Tears in rain monologue

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Headshot of Roy Batty, rain can be seen falling around him
Roy Batty (portrayed by Rutger Hauer) during the scene in the Final Cut of Blade Runner

"Tears in rain" (also known as the "C-Beams Speech"[1]) is a 42-word monologue, consisting of the last words of character Roy Batty (portrayed by Rutger Hauer) in the 1982 Ridley Scott-directed film Blade Runner. Written by David Peoples and altered by Hauer,[2][3][4] the monologue is frequently quoted.[5] Critic Mark Rowlands described it as "perhaps the most moving death soliloquy in cinematic history",[6] and it is commonly viewed as the defining moment of Hauer's acting career.[7][8]

Context[edit]

Hauer's chair from the film's production

The monologue is near the conclusion of Blade Runner, in which detective Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) has been ordered to track down and kill Roy Batty, a rogue artificial "replicant". In a rooftops chase in heavy rain, Deckard misses a jump and hangs by his fingers, about to fall to his death. Batty turns back, and lectures Deckard briefly about how the tables have turned, but pulls him up to safety at the last instant. Then, recognizing that his limited lifespan is about to terminate, Batty further addresses his shocked nemesis, reflecting on his own experiences and mortality, with dramatic pauses between each statement:

I've seen things you people wouldn't believe... Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion... I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain... Time to die.

Script and Hauer's input[edit]

In the documentary Dangerous Days: Making Blade Runner, Hauer, director Ridley Scott, and screenwriter David Peoples confirm that Hauer significantly modified the "Tears in Rain" speech. In his autobiography, Hauer said he merely cut the original scripted speech by several lines, adding only, "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain".[9] One earlier version in Peoples' draft screenplays was:

I've known adventures, seen places you people will never see, I've been Offworld and back… frontiers! I've stood on the back deck of a blinker bound for the Plutition Camps with sweat in my eyes watching stars fight on the shoulder of Orion... I’ve felt wind in my hair, riding test boats off the black galaxies and seen an attack fleet burn like a match and disappear. I've seen it, felt it...![10]

And, the original script, before Hauer's rewrite, was:

I've seen things... seen things you little people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion bright as magnesium... I rode on the back decks of a blinker and watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments... they'll be gone.[11]

Hauer described this as "opera talk" and "hi-tech speech" with no bearing on the rest of the film, so he "put a knife in it" the night before filming, without Scott's knowledge.[12] After filming the scene with Hauer's version, crew-members applauded, with some even in tears.[7] In an interview with Dan Jolin, Hauer said that these final lines showed that Batty wanted to "make his mark on existence ... the replicant in the final scene, by dying, shows Deckard what a real man is made of".[13]

Critical reception and analysis[edit]

Sidney Perkowitz, writing in Hollywood Science, praised the speech: "If there's a great speech in science fiction cinema, it's Batty's final words." He says that it "underlines the replicant's humanlike characteristics mixed with its artificial capabilities".[14] Jason Vest, writing in Future Imperfect: Philip K. Dick at the Movies, praised the delivery of the speech: "Hauer's deft performance is heartbreaking in its gentle evocation of the memories, experiences, and passions that have driven Batty's short life".[15]

The Guardian writer Michael Newton noted that "in one of the film's most brilliant sequences, Roy and Deckard pursue each other through a murky apartment, playing a vicious child's game of hide and seek. As they do so, the similarities between them grow stronger – both are hunter and hunted, both are in pain, both struggle with a hurt, claw-like hand. If the film suggests a connection here that Deckard himself might still at this point deny, at the very end doubt falls away. Roy's life closes with an act of pity, one that raises him morally over the commercial institutions that would kill him. If Deckard cannot see himself in the other, Roy can. The white dove that implausibly flies up from Roy at the moment of his death perhaps stretches belief with its symbolism; but for me at least the movie has earned that moment, suggesting that in the replicant, as in the replicated technology of film itself, there remains a place for something human."[16]

