Not my favorite movie, but it’s a sci-fi cult classic in large part for its dark, gritty portrayal of the future city.
Is it better to burn twice as bright but only live half as long? Such was the fate of the replicants in Blade Runner, synthetic humanoid beings designed to do jobs that humans deemed too dangerous or undesirable. They had gifts like superhuman strength and toughness, but they were also designed to die after a set amount of time. Such was their gift and their curse.
Roy Batty and his gang are set to ‘expire,’ and they have returned to Earth seeking a way to extend their lives. Their creator cannot and/or refuses to help them, and in the end, Roy resigns to his fate with poetic wistfulness in one of the most famous quotes in sci-fi:
“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.” Roy Batty
Is it better to burn twice as bright but only live half as long? This is not an idle question – many people have lived tragically short but brilliant lives, whether by choice or accident. Many visionary artists and thinkers also go this route, such as Vincent Van Gogh and Friedrich Nietzsche. Philip K. Dick, the author of the story on which Blade Runner is based, was a gifted writer whose life was cut short by drugs and a mental breakdown. Instability seems to be the price they pay for living so close to the edge, the creative, the great unknown. Anonymity and under-appreciation during their lives only makes it worse.
We remember these luminaries not just for their contributions, but also for their brevity on this earth. We can’t help but wonder, ‘What if they had lived longer?’ What other wonders could they have bestowed on humanity?
You might even know such people. They may not be of the earth shattering variety, but they are brilliant and special to you in their own ways. Appreciate them while they are here, before they vanish like tears in rain.