Lengthy obituaries of Rutger Hauer have appeared in publications the world over. But his Blade Runner co-star, Daryl Hannah, spoke for the grieving fans of the Dutch actor in just three words: “Tears in rain.” It is a fragment from the most powerful death soliloquy ever seen on screen, where Hauer’s character, Roy Batty, prepares to die in the Los Angeles of the future in driving rain, after hand to hand battle with the cop Deckard (Harrison Ford). He holds a white dove in one hand, recalling memories from a short life in space: “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.” His fingers loosen, and the dove takes wing.
Hannah had played Pris, the love interest of Roy Batty. Two dispensable replicants created for dangerous missions, with no sense of identity, programmed to die before they can develop it. But they do, and know that they must succumb either to their rigged biological clock, or the cop pursuing them. In the film, Hauer played a humanoid, but explored what it means to be human. It outshined his other appearances in Escape from Sobibor (which got him a Golden Globe), Batman Begins, Blind Fury and dozens of other roles from 1969 to 2019. Only his portrayal of a cannibal priest in Sin City came even close.
Hauer shone in dark roles. But as sci-fi fans know, the left hand of darkness is light. In Blade Runner, Roy Batty’s maker tells him: “The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very, very brightly, Roy.” That quote, from a film that seared Hauer into the race memory of cinema, is an apt epitaph.