Tears in rain soliloquy
"Tears in Rain" is the final monologue of the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner, delivered by the replicant Roy Batty, portrayed by Rutger Hauer. The final form, altered from the scripted lines and much improvised by Hauer on the eve of filming, has entered popular culture as "perhaps the most moving death soliloquy in cinematic history" and is an often quoted piece of science fiction writing.
Script and improvisation
In Blade Runner, the dying replicant Roy Batty introspectively makes the speech during a rain downpour, moments before his own death:
I've... seen things you people wouldn't believe... [contemptuous laugh] 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 [small cough] tears... in... rain. Time... to die...
In the Channel 4 documentary On the Edge of Blade Runner, Hauer, director Ridley Scott, and screenwriter David Peoples asserted that Hauer wrote the "Tears in Rain" speech. There were earlier versions of the speech in Peoples' draft screenplays; one included the sentence "I rode on the back decks of a blinker and watched c-beams glitter in the dark, near the Tanhauser Gate" 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" although the original script, displayed during the documentary, before Hauer's rewrite, does not mention "Tannhäuser Gate":
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 the 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...!
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 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."
When Hauer performed the scene, the film crew applauded and some even cried. This was due to the power of the dying speech combined with coming to the end of an exhausting shoot.
"Tears in Rain" is also the name of the last track of the official score for the film by Vangelis that scores the scene. Elements of the Main Titles theme support Batty's speech, structured with strings, brass, and church bells. Michael Hannan and Melissa Carey describe the feeling of the scene as calm but forceful in its impact:
Here the mood is more serene but the strings and brass orchestration is nonetheless very powerfully scored. Both these cues are examples of monumentalising the drama of near death and death itself. The church bells bring an effective religious dimension to the scenes to strengthen visual imagery such as the dove that Roy releases as he dies.
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."
Tannhauser Gate, Tannhäuser Gate and Tanhauser Gate are variant spellings of this unexplained placename which is used only once in the film. It has since been reused in other science fiction sub-genres, in popular music and critically reviewed. The name probably derives from Richard Wagner's operatic adaption of the legend of the medieval German knight and poet Tannhäuser. 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, she claims, are characters whose fate is beyond their own control.
References in other media
In the Adult Swim series Venture Bros episode "Venture Libre," the characters are on a mission to find a rogue re-animated soldier in South America. Hank Venture warns everyone to flee if "we find him in bicycle shorts, talking about 'tears in the rain.'" Additionally, in the season 4 episode "Assisted Suicide," when describing how bizarre his life as a henchman has become, claims among other things to have "seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion."
- Ridley Scott, Paul Sammon (2005), Ridley Scott: interviews, University Press of Mississippi, p. 103
- Jim Krause (2006), Type Idea Index, p. 204, ISBN 9781581808063
- 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..."
- 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
- Hampton Fancher and David Peoples (23 February 1981). "Blade Runner Screenplay". Retrieved 2010-03-11.
- Rutger Hauer and Patrick Quinlan (2007), All Those Moments: Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants and Blade Runners, HarperEntertainment, ISBN 978-0-06-113389-3
- 105 minutes into the Channel 4 documentary On the Edge of Blade Runner.
- Laurence Raw (2009), The Ridley Scott encyclopedia, p. 159, ISBN 9780810869523
- "Batty's dying speech in the rain", The Observer, 6 February 2000
- Hannan, Michael; Melissa Carey (2004), "Ambient Soundscapes in Blade Runner", in Philip Hayward, Off the Planet: Music, Sound and Science Fiction Cinema, Indiana University Press, pp. 155–156, ISBN 0-86196-644-9
- S. Perkowitz (2007), Hollywood science, Columbia University Press, p. 203, ISBN 9780231142809
- Jason P. Vest (2009), Future Imperfect, University of Nebraska Press, p. 24, ISBN 0803218605
- Hicham Lasri, Static, ISBN 978-9954-1-0261-9, ff 255
- 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
- Allon, Yoram; Del Cullen, Hannah Patterson. Contemporary North American film directors, ISBN 978-1-903364-52-9, p.14, "the two movies are connected by a single passing reference to Tannhauser Gate."
- One Day Son, This Will All Be Yours