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. Time to die.
There was a time I had memorized those now immortalized last words said by the dying Rutger Hauer in Ridley Scott’s 1982 film, Blade Runner. Although I said a quick prayer for Hauer upon learning that he had died this week, I did not ponder the countless times I watched that movie. Or why.
Until a few days ago when I read Robert Orlando’s article, Tears in Rain: Blade Runner as Theo-Drama.
And it all came back. Can it really be almost forty years ago?
and will therefore quote Orlando’s intriguing definition:
The concept of Theo-Drama, as developed in Hans Urs von Balthasar’s seminal five-volume work of that title, flips the construct in Western philosophy of the pursuit of “the good, the true, and the beautiful.” Balthasar reverses that order of exploration, treating beauty as the primary object of study, and rejecting the notion that beauty is merely an aesthetic appendage of goodness and truth. Anything that is essentially good or true, he insists, must first be deeply, fundamentally beautiful.
The dystopian imagery of 2019 [it was, indeed, 2019!] Los Angeles that seemed inconceivably futuristic to my far younger self was the antithesis of beautiful…or good…or true. And yet, the film was strangely powerful the first and then the 10th time I watched it.
The dialogue. In case you’ve forgotten, a retired detective, Harrison Ford is called out of retirement to find and terminate four Replicants (androids in human bodies with supernatural strength and pre-programmed four- year- life span) who have escaped to earth. The four are seeking their creator to seek an extension of their short life spans.
When Batty (brilliantly played by Rutger Hauer) finally reaches the head of the company producing the Replicants, Tyrell, this brief exchange occurs:
Would you… like to be upgraded?
Batty: I had in mind something a little more radical.
Tyrell: What… what seems to be the problem?
Tyrell: Death; ah, well that’s a little out of my jurisdiction. You…
Batty: *I want more life, fucker/father!*
Each time I saw this, I cried. Often sobbed.
Because I was searching, hungry, yearning for a faith I had walked away from as a teen. None of us is immune…we have a hole in our hearts and souls…one that can be filled only with Jesus.
I appreciate the journey back in time galvanized by Orlando’s excellent article. Returning to those days when there was no God in my life, just an endless litany of tired lies and pretense. Like these two: “Marriage is a medieval institution, ” and “Pope John Paul is a reactionary troglodyte.”
I cannot quoting resist quoting Orlando’s last paragraph as a fitting eulogy to Rutger Hauer:
Rutger Hauer’s flame has been extinguished, but his portrayal of Roy Batty will continue to cast light, illuminating Blade Runner as theo-drama in its deepest and darkest moments. And as fragmented and isolated as our existence may seem at times, we will be reminded that we are part of a larger narrative, a fuller drama, one with eternal direction.
In these seemingly darkest of days, when ‘the good, the true and the beautiful’ seem mostly absent, the memories invoked of this film reveal His Presence in each and every one of our hearts and minds. Back then, during those years I refer to as lost, He stood there, patiently waiting for me to turn back.
Such a simple act, getting down on our knees, but one that changes everything, leaving not one thing untouched.