's house.

I understand that it is hard to compare a quote that was made about a book and apply it to a book, but if we are going to go by the idea of how to make the uncanny work for watchers according to Jentsch it just doesn't work. On the other hand, it is possible to analyze the movie according to the definition that Freud gives at the beginning of the article for the uncanny. He states, "the 'uncanny' is that class of the terrifying which leads back to something long known to us, once very familiar." If one looks at this definition and then thinks about the movie there are many terrifying ideas that have been long known to us. The first and foremost of which would have to be the idea of cops retiring from the force, but the terrifying aspect of this is that Deckard was retiring from a part of the police force that went out and killed in cold blood to get Replicants off the street.

I think that it will be interesting to read what others have to say on the matter of this article and on the movie. Class on Thursday should be very interesting.

Freud, ''The Uncanny'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by Tiffany Brattina at March 19, 2007 7:37 AM | TrackBack
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