Tears in rain monologue

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"Tears in rain" (also known as the "C-Beams Speech")[1] 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,[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] The speech appears as the last track on the film's soundtrack album.

Script and Hauer's input[edit]

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 terminate 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 largely 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".[7] 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…![8]

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.[9]

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.[10] 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".[11]

Critical reception[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".[12] 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".[13]

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."[14]

Tannhäuser Gate[edit]

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.[15] The term has since been reused in other science fiction sub-genres.[16]

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.[15]

References in other media[edit]

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."[17]

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.[18]

When David Bowie's half-brother, Terry Burns, committed suicide in 1985, the note attached to the roses that Bowie (a fan of Blade Runner[19]) 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."[20][21]


  1. ^ Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Commentary Track). Ridley Scott. Warner Bros. 2007 [1982].CS1 maint: others (link)
  2. ^ Huw Fullerton (2017), Interview with Rutger Hauer
  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 9781581808063
  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 9780230553972
  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. ^ Rutger Hauer & Patrick Quinlan (2007), All Those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants and Blade Runners, HarperEntertainment, ISBN 978-0-06-113389-3
  8. ^ Scott Myers (3 December 2009). ""Blade Runner" dialogue analysis". Retrieved 6 December 2018.
  9. ^ Hampton Fancher & David Peoples (23 February 1981). "Blade Runner Screenplay". Retrieved 11 March 2010.
  10. ^ 105 minutes into the Channel 4 documentary On the Edge of Blade Runner.
  11. ^ Laurence Raw (2009), The Ridley Scott encyclopedia, p. 159, ISBN 9780810869523
  12. ^ S. Perkowitz (2007), Hollywood science, Columbia University Press, p. 203, ISBN 9780231142809
  13. ^ Jason P. Vest (2009), Future Imperfect, University of Nebraska Press, p. 24, ISBN 0803218605
  14. ^ Newton, Michael (14 March 2015). "Tears in rain? Why Blade Runner is timeless". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 July 2017.
  15. ^ 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 9781581129618
  16. ^ Hicham Lasri, Static, ISBN 978-9954-1-0261-9, ff 255
  17. ^ Williams, Tad (1998). Otherland: River of Blue Fire. NY, USA: DAW Books. p. 303. ISBN 0-88677-777-1.
  18. ^ Kross, Karin L. "Cyberpunk is the New Retro: Rosa Montero's Tears in Rain". Tor.com. Tor Books. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  19. ^ Rogers, Jude (21 January 2016). "The final mysteries of David Bowie's Blackstar – Elvis, Crowley and 'the villa of Ormen'". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  20. ^ Gilmore, Mikal (2 February 2012). "David Bowie: How Ziggy Stardust Fell to Earth". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  21. ^ Trynka, Paul (2011). David Bowie: Starman. Little, Brown and Company. p. 397. ISBN 9780316032254. Retrieved 24 February 2019.