Tannhauser Gate, Tannhäuser Gate, Tanhauser Gate, and other variants are versions of an unexplained fictional term originally used, once, in a monologue in the 1982 film Blade Runner, and since reused in other science fiction and popular music contexts. The film's use echoed the usual anglicized pronunciation of the German proper name Tannhäuser (i.e., ignoring the umlaut, and pronouncing the first a like the o in Ronald); the most accessible scripts for the film use the "Tanhauser" spelling.
There has been popular speculation that the choice of Tanhauser in the initial use was motivated by aspects of the historical poet knight Tannhäuser, the legends about him, and/or the Wagner opera Tannhäuser inspired by them.
Blade Runner Edit
In the Channel 4 documentary On the Edge of Blade Runner, Hauer, director Ridley Scott, and screenwriter David Peoples all assert that Hauer himself wrote the speech that includes this line, although the basics of the speech already existed in Peoples' various drafts. One such draft included the sentence
- I rode on the back decks of a blinker and watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate.
In his 2007 autobiography All Those Moments, Hauer confirms that he merely cut the original scripted speech by several lines, and only added the line, "All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."
In the 1998 film Soldier, the soldier character Sgt. Todd (played by Kurt Russell) is a veteran of the battle at Tannhäuser Gate. This fact is based on the text displayed momentarily on a computer screen near the beginning of the film. The screen displays a list of battles that the character has fought in, and the awards that he has earned in these battles. Tannhäuser Gate is also tattooed on Todd's arm, along with the other battles of which he is a veteran. Later on in the film, when Sandra notices the names tattooed on his arm and mentions it to Mace, it is explained by Mace that "Tannhäuser Gate was a battle."
The original script was to have the film actually depict the battle. However, this idea was eventually cut for budgetary concerns. The original script even gave a detailed description of the gate. It described it as "a huge wall of metal; an impregnable fortress bristling with futuristic weapons." Some of this scene was completed, and can be briefly viewed in the film's theatrical trailer.
References in popular culture Edit
Due to the influence of Blade Runner, a number of popular culture sources have made references to Tannhäuser Gate.
The Japanese animation series Gunbuster also makes several references to space travel through a Tannhäuser Gate. The show offers an explanation of the Tannhäuser Gate during one of the many "science lesson" scenes. There, the Gate is described as the point between two relatively close black hole event horizons. The massive gravitational pull would accelerate a traveler linearly, allowing them to approach the speed of light. The Heavy Gear series also makes use of the term to describe "a fault in the space-time continuum where two normally distant points of space touch one another." In the Heavy Gear universe, Tannhauser Gates can be "opened" by bombardment with a precisely modulated stream of anti-matter, and are used as a method for achieving faster-than-light travel (between specific star systems).
In the movie Drillbit Taylor, the title character (played by Owen Wilson) quotes the Tannhauser Gate line from Blade Runner when asked "What have you seen?" during his interview for the position of bodyguard to three bullied freshmen.
In K. W. Jeter's novel Noir, a Tannhäuser is a type of firearm used by the main character. Jeter was a friend of Philip K. Dick, and the author of Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human a sequel to Blade Runner.
- ↑ Blade Runner: Screenplay, Hampton Fancher & David Peoples, [typescript] February 23, 1981
- ↑ All Those Moments, Stories of Heroes, Villains, Replicants and Blade Runners, by Rutger Hauer with Patrick Quinlan, HarperEntertainment, 2007