It’s January 8, 2016, and a dangerous combat replicant, designation “Roy Batty,” has just been activated. Three years from now, he and three of his fellow humanoid machines — nearly indistinguishable from flesh-and-blood people — will escape and be hunted. Batty will die, and all of his life’s moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
Batty is, of course, Rutger Hauer’s character in Blade Runner, Ridley Scott’s masterpiece and one of the greatest works of science-fiction cinema ever created. Near the beginning of the film, the camera focuses on a computer screen showing Batty’s vital stats, and we learn his incept date is January 8, 2016. From Scott’s perspective in 1982, today’s date is a far-flung future where L.A. looks like a foreboding Shinjuku, cars fly, and much of humanity has fled the urban dystopia for the safety of “off-world.”
In the 2016 of reality, we’ve seen things the people of 1982 wouldn’t believe: We have Uber labor disputes instead of flying cars; commercial space travel is a dick-measuring contest between billionaires, not accessible to the average human; and L.A.… well, L.A. is kind of a scary dystopia. Gotta give Scott and P.K. Dick that one.
Batty is perhaps best known for the partially improvised monologue that marks his death, the famous “tears in the rain” speech:
Hauer, who perhaps understood his character better than Scott did, explained that he changed the monologue himself to emphasize that Batty simply wanted to “make his mark on existence … the replicant in the final scene, by dying, shows Deckard what a real man is made of.”
More than 30 years after Blade Runner’s release, it’s clear he has made his mark. Dozens, if not hundreds, have wished Batty a “happy incept date” on social media today:
Incidentally, Batty’s isn’t the only incept date we can celebrate this year. Pris Stratton, the female replicant (“basic pleasure model”) played by Daryl Hannah, was activated on Valentine’s Day 2016.