Tears in rain monologue
"Tears in rain" (also known as the "C-Beams Speech") is a monologue delivered by character Roy Batty (portrayed by Rutger Hauer) in the 1982 Ridley Scott film Blade Runner. Written by David Peoples and altered by Hauer from the scripted lines the night before filming, the monologue is frequently quoted; critic Mark Rowlands described it as "perhaps the most moving death soliloquy in cinematic history". The speech appears as the last track on the film's soundtrack album.
Script and Hauer's input
The dying replicant Roy Batty delivers the lines to Rick Deckard, whose life Batty has just saved, despite the fact that Deckard was sent to destroy him. The scene occurs during a heavy downpour of rain, moments before Batty's own death. Reflecting on his experiences and imminent mortality he says (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.
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". 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…!
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.
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. 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".
Critical reception and analysis
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". 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".
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."
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."
The place name 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. The term has since been reused in other science fiction sub-genres.
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.
Notable references in other media
The monologue's influence can be noted in various references and tributes.
Tad Williams paid homage in 1998 to the Batty monologue in River of Blue Fire (the second book of the Otherland series): "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe [...] Attack ships on fire off the shores of the Nonestic Ocean. I watched magic blunderbusses flash and glitter in the dark near Glinda's palace. All those moments will be lost in time like tears in rain."
Rosa Montero and Lilit Zekulin Thwaites's science fiction novel Tears in Rain (2012) is set in a future where self-aware androids live among humans. The main character, Bruna Husky, is aware of her mortality in the same way that Roy Batty and his crew were, and Bruna often thinks about the significance of Batty's monologue. The androids in the novel, like those of Blade Runner, are known as replicants.
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) 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."
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". Tony Scott was the brother of Blade Runner's director, Ridley Scott.
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Roy then dies, and in perhaps the most moving death soliloquy in cinematic history...
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