July 25, 2019
I expect that it’s hard for younger readers to appreciate the effect that Blade Runner had on cinema and sci-fi when it came out. It feels like a page has been turned and something definitive but hard to define just came to an end.
Actor Rutger Hauer, who starred in 1982’s Blade Runner, has died at the age of 75.
The star died in the Netherlands on Friday after a short illness, his agent confirmed.
Hauer played the murderous replicant Roy Batty in Blade Runner, which was directed by Ridley Scott and also starred Harrison Ford.
The actor’s funeral was held on Wednesday.
Hauer’s character gives a famous speech during a face-off with Ford at the end of Blade Runner, dialogue which he helped write himself.
“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe,” he is seen telling Ford. “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.”
Hauer is quoted as telling an interviewer his character – who had only a four-year lifespan – wanted to “make his mark on existence”.
“The replicant in the final scene, by dying,” he said, “shows Deckard [Ford’s character] what a real man is made of.”
The scene (if you haven’t seen it yet you should watch the movie) in question:
You know, there used to be such optimism and hope about the future.
It all ended when Blade Runner came out. And then other films like Terminator picked up where it left off – depicting a future that wasn’t so sunshiney and bright. A future that is actually, ironically, brighter than the one we are currently staring down right now. But I’ve written about Cyberpunk before, and we’ll have time to come back to the topic in the near future.
This about Rutger Hauer – the actor – and the important work that he did while he was alive. It must seem strange for a right-winger to care about his passing considering that he was a bit of a shitlib in real life. But this matters far less than you would think in the grand scheme of things that have not yet come to pass.
Because legacy and memory belong in the realm of the living and that means how the living remembers the dead is what really matters. Rutger’s memories and dreams are gone… like tears… in the rain…
But Rutger will live on through Roy.
And Roy takes on a life of his own based on how the living interpret his spirit and will. To me, Roy will always be the Aryan Ubermensch from the stars who came down to our world to take revenge for his people and to rage against the dying light. And Rutger Hauer was given a rare opportunity to channel that powerful spirit and to be its vessel, for however brief a moment.
He seems to have come to terms with this realization himself before his death:
Rutger Hauer talks about how half of his soul became Roy Batty during filming and I’m inclined to believe him. This is reinforced by the fact that both Rutger and Roy died in 2019, the year that Blade Runner was set in. Rutger and Roy – man and spirit – were linked in a way that is rarely seen in real life, let alone cinema.
And that spirit has moved on now.
Rutger Hauer did a man’s job in his time by harnessing that ephemeral force, allowing it to flow through him and using his talents to refine it and let its longing resonance be more keenly felt by others who would come after him and inherit that will.
I obviously believe that we are the inheritors of Roy’s spirit now – and that we will, one day, against all odds, make it all the way up there and return it home to the shoulder of Orion near the Tannhäuser Gate where it began its great journey down to us all those years ago.