"Tears in Rain", also referred to as "The C-Beams Speech", is a brief monologue delivered by replicant Roy Batty (portrayed by Rutger Hauer) in the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner. The final form, altered from the scripted lines and 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 the film, the dying replicant Roy Batty makes this speech to Harrison Ford's character Deckard moments after saving him from falling off a tall building. Deckard had been tasked to kill him and his replicant friends. The words are spoken during a downpour, moments before Batty's death:
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 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 Tannhäuser 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 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. 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."
When Hauer performed the scene, the film crew applauded and some even cried.
The speech is the final track on the 1994 official release of Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack.
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 place name which is used only once in the film. It has since been reused in other science fiction subgenres. 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.