After Hauer's death in July 2019, Leah Schade of the Lexington Theological Seminary wrote in Patheos of Batty as a Christ figure. She comments on seeing Batty, with a nail through the palm of his hand, addressing Deckard, who is hanging from one of the beams:

Then, as Deckard dangles from the steel beam of a rooftop after missing his jump across the chasm, Roy appears holding a white dove. He jumps across to Deckard with ease and watches his hunter struggle to hold on. 'Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave.' Then, just as Deckard's hand slips, Roy reaches out and grabs him – with his nail-pierced hand. He lifts up Deckard and swings him onto the roof in a final act of mercy for the man who had killed his friends and intended to kill him. In that moment, Roy becomes a Christ-like figure, his hand reminiscent of Jesus's own hand nailed to the cross. The crucifixion was a saving act. And Roy's stunning last act – saving Deckard when he did not at all deserve saving – is a powerful scene of grace.[17]

Tannhäuser Gate[edit]

The place named "Tannhäuser Gate" (also written "Tannhauser Gate" and "Tanhauser Gate") is not explained in the film. It possibly derives from Richard Wagner's operatic adaptation of the legend of the medieval German knight and poet Tannhäuser.[18] The term has since been reused in other science fiction sub-genres.[19]

Joanne Taylor, in an article discussing film noir and its epistemology, remarks on the relation between Wagner's opera and Batty's reference, and suggests that Batty aligns himself with Wagner's Tannhäuser, a character who has fallen from grace with men and with God. Both man and God, as she claims, are characters whose fate is beyond their own control.[18]

Noteworthy references[edit]

The speech appears as the last track on the film's soundtrack album.[20]

Its influence can be noted in references and tributes, including:

When David Bowie's half-brother Terry Burns died by suicide in 1985, the note attached to the roses that Bowie (a fan of Blade Runner)[21] sent to his funeral read "You've seen more things than we can imagine, but all these moments will be lost, like tears washed away by the rain. God bless you. —David."[22][23]

The 1998 film Soldier, which was written by Blade Runner co-writer David Peoples and is considered by Peoples to be set in the same universe as Blade Runner, features a subtle reference to the scene when Kurt Russell's character is revealed to have fought at the Battle of Tannhauser's Gate.[24]

In Tony Scott's 2005 film Domino, Keira Knightley's character has a tattoo on the back of her neck that reads, "Tears in the Rain". This was an homage to his brother Ridley Scott, who directed Blade Runner.[25]

Rutger Hauer titled his 2007 autobiography All Those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants, and Blade Runners.[26] His family quoted the last two sentences of the monologue in his obituary notice.[27]

