by Ethan Soffe
During Southampton Film Week, Solent University hosted a special screening of BLADE RUNNER 2049 (Denis Villeneuve 2017). The screening was accompanied with a talk by Professor of Film and Cultural Studies Will Brooker, who discussed his latest work: “The World Is Built on a Wall: Deconstructing Blade Runner 2049. In his talk, Brooker critically discussed the film, which is primarily centred around boundaries and maintaining order in a futuristic dystopian society. This was a captivating and insightful event and Brooker’s evaluation offered a fresh new perspective on the film, enhancing the viewing experience that followed.
Two of Brooker’s key arguments were how the film represents social hierarchy and order and how it symbolises the concept of “post-truth” throughout the narrative. An example of this is the idea of the boundaries of fact and fiction preserving truth and maintaining dominance within the film’s dystopian order. Brooker also examined how the film deals with the manipulation of facts to secure these societal boundaries. The plot of BLADE RUNNER 2049 concerns a long-hidden secret that is discovered and has the potential to significantly alter society. Brooker identified an extensive archive of records featured in the film and the crucial plot of concealing the past. He went on to draw parallels with these aspects and the current political climate, including Donald Trump’s fake news claims and Brexit.
Brooker highlighted his main arguments by discussing his idea that the past is an imperfect copy. He explained that the past never provides every answer to specific events; despite efforts of preservation, one piece is always missing. He emphasised this by demonstrating K’s personal odyssey of locating one of his memories as a child and his goal of seeking closure over his past. Moreover, he argued that 2049’s predecessor - BLADE RUNNER (Ridley Scott 1982) - is not a reliable text, due to the past’s incompletion.
BLADE RUNNER 2049 with Professor Will Brooker was a true highlight of Southampton Film Week 2019. It offered a unique perception of BLADE RUNNER 2049, which undoubtedly expanded and developed a more critical understanding of the film’s themes in relation to our current societal and political context. Having a film academic critique a narratively complex and dense film such as BLADE RUNNER 2049, along with a Q&A, made for a thoroughly engaging evening.
In celebration of 30 years of City Eye, Southampton Film Week offered a day of flashbacks, beginning with the under-appreciated Disney classic BASIL THE GREAT MOUSE DETECTIVE (Burny Mattinson 1986), a rodent-led interpretation of Sherlock Holmes set in Victorian London. With rugs set out in front of the projector and sweets at the ready, this screening offered a change of pace for Southampton Film Week, acting as a gateway into the world of film for children with an animated screening easy to digest before midday.
Between screenings a drop in session allowed Southampton Film Week revellers the chance to share some of their favourite memories and experiences of City Eye in celebration of their 30th anniversary.
City Eye continued the flashback season in the evening, allowing Film Week attendees to vote on the screening with options including: PRETTY IN PINK (John Hughes 1986), TOP GUN (Tony Scott 1986) and STAND BY ME (Rob Reiner 1986). Ultimately it was LABYRINTH (Jim Henson 1986) that won the vote and so audience members were treated to the epic musical fantasy film starring the late David Bowie and his disturbingly tight trousers as Jareth, the Goblin King.
30 Years of City Eye took place on Saturday 12 November as part of Southampton Film Week 2016.