If asked for the title of my favourite film, I would have to say “Blade Runner “, which I saw on its first release back in 1982. Something about it struck a deep chord in me; it is one of the few films I have on DVD and which I have watched several times over the years.
It is also one of those that I thought was an improvement on the book that inspired it (“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K Dick). It is more than just another dystopian sci-find action movie, it has depth and an ambiguity too rare in mainstream films. The characters are neither simply “bad” nor “good”, they are driven to terrible deeds by the desperation of survival and the fear and pain of not knowing how much time they have left, yet they have the potential for change and compassion within them.
Rutger Hauer’s portrayal of the main and longest-surviving “villain”(or should that be “prey”?), Roy Batty, moves me still with his mixture of menace and fragility in a futile mission to extend his four-year lifespan. His soliloquy, (you can find it on YouTube easily) delivered to Harrison Ford as the hunter (“Blade Runner”) Deckart captures for me the essence of the impermanence of all our experiences, however profound or solid they seem.
It came back to me, today, as I worked alongside some less-highly-motivated pupils in an art class, asked to sit with them and give gentle encouragement and example. I had a go at the same painting exercise, watercolour versions of the single eye motif that seems to be a feature of much teenage art and doodling. As I blew and trailed the wet paint, the last line of the monologue seemed appropriate:
“all these… moments.. will be lost, in time, like… tears in rain”
I’ve been experiencing this a lot, recently, the understanding growing from a logical thought and observation to a powerful experience that can hit me suddenly, like somebody turning on a bright light in the middle of the night; it’s a similar shock. The realisation, no, a different word would be more appropriate, perception? … that suddenly the things I’ve just done, whether over the last few years or days or hours, are gone, completely, existing only as echoes in my memories. I’ve had this when returning home after holidays or from visiting friends, almost like the fleeting shock of seeing the ‘not there’ of a familiar object that has been moved from its accustomed place.
At one time I found these moments almost unbearable, I had to sing, shout, find a distraction, seek out company, look at the photos or sketches or letters, anything to try to verify the ‘reality’ of those past moments or relationships. Now though, something has shifted in me, these feelings arise, sometimes intensely, but I notice them passing much more quickly too, almost the moment I see them for what they are. I notice the same with the painful and frightening experiences, too, and I’ve had a few of them in this last year.
Some might think this a callousness or detatchment or devaluing of people or things, but this is not the case for me, I know those feelings too and they are not it. It’s more a feeling of not needing to or trying to hold onto them so tightly in order for things to feel “right”. It’s more like being able to appreciate them while accepting the inevitable shift in circumstances; after all, everything we meet and have goes, in one way or another, sometime, we can see that even if it doesn’t hit home until it happens. No, I value those experiences and love those people just as much, sometimes that’s difficult, but how things are now is simply how things are now. And I’m fortunate to be able to say there have been a lot of wonderful moments.
Yet I’m still getting used to this subtle but significant shift in my experience, it’s like I’m getting used to the rain, maybe seeing that it’s all water, too.