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    Robocop – A Postmodern Film Study Essay

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    1. Discuss what you find most striking/interesting/relevant/significant/innovative about the film and why. There are many striking facets that the film Robocop present from the pervasive and sharp social satire of capitalism, the media and American society, but the most striking aspect for me personally is the heavy use of Christian symbolism, in the most vivid style. This stems greatly from the use of the main character Alex Murphy or later known as Robocop as a Christ figure.

    As a film, in terms of visual representation alone this connection to Christ can be seen in several scenes. First of all in Murphy’s death scene, it is the most dramatic, drawn out and methodically visceral. The process seems completely to follow step by step with the crucifixion story, with Murphy being forced onto the floor as though being put on the cross and the subsequent shooting off of the hand recounts Jesus’ hands being nailed to the cross. He furthermore is shot in the chest several times and finally suffers a head wound like that of the crown of thorns.

    One may argue it is simply the style of the film with over the top violence, but it also highlights one of the key aspects of the Christ allegory “ the systematic pain and torture endured during the crucifixion. More visual Christian symbolism is used late in the film, in the concluding battle against Clarence Boddicker, the character Robocop, trapped and unable to move, is seen being pierced with a broken rod as for when Jesus was pierced with a lance during his crucifixion. This is just minutes after Robocop is seen striding across the water almost as though he was miraculously walking on it as Jesus is said to have done.

    In the same story he is said to have saved a sinking apostle, whereas in the film, Robocop was saving his partner who too had fallen into the water. In terms of non-visual symbolism, Murphy’s death and return to life as Robocop speaks of the resurrection of Christ. Furthermore he embodies the idea of Christ being from two different worlds as that of the human and machine, but also perhaps as the lowly working class man, fighting in the dark Old Detroit and the upper class corporate personification, whose offices tower above in the sky.

    Whilst the idea of a Messianic figure in science fiction film is not new, such as the alien Klaatu from the movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still, ? in Robocop the emphasis becomes more uniquely about the Christ figure than any Christian theme or message unlike with The Day the Earth Stood Still which aimed to also speak of universal brotherhood and peace. 2. The Collapse of Time and Space – The Postmodern Aside from this, another large element in this film is the issue of postmodernism that is dealt explicitly alongside the satirical tone of the movie.

    Firstly, the film itself could be seen as a postmodern version of Frankenstein, The Terminator or Blade Runner. It is likewise a pastiche, involving the traditional themes of the lone hero of the Western, elements of gangster, revenge and horror. Yet it also mixes in the new ideas of commercialism, technology and the strong female character. Another element of the postmodern is the large presence of the all-powerful corporation.

    There is a great use of commercials selling products such as Family Heart Centre selling “Yamaha ? hearts and the car 6000 SUX which in the commercial can be read as “GOOD SUCKS ?, a direct implication that consumerism and capitalism may lead to moral decay. In fact only the criminals drive, rich or poor, drive this car. Robocop himself is stated explicitly to be a product of Omni Consumer Products (OCP). The power of the corporation is also portrayed when Robocop is unable to arrest the senior officers Dick Jones despite his crimes as he has programmed a directive into Robocop, effectively keeping him immune from the law.

    Not only that, OCP has a contract over the police department, privatizing law enforcement, alongside control of the design of the city structure, modern medicine, crime as well as the military. Alongside this powerful corporation is the extreme cold mentality of the corporation to see human lives as disposable commodities in the large scheme for profits. Even when the ED209 droid gruesomely kills an executive, the main reaction is not horror at the loss of life but disappointment in the possible loss of money. Other characters simply pass off the murder as part and parcel of life in the business-oriented city.

    The ruthlessness continues with the competition between executives Morton and Jones, the later eventually resorts to hiring a criminal to kill off his competition. This idea that money facilitates all human relations can also be seen with the criminals whose interests are only in money and also the police department whose officers wish to strike as they feel the OCP are not running and funding the department well which can be seen from the dilapidated police department compared to OCPs sleek and modern office.

    And furthermore they feel their jobs and income is threatened by a replacement of machines. It is only the relation between Robocop, a machine, and his partner Lewis that is not based on money. Even Murphy’s wife selling their home might be due to the sudden loss of income from his death. Another exaggerated allegory of this is from a repeatedly used TV show footage showing a man surrounded by sexualized depictions of women and exclaiming “I’d buy that for a dollar. ” ?

    Another way it presents postmodernism is by blurring reality with virtual reality as well as losing spatial depth. This is done explicitly with us having see through Robocop’s perspective, which is always a flat screen, mixed with virtual programs even though he is ?seeing ?reality. Another blur in reality is Murphy, a real cop learning a trick from a TV cop as his son doesn’t deem his father to be a ?real’ cop unless he can do what the TV cop does. Temporal perspective is also lost.

    Robocop’s memories can be replayed and is often not in a linear progression often jumping back and forth from his reality. Furthermore the film’s use of abrupt news broadcasts as quick clips that compress global time and events also show this loss of temporal perspective. The clips never indicate that they are one news broadcast thus losing their place in time. In conclusion, while the postmodern spectacle is used and poses problems to the audience, it does not offer too much of a solution and is in fact rather contradictory.

    It is anxious of automation and corporate systems, but does not show that they are inherent causes for social decay. The President of OCP for example is portrayed as an altruistic businessman who wants to build a better future for Detroit and while there is a fear of machine, Robocop is the one that ultimately wins the day even if he regains some of his humanity. Thus while Robocop uses postmodernism themes explicitly and gives a scathing social satire with primarily negative perspectives, it still offers some room for ambiguity.

    The only ever clear line in the movie is that good will eventually triumph over evil, with Murphy fighting against dehumanization in the form of technology and corporate society, he eventually evolves into a higher being that tries to have both ways of the conservative human idea with the progressive technological corporation, synthesizing into a new type of person “ a cyborg, who still continues a clear objectivity of the inescapable need for law and social order. As the tagline states, “Part man. Part machine.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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    Robocop – A Postmodern Film Study Essay. (2018, Jul 25). Retrieved from

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