Both of the Blade Runner films are brilliant pieces of cinema: both take their protagonist’s convictions and use them to challenge their personal beliefs, both take concepts like memory and artificial intelligence and explore their impact on identity, and perhaps most of all, they challenge our perceptions on the value of life. For instance, in this dystopian future where humans and replicants co-exist, are replicants truly inferior to the humans? Or is it merely presented that way because of the oppressive society they live in?
Both #BladeRunner and its sequel Blade Runner 2049 follow through on these ideas with conviction and intelligence, and as they place so much emphasis on the value of life, it is also appropriate that both of these films end with a significant death. In #BladeRunner2049’s final moments, there is a small Easter Egg in reference to a similar scene in its predecessor. Did you notice it?
Warning: Spoilers ahead for the science-fiction films Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049.
"Tears In Rain"
In Rick Deckard’s (Harrison Ford) final confrontation with the replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) in the original Blade Runner, both of these men come face to face with their own mortality. Inside of a body that is quickly deteriorating, Batty knows he only has a few more moments left to live before he dies. Deckard, however, is in a worse position than Batty. Overpowered by Batty’s superior strength and stamina, Deckard is disarmed by Batty and forced to flee from him through the building, up the railings, to the rooftops, up until he’s dangling from a ledge, nearly on the verge from falling to his death. With Batty leaping onto the roof in a single bound, he walks up to a vulnerable Deckard, knowing this is the perfect opportunity to finish him off.
Instead, he picks him up, rests him against the wall, and says: “Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave.”
Relating Deckard’s experience of being hunted to his own, Batty uses his final moments to tell Deckard of his experiences as a replicant, from fighting on Orion to traveling through Tannhauser Gate. But it’s his last line that sticks with Deckard as much as it does to us:
“All those moments will be lost through time. Like… tears. In rain.”
And with that, Batty passes away, leaving an exasperated Deckard alone to think about what he just witnessed. In this small, intimate moment, Deckard related his fear of extermination to that of Batty’s, and his final lines about tears in the rain showed how he valued life as Deckard did and how afraid he was to lose it.
It was arguably the best scene from the film, and it sets the tone for everything going forward in the sequel.
K’s Sacrifice For Deckard
In Blade Runner 2049, another replicant sacrifices his life to save Deckard’s, although not in the intimidating way that Batty did. When LAPD Officer K (Ryan Gosling) discovers he is not the human/replicant child hybrid of Deckard and Rachael, he is tasked by the replicant freedom fighters to kill Deckard so that the Wallace Corporation can’t extract any information from him. However, in a moment of defiance, K instead decides to rescue Deckard and reunite him with his daughter.
In a final battle, K engages in a fierce battle with Luv (Sylvia Hoeks), the replicant assassin loyal to the Wallace Corporation. The two exchange brutal blows with each other, with Luv even stabbing K multiple times. Yet at the end of it all, K succeeds in drowning Luv under the water, setting Deckard free and taking him to see his daughter.
Now this ending is clearly different from the original. Here the film ends with the antagonist being killed by the protagonist, instead of by their own volition. Another difference is while the first movie's death was to make a point to the transgressor, the follow-up was simply a means for survival.
In either case, this is the second time that Deckard is saved by a replicant and given a another chance at life. Deckard goes to meet his daughter for the first time while K rests outside, laying down on the staircase until he bleeds out and dies.
Tears Turn To Snowflakes
As K closes his eyes and passes away peacefully, we start to hear a familiar tune: a quiet, beautiful melody that evokes a sense of loss and sacrifice. It’s hard to tell where exactly we’ve heard this before, but it sounds familiar, almost like:
Tears in Rain.
Yes: the music they use in this scene was composed by none other than the original Blade Runner composer Vangelis, and the title of the song is “Tears In The Rain.” Furthermore, the snowflakes they use in this scene draw further comparisons to the original scene, except that whereas the rain in the original symbolized new life and beginnings, the snow here reflects a colder, harsher future that its characters are heading towards.
It’s a small reference, but the implications with the scenery, its characters and score clearly demonstrate how the scene pays homage to the iconic “Tears In The Rain” monologue. Further demonstration of why Blade Runner 2049 is a faithful and passionate love letter to its predecessor.
Did you catch the "Tears in Rain" reference in Blade Runner 2049? Let us know in the comments below!