Had a friend make fun of Blade Runner (1982) recently in light of the imminent sequel. The conversation reminded me of why I enjoy the film-- there's a lot to it but that scene, late in the film, with Roy Batty-- that scene means so much.
Here's the quote:
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 Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
Howard, through the character of Roy is able to spark emotion and imagination not by pontificating, but by simply musing.
When he says "I've seen things that you people wouldn't believe," he opens a narrative gateway for the audience. The "place" of the film expands far beyond LA in 2016 and Roy shows you that there's a whole universe out there. That the off-world colonies aren't just some frontier but that there are attack ships out there as far as Orion's shoulder. That they may travel though space and time through magnificent gates with names like Tanhauser. And that finally, his six years have been full of deep and meaningful experiences that make LA, a huge city with a million people and things going on, little more than a provincial bit of all that is rather than the centre of all that is. Roy speaks in terms of nostalgia-- as a war veteran his is literally a longing, a return to the pain of war, which is preferable, presumably to the pain of death. What's remarkable is how that nostalgia is transplanted to the reader who certainly does not remembers these sights he's mentioned, but who wants to.
The entire stream of consciousness proves that contrary to popular belief of the Blade Runner universe, Roy is not some automaton-- that he's in fact alive. The audience is reminded that the deprivation of that life is morally and ethically questionable. This doesn't justify his actions but does make him tragic and sympathetic in the face of Deckard's actions because it's through the system that Deckard supports that Roy disappears to us almost as soon as we get to know him. Just as we begin get a handle on Roy's multi-faceted personality, do he slips away and is lost to time, as his tears are in the rain. It's beautiful.