Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Rutger Hauer Passes Through The Tannhäuser Gate

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.

This one hit us all hard and never let up.

I wish I could say when, exactly, I saw Blade Runner for the first time, but all I know was that it was sometime in middle school.  Some sad, disheveled suburban kid in oversized glasses who had no idea Sean Young was wearing mid-century fashions as future noir drag, just keeping up with this movie that, even with a voice over, had so many ideas going on.  And then the final confrontation between killer android and out-classed hunter, something I'd seen before, changed and became something else.

Yes, there was the chase.  Yes, Roy Batty pursued Rick Deckard, taking him within an inch of his life before... saving him.  Before trying to share some last bit of who he was and what was lost in passing.  And then, from the moment of Batty's discovery that there is no more life, you can reverse engineer the rest and try to decide what he meant to ever do with Deckard, even after he found Pris taken from him and the clock wound down.

It's all gonna go, man.  Life, whatever it is, is a gift, and you've only got the one.  Treasure yours, and treasure it in others.  It's all going to slip away, all those terrible and glorious moments.

We gotta learn that somewhere.  And one place this suburban kid baking in the Texas sun figured it out was watching a robot die on a rainy rooftop.

Lately I've mostly given up on the auteur theory of cinema.  Blade Runner doesn't exist without Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick.  Blade Runner doesn't exist without Syd Mead.  Or the influence of noir.  The soundtrack by Vangelis.  Ridley Scott can be counted as the conductor, but he didn't build the music hall nor bring all the instruments.

Among those contributors you can count Rutger Hauer going rogue and rethinking his character's final words.

The shoot for what wound up being the Tears in Rain speech was a bad day.  It's been a while since I read what happened, exactly, but things were delayed.  There's a reason it looks like the sun is coming up - it was.  That was a night shoot that ran long.

The speech was intended to be longer.  Hauer read his script and, asking no one, cut the lines down to the simple visuals with a few proper nouns to connote the wonder of what he'd seen, a mystery to us in the suburbs of the mid-80's.  Something fantastic and wonderful.  And, reportedly, Hauer added that final bit himself.

"All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain".

That's Hauer, who understood Batty enough to change his own dialog, didn't ask permission, and found words that would become some of the most quoted in all of cinema.  He crafted something that would be nonsense dialog in the mouth of another actor (someone who didn't seem perfectly possible as a murder-squad android with a taste for grim humor) or in another scene.

But, yeah.

There are innumerable reasons we come back to Blade Runner, but not the least of them is Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty, a character we have to come to terms with as simply seeking what we take for granted and do nothing with: more life.  And cherishing what we've got.

Hauer has passed at the age of 75 in the Netherlands. 

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