How Allegiance is Created for Deckard Through Isolation in Blade Runner

Topics: Blade Runner

Blade Runner, directed by Ridley Scott, is a film that follows Deckard in his journey of hunting down and killing an escaped group of rogue replicants. The main job of finding and killing the escaped replicants is almost made an afterthought to Deckard’s internal struggles with loneliness and his personal quest to find a purpose in life. The idea of loneliness and isolation are presented to the viewers through the alignment with Deckard through the films mise-en-cine, cinematography, and narrative.

The film’s mise-en-cine creates a dark and polluted, futuristic society filled with a large population to create an environment that goes hand in hand with isolation and a feeling of being alone. The narrative and story of the film present Deckard with conflicts with each of the four replicants. These conflicts require him to make choices that put a greater focus on his internal struggles and his role in society. The feeling of isolation and loneliness created by these tools aligns us and somewhat creates a sense of allegiance for Deckard during the film.


The first instance where the film uses mise-en-cine to align us with Deckard and the theme of loneliness is one of the very first scenes of the movie. In the first scene where the viewer is introduced to Deckard, we are welcomed to the dark and polluted, futuristic city by a luminous, neverending rain. The city is filled with an immense amount of people from different races that all blend together into a sea of faceless people.

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The first moment Deckard is shown in the film, he is sitting outside of a store by himself reading a newspaper with countless numbers of people in crowds passing by. Colorful neon signs surround his sittig body. The brightly colored neon signs are the only color and light in the entire shot, this almost instantaneously puts all of your focus onto Deckard and gives the viewer an immediate alignment with him.

The mise-en-cine and cinematography in the chase scene between Deckard and Zhora illustrates and ties into the theme and mood of loneliness and isolation that is shown throughout the film. The use of the crowds of people during the chase helps to tie into both the mise-en-cine and cinematography. It applies to mise-en-scene because it is used as a backdrop and obstacle to the violent and rapid chase happening in the middle of the city, which puts a main focus onto the main characters within the chase. The crowd is used in cinematography when it comes to the focus of the camera and the framing of the people in the shot. Despite there being countless numbers of people, both in the shot and moving around during the scene, the camera is kept at a close up shot in a shallow focus with either Deckard or Zhora being the character in focus. This shallow focus on the two main characters of the chase creates an even greater sense of isolation surrounding them. The scene also cuts back and forth between each character instead of one large shot that contains both characters to show how both Zhora and Deckard as individuals. The shot where Deckard is standing still looking at Zhora’s dead body and all the destruction created adds to the theme of loneliness. As Deckard is standing still looking at the lifeless body of a woman that he just shot in the back, the crowd continues to walk around unbothered as if nothing had happened at all. This aligns and also creates a small amount of allegiance for Deckard because it shows how he is truly the only one that affected by murdering people and how alone it makes him feel.

Blade Runner’s use of framing with a shallow focus on just one character in the shot at a time along with a shallow space adds to the sense of isolation of not just Deckard but nearly every single character in the entire film. The film also uses shot-reverse shot for majority of the film which creates a divide and feeling of isolation between each character with in almost every conversation in the film. The repetition of only person in each shot and the use of shot-reverse shot creates almost a shock factor when two people are shown in the same frame. Due to the extreme sense of loneliness and how little it occurs in the film it makes the shots shared by multiple characters much more intimate and appear to have more value to the viewer. A good example of this is the piano scene between Deckard and Rachael. Deckard had just returned to his apartment where Rachael is there waiting for him. The majority of the scene is shot with either just Deckard or Rachael in a close up shot with shallow depth using shot-reverse shot during the conversation between the two, continuing the feeling of loneliness. Until Deckard joins Rachael on the piano bench, giving us the first shot the two characters have shared in the entire movie. This creates an immediate feeling of intimacy and a connection between people that we have not felt at any point during the film up to this point. It also puts a greater focus on the amount of isolation that is felt in previous scenes and throughout the movie up to this point.

The Main Themes

Blade Runner uses both narrative and story to help us align with Deckard and understand his isolation and how he feels about the world. A scene which does a great job of giving us early alignment and an understanding of Deckard as a character is the scene in which Deckard is brought to Bryant’s office. Deckard is almost immediately given a sense of isolation because he is forced to have a meeting that he does not want to have. The entire is scene is shot in subjective depth, which keeps us restricted to just what Deckard is seeing throughout the scene. The scene is also shot in a mental depth with Deckard’s voice as the narrator. This lets the viewer get an idea of exactly what Deckard is seeing and thinking during the scene, which adds direct alignment towards him while also demonstrating his feeling of isolation. Bryant presents the job of coming out of retirement and becoming a Blade Runner again to hunt down and kill the escaped group of replicants. Due to the mental depth we know that Deckard does not want to kill anymore, but Bryant does not really present Deckard with an option. He practically forces him into the job by stating that he is not a cop, he is little people. By telling Deckard this it forces Deckard into the job that he never wanted to have again or he will be forced to live life on the on the polluted streets running from the police. Bryant forcing Deckard to be the killer he does not want to be anymore gives the viewer both alignment and allegiance toward Deckard, because of the insight it gives us into the psychology of Deckard as a character.

Another scene that gives us alignment and allegiance for Deckard is the scene when Deckard is alone in his apartment right after he tells Rachael the stories proving to her that she is a replicant. The scene uses mental perception with a direct narration of Deckard’s thoughts that tells the audience exactly where Deckard is at psychologically and how lonely he is. Deckard contemplates the roles and emotions of the replicants and goes through what he is feeling romantically towards Rachael. The expression of emotion and sympathy towards the replicants, a creature whose soul purpose is to serve and be an emotionless being, gives the viewer the largest sense of allegiance towards Deckard we get in the entire film. The scene uses a shallow focus with a close shot of Deckard’s face in the middle of the frame while he looks at the pictures that were left by Rachael of what she thought was her childhood. This instance of the close up shot with the dark background of Deckard’s apartment where the only light is focused on his face and the pictures aligns us to Deckard and makes us sympathetic to him and the life he has been forced into.

The scene where the idea of loneliness and ones isolation in the world is most evident in the film is the ending of the dramatic fight scene between Deckard and Roy. The conclusion of the scene gives Deckard a sense of closure and a new understanding of not just the replicants, but humans’ life worth in general. The entire fight is shot in a dark abandoned apartment while a storm with flashes of lightning and thunder go off in the distance. This environment, along with close up shots of Deckard’s and Roy’s faces going back and forth using shot-reverse shot editing, continues the idea of both Deckard and Roy being isolated. This environment and shot pattern continues until the very end of the fight when Roy has just saved Deckard by pulling him up off of the ledge, saving his life. As Roy dies a dove is released into the air and for the first time in the movie where there is any sunlight or natural light. The scene also continues the mental depth with Deckard as the narrator. This is the first point in the film where Deckard is given any answers about life, he realizes that it was not just him that feels alone and wants to find their purpose in life. That the whole drive behind the replicants was to find an understanding of their true purpose. This narrative and aspect of the story creates alignment to both Deckard and the replicants, along with a sense allegiance that allows for a satisfying end to the film.


In conclusion, Blade Runner uses its narrative and plot of a man who is forced into his role in society, a setting of a disdain and dreary futuristic world, and a use of shallow focus and other cinematography techniques to give us an extreme sense of loneliness. These same aspects of film and the feeling of being alone gives the viewer an understanding of the psychology and motives of our protagonist, Deckard. The understanding of Deckard as a character and conflicts he faces gives us a sense allegiance towards him.

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How Allegiance is Created for Deckard Through Isolation in Blade Runner. (2022, Jan 19). Retrieved from

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