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Law and the Utopian Imagination$
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Austin Sarat, Lawrence Douglas, and Martha Merill Umphrey

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804790819

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804790819.001.0001

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Dystopian Narratives and Legal Imagination: Tales of Noir Cities and Dark Law

Dystopian Narratives and Legal Imagination: Tales of Noir Cities and Dark Law

Dystopian Narratives and Legal Imagination: Tales of Noir Cities and Dark Law
Law and the Utopian Imagination

Shulamit Almog

Stanford University Press

This chapter focuses on two cinematic narratives: Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (1965) and Ridley Scot's Blade Runner (1982). Both films relate to dystopias generated by human decision-making, reveal how law is significant factor in constituting the dystopian situation, and illuminate it by focusing on the fate of a subject or character. The films employ metropolitan settings to create similar cautionary tales, in which the metropolis - the pillar of liberal and rational social existence - turns into a dystopia. In both cases, law is presented as tool for translating the political will of its masters into normative language, thus taking an active role in enabling and facilitating the dystopian regime. The films juxtapose the imagination of disaster with the legal imagination, while constituting a warning against violent employment of authorized power, and against abusing legal instruments by using them as tools for exclusion of certain subjects from the domain of law.

Keywords:   Alphaville, Blade Runner, law and film, imagination of disaster, cautionary tales, dystopian, arrative

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