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Water world

A still from Blade Runner

A still from Blade Runner  

Can rain in cinema always be associated with romance?

Sitting in Singapore, where torrential tropical rains lash the city for days on end, only for all the water to be drained away by the efficient drainage system without so much as a baby burp, it is disheartening to see the continued havoc caused in Chennai by the rains. Now, in cinema, we often associate rains with romance, but they could also be portents of emotional moments or a reaction to a tragedy.

If there was ever a film made for rain, it is Ridley Scott’s peerless Blade Runner (1982). Much of the film, set in a heavily Asian-themed 2019 Los Angeles, is drenched in atmospheric rain. Though it is a Harrison Ford film, the most memorable lines of dialogue are from Rutger Hauer, playing the antagonist Batty. Towards the end of the film, Batty is atop the Ray Bradbury Theatre in pouring rain, and his delivery of these lines is almost Hamlet-like: “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... Time to die.”

If these lines don’t make much sense, I’m afraid I can’t help. You just have to watch the film, if you haven’t already. If you haven’t, it is sacrilege, but all is forgiven. Just do yourself a favour and watch it. Trouble is, when you go seeking out the film, you’ll come across several versions. Ever since the studio put out a theatrical release version that Scott wasn’t happy with, he kept worrying at the film, resulting in two notable versions—the 1992 Director’s Cut and the 2007 Final Cut. Given Scott’s track record with the film, expect another cut momentarily. I am no purist and a bit of a heretic, so I have no hesitation in saying that I prefer the original theatrical version with Ford’s smoky Humphrey Bogart-like voice over.

No mention of rain in cinema would be complete without a mention of Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Tempting as it is, we can’t discuss the rain sequence in the film without giving away crucial plot details. Now that it is mentioned, there is a generation of people out there for whom the film is amongst the all-time greats. Let me not be the one to inform them that they are wrong. To each his own; live and let live and let tolerance be the mantra.

Which takes me immediately to another film that released in 1994, Forrest Gump. As Tom Hanks and his fellow soldiers wade through waist-deep water, he says: “One day it started raining, and it didn’t quit for four months. We been through every kind of rain there is. Little bitty stingin’ rain... and big ol’ fat rain. Rain that flew in sideways. And sometimes rain even seemed to come straight up from underneath. Shoot, it even rained at night...”

That pretty much sums up Chennai and its environs in recent times.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 5:52:20 AM |

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