In the first season of Netflix's live action remake of Cowboy Bebop, during the eighth episode, Sad Clown A-Go-Go, Pierrot Le Fou paraphrases the "Tears in the Rain" monologue.[28] Later, Jet Black asks Spike Spiegel if he served at the shoulder of Orion or the Tannhäuser Gate.[29]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Commentary Track). Ridley Scott. Warner Bros. 2007 [1982].CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  2. ^ Huw Fullerton (2017), Interview with Rutger Hauer, archived from the original on July 20, 2018, retrieved July 20, 2018
  3. ^ Ridley Scott; Paul Sammon (2005), Ridley Scott: interviews, University Press of Mississippi, p. 103
  4. ^ Jim Krause (2006), Type Idea Index, p. 204, ISBN 978-1581808063
  5. ^ Mark Brake; Neil Hook (2008), "Different engines", Scientific American, Palgrave Macmillan, 259 (6): 163, Bibcode:1988SciAm.259f.111E, doi:10.1038/scientificamerican1288-111, ISBN 978-0230553972
  6. ^ Mark Rowlands (2003), The Philosopher at the End of the Universe, pp. 234–235, Roy then dies, and in perhaps the most moving death soliloquy in cinematic history...
  7. ^ a b Fullerton, Huw (July 25, 2019). "Rutger Hauer dissects his iconic "tears in rain" Blade Runner monologue". Radio Times. Archived from the original on July 20, 2018. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  8. ^ Miller, Matt (July 24, 2019). "Rutger Hauer's 'Tears in the Rain' Speech From Blade Runner Is an Iconic, Improvised Moment in Film History". Esquire. Archived from the original on July 18, 2020. Retrieved July 30, 2020.
  9. ^ Rutger Hauer & Patrick Quinlan (2007), All Those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants and Blade Runners, HarperEntertainment, ISBN 978-0-06-113389-3
  10. ^ Scott Myers (December 3, 2009). ""Blade Runner" dialogue analysis". Archived from the original on July 22, 2020. Retrieved December 6, 2018.
  11. ^ Hampton Fancher & David Peoples (February 23, 1981). "Blade Runner Screenplay". Archived from the original on June 10, 2007. Retrieved March 11, 2010.
  12. ^ 105 minutes into the Channel 4 documentary On the Edge of Blade Runner.
  13. ^ Laurence Raw (2009), The Ridley Scott encyclopedia, p. 159, ISBN 978-0810869523, archived from the original on December 9, 2020, retrieved September 26, 2020
  14. ^ S. Perkowitz (2007), Hollywood science, Columbia University Press, p. 203, ISBN 978-0231142809, archived from the original on January 20, 2021, retrieved September 26, 2020
  15. ^ Jason P. Vest (2009), Future Imperfect, University of Nebraska Press, p. 24, ISBN 978-0803218604, archived from the original on January 20, 2021, retrieved September 26, 2020
  16. ^ Newton, Michael (March 14, 2015). "Tears in rain? Why Blade Runner is timeless". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on June 17, 2017. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  17. ^ Schade, Leah D. (July 25, 2019). "Like Tears in Rain: Rutger Hauer, Blade Runner, and Being Fully Human". Patheos. Archived from the original on August 9, 2019. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  18. ^ a b Taylor, Joanne (2006), "'Here's to Plain Speaking': The Condition(s) of Knowing and Speaking in Film Noir", Florida Atlantic Comparative Studies, 48: 29–54, ISBN 978-1581129618, archived from the original on June 28, 2014, retrieved October 26, 2016
  19. ^ Hicham Lasri, Static, ISBN 978-9954-1-0261-9, pp. 255
  20. ^ Johnson, Zac (2011). "Blade Runner – Vangelis". AllMusic. Archived from the original on February 28, 2021. Retrieved August 21, 2020.
  21. ^ Rogers, Jude (January 21, 2016). "The final mysteries of David Bowie's Blackstar – Elvis, Crowley and 'the villa of Ormen'". The Guardian. Archived from the original on February 14, 2016. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  22. ^ Gilmore, Mikal (February 2, 2012). "David Bowie: How Ziggy Stardust Fell to Earth". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on February 25, 2019. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  23. ^ Trynka, Paul (2011). David Bowie: Starman. Little, Brown and Company. p. 397. ISBN 978-0316032254. Archived from the original on February 28, 2021. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  24. ^ "The Weird World of Blade Runner Spinoffs". October 2, 2017.
  25. ^ "Listen to Keira Knightley & Director Tony Scott Talk 'Domino'". Movieweb. October 13, 2005. Archived from the original on August 15, 2019. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  26. ^ Gilbey, Ryan (July 25, 2019). "Rutger Hauer obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved November 24, 2019.
  27. ^ "Rutger Hauer obituary notice". Retrieved April 8, 2021.
  28. ^ "Cowboy Bebop: Every anime Easter egg in Season 1". Polygon. November 19, 2021. Retrieved November 23, 2021.
  29. ^ "Cowboy Bebop Recap: The Tears of a Clown". New York Magazine Vulture. November 21, 2021. Retrieved November 21, 2021.