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"Tears in Rain" (also known as the "C-Beams Speech"[1]) is a soliloquy delivered by character Roy Batty (portrayed by Rutger Hauer) in the 1982 Ridley Scott film Blade Runner. Altered from the scripted lines and improvised by Hauer during filming,[2][3] the monologue is frequently quoted;[4] critic Mark Rowlands described it as "perhaps the most moving death soliloquy in cinematic history".[5] The speech appears as the last track on the film's soundtrack album.

Contents

Script and improvisationEdit

The dying replicant Roy Batty delivers the speech to Rick Deckard, moments after Batty saved his life despite Deckard being 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 wrote the "Tears in Rain" speech. Earlier versions in Peoples' draft screenplays included the sentence, "I rode on the back decks of a blinker and watched C-beams glitter in the dark, near the Tannhäuser Gate"[6] 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] although the original script, displayed during the documentary, before Hauer's rewrite, does not mention "Tannhäuser Gate":

I have 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.[8] 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".[9] When Hauer performed the scene, the film crew applauded, and some even cried.[10]

Critical receptionEdit

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".[11] 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".[12]

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."[13]

Tannhäuser GateEdit

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

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.[14]

References in other mediaEdit

The monologue's influence can be noted in various references and tributes.

The band Revolting Cocks released a 1985 single with two versions of an electronic track, called "Attack Ships ..." on side A, and "... On Fire" on side B; in recordings of live performances, it it rendered as "Attack Ships on Fire".

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 the 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."[16]

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.[17]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Blade Runner: The Final Cut (Commentary Track). Ridley Scott. Warner Bros. 2007 [1982]. 
  2. ^ Ridley Scott; Paul Sammon (2005), Ridley Scott: interviews, University Press of Mississippi, p. 103 
  3. ^ Jim Krause (2006), Type Idea Index, p. 204, ISBN 9781581808063 
  4. ^ 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 
  5. ^ 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... 
  6. ^ Hampton Fancher & David Peoples (23 February 1981). "Blade Runner Screenplay". Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  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. ^ 105 minutes into the Channel 4 documentary On the Edge of Blade Runner.
  9. ^ Laurence Raw (2009), The Ridley Scott encyclopedia, p. 159, ISBN 9780810869523 
  10. ^ "The top 10 film moments - 6: Blade Runner — Batty's dying speech in the rain", The Observer, 6 February 2000, retrieved 6 October 2014 
  11. ^ S. Perkowitz (2007), Hollywood science, Columbia University Press, p. 203, ISBN 9780231142809 
  12. ^ Jason P. Vest (2009), Future Imperfect, University of Nebraska Press, p. 24, ISBN 0803218605 
  13. ^ Newton, Michael (14 March 2015). "Tears in rain? Why Blade Runner is timeless". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 July 2017. 
  14. ^ 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 
  15. ^ Hicham Lasri, Static, ISBN 978-9954-1-0261-9, ff 255
  16. ^ Williams, Tad (1998). Otherland: River of Blue Fire. NY, USA: DAW Books. p. 303. ISBN 0-88677-777-1. 
  17. ^ Kross, Karin L. "Cyberpunk is the New Retro: Rosa Montero's Tears in Rain". Tor.com. Tor Books. Retrieved 28 May 2015.