Blade Runner: crocodile tears in rain?

I’ll say up front: this is totally fanboy rambling.  Take it as such.

In Ridley Scott’s classic film Blade Runner, evil corporate head Elton Tyrell explains to hero Rick Deckard how the Nexus 6 replicants, the closest the company’s come to true human beings, have emotional issues since they’re born fully adult and live only four years.


Joe Turkel as Tyrell.

Tyrell: We began to recognize in them a strange obsession. After all, they are emotionally inexperienced, with only a few years in which to store up the experiences which you and I take for granted. If we gift them with a past, we create a cushion or a pillow for their emotions, and consequently, we can control them better.

Deckard: Memories. You’re talking about memories.

This is established through the character of Rachel, a replicant who believes she’s a human being.

Now, flash forward to the end of the film, to Roy Batty’s famous speech (written by actor Rutger Hauer).


Rutger Hauer as Batty.

Batty: 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 Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time… like tears in rain.

This is justly considered one of the highlights of SF cinema, and one of the great bits of cinema dialogue, period.  It points up the tragedy of the replicants, doomed to short and terrible lives.


Tyrell says they give the Nexus 6 memory cushions.

Roy Batty is a Nexus 6.

So…what if these memories never really happened?  


Bryant (M. Emmett Walsh) and Deckard (Harrison Ford).

In Deckard’s briefing, Bryant says about Batty, “Combat model. Optimum self-sufficiency.”  What better memories to implant in a replicant destined for combat than thoughts of other battles he’s won, or at least survived.  What if Batty has never seen actual combat, but only believes he has?  And that reinforces the parallel stories of Deckard and Batty, especially given what Deckard finds out about himself when he sees Gaff’s final gift outside his apartment.

I have no idea if anyone else has ever noticed this, but it struck me this morning.  Any obsessive Blade Runner fans out there?  Leave your two cents in the comments.



13 Comments on “Blade Runner: crocodile tears in rain?”

  1. This film still baffles me…even though I watched it countless times.
    At one time I had to write an essay about who is the real Baddy character for Critical Reading of Television and Films segment of a college course.
    Which didn’t help…only spoiled watching anything afterwards because you suddenly look for a deeper meaning.
    Which is not meant as a criticism.
    After all as artists we are all influenced by what is. around us and inside us and dreams and memories, either self perceived or imparted by other being or events are part of life.
    In a way therefore, in my view anyway, we are all Replicants to some extent.

  2. In 1984, I was at a comic book convention in Asheville, NC. In one of the rooms in the hotel, there was a rented room that showed the popular films of the day. Blade Runner was among the movies shown, and after it was there was a great debate about this very thing.
    So, to truly throw some pepper into that particular stew, I asked the one person leading the charge for “His memories are real” the following: “Are you 100% sure your memories are real? How do you know that what you ‘remember’ is actually someone else’s dream they told you about?”
    At first, he stood there like an out of water guppy with his mouth going up and down, and I gave what some in the room later said was my coup de grace “Are you certain we are even having this conversation and it is not something implanted into our memories to see how we deal with certain situations.”

  3. I have to admit, this has never occurred to me before. And I’ve watched this film many times. It absolutely makes sense that it would be an implanted memory. Now I have to watch again with this in mind! And by “what Deckard finds out about himself”, I guess I can assume that you are in the camp that believes Deckard is a Replicant as well?

  4. Interestingly, I feel this only deepens the tragedy of his search for meaning and humanity. If these things HAD actually happened to him, we could console ourselves by saying his life of pain is over. He’s done his part, whether it was justified or not (which is irrelevant to this), and if he has a soul he can be seen to move on to his higher plain.

    If these things NEVER happened to him, it just means we breed the clones because we CAN, not because we need to, and then they are just left homeless and seeking meaning for no good reason and then die knowing nothing more than they did when they were bred. If Tyrell is using the same memories over and over in various combinations, we’re let with the idea that there are hordes of Roy Batty’s out there, all looking for something they’ll never find, all remaining unfulfilled and dying without understanding, and for no other reasons than “just because”. And that’s much more evil than anything the clones did on their Quest for Life.

  5. so, I never considered this in my many viewings of the movie, but they do also mention that they stole a ship out in space I think at a mining colony (YAY!! another excuse to watch the movie again) so I always just extrapolated that they were busy fighting, and because they grew close, decided they didn’t want to die, alone or together. that’s my own imagination adding to the story, but it is very interesting to think that Batty KNEW this at the end, and was proud of those memories, even if they would be lost just like everyone else when they die.

    1. oops sorry, I meant to say that I thin Batty knew the memories were fake, but did not care in the end, but I also find it interesting to think he didn’t know as you have suggested. sorry I guess I was thinking to fast for typing and dropped that idea from the post so it reads halfway

  6. I think Batty is doing something more basic and more human. If you remember of all the replicants he was the most intelligent he would have had a stronger grasp of self in the realization that those cushion memories were false and that his true memories of what he did see were something of value to pass on to Deckard in the limited amount of time he had….he wanted to be remembered…..

  7. I’ve never considered if Roy’s ‘Rain soliloquy’

    were indeed the recollections of implanted memories. Quite the salient observation. I’ve been a fan of this film since I first saw it in the theater on a Friday night in 1982.

    A testament to the writing and visuals, plus Rutger’s wonderfully nuanced performance which makes Blade Runner relevant decades later.

  8. Pingback: Haiku Review – Blade Runner (1982) | Good Will Watching

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