The best science fiction stories capture our imaginations with clever worldbuilding, cool visuals, and interesting ideas. But sometimes the most powerful thing of all can be just a person speaking eloquently.
Nothing else can get the heart pounding or blood pumping more than words. No more so than when they are uttered in the form of memorable speeches given in some of the greatest movies in science fiction.
Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty in Blade Runner (1982)
In the final act of Blade Runner, Deckard (Harrison Ford) flees the vengeful replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer), outmatched by his strength and rage. He finds himself hanging from the side of a building but is unexpectedly saved by the android before he falls.
Aware that his four-year lifespan is coming to an inevitable end, Batty summarises his experiences and perspective to his one-time adversary:
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 stated 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.
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 actually “put a knife in it” the night before filming, without Scott’s knowledge. In an interview, 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”.