Does it take an android to teach us how to to be human?
Last weekend, my son Chris and I rewatched Bladerunner 2049 and he was kind enough to explain the parts that I still did not understand.
I think there is great joy in watching our children become smarter than we are. I was pleased that he was so on top of something that I clearly was missing. That gave way to me thinking about the first film, Bladerunner, and what about that movie sticks with me as one of my favorite movies of all time.
It features what many would say is the greatest death soliloquy ever. Today’s quote. It was perhaps Rutger Hauer’s greatest screen moment in his career, and he would end up passing away in 2019, the same year as his character passes away in Bladerunner.
I don’t know if it is the art direction, the stellar acting between Harrison and Rutger, Ridley Scott’s direction or Vangelis’ haunting score, but there is something about this scene that is as iconic as any movie scene ever to me.
Here is an article from screenrant.com that sums this up for me….
Instilled with sentience and the ability to feel, Roy naturally yearns for more, as his potential is limited by the four-year life span embedded into his genetic coding, as a fail-safe measure by the Tyrell Corporation. By leading a group of renegade replicants, Roy attempts to negotiate for more life with his maker, who dismisses the idea, like a cruel god attempting to comfort their creation with empty clichés. One sees Roy’s face contorted by rage, grief, and existential torment, which is followed by an act of Oedipal violence when Roy kisses his creator. On returning to J.F. Sebastian’s quarters, Roy finds Pris, his only remaining friend, dead at the hands of Deckard. Feral anguish consumes him and he chases Deckard like a wounded hound until there is a point in which Deckard is dangling from a metal strut on a roof, inches away from death. For the first time, one sees Deckard gripped by fear – a fear that torments replicants throughout their existence, which is summed up in Roy’s emphatic lines:
“Quite an experience to live in fear isn’t it? That’s what it is to be a slave.”
Apart from being a slave to a cruel, indifferent world, replicants like Roy are also a slave to time, which is too brief a candle to burn into a lasting legacy. Despite being in a position of power in Blade Runner’s final moments, Roy chooses to save Deckard in an act of pity, as he can see himself in the other, even if Deckard himself is incapable of the same. It is then that Roy, clutching a white dove, says:
“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.”
These lines brim with poetry, which, interestingly, had been enhanced by Hauer himself, who rewrote these lines into a shorter, emotionally impactful version and added the “tears in rain” phrase. This moment in Blade Runner is both aesthetically and thematically stunning: Roy, rain-drenched and battered, captures the essence of being both man and machine, along with the eternal tussle between life and death, and the horrifying beauty that lies in between. Instead of “raging against the dying of the light”, as he does throughout the film, Roy acknowledges that time waits for no one, and spends his final moments reminiscing memories experienced throughout his limited existence, before succumbing to his fate.
Although ships catching fire or gleaming weapons in the darkness of space in Blade Runner signify a life of hardship and violence for Roy, these are the only memories he can cling to. When one’s life flashes before their eyes, it is natural to look at painful memories with nostalgia, even longing, and find beauty amid chaos. Those moments, that make up for Roy’s life, are gone, washed away, futile, like tears in rain.