Having made comment on the respective merits of the two Blade Runner movies the other day I went home thinking back on the original. I prefer the sequel, but there is a scene in the original Blade Runner which is one of my favourite movie sequences of all time. It’s a favourite with a lot of people, for good reason. It’s Roy Batty’s soliloquy when he knows he can’t fight it any more, when he knows his time is done – and yet feels wonder, and some pride, at the life he has been afforded:
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.
Some time after I had reached rock bottom this scene popped into my head, and in the weeks and months after was never far away. I felt a little like Roy Batty. I had lived a life. I had seen things few do, had experienced moments of wonder and profundity. I had immersed myself in experience and been richly rewarded for it.
All that was true, but there I was, with nothing, and with nothing concrete to hope for. I clung to a life I once had, grateful for it – grateful at least that I had that – but isolated by my present circumstances. I wanted to proclaim it, I’m not this homeless man, I am rather the man who has seen these things, been to these wondrous places, live moments of sublime insight.
Once something is gone, it’s gone. I remember when my grandmother died, then my mother years after, how those worlds died with them. They live only as long as they are in someone’s mind but, even so, they fade, they are of a past that cannot be returned to. It’s one reason I write, I think, to pin down and make permanent that sense of transient life.
I have moved on, but sometimes those words still return to me, like a reminder. They are still true to some meaning, though it less defined now that I have at least something, though very little.
Regardless, it’s one of the great movie scenes.