[Movie] Total Recall (1990)

  • Directed by: Paul Verhoeven
  • Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Sharon Stone, Michael Ironside
  • Based on: the short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (1966) by Philip K. Dick

Melina: I can’t believe it, it’s like a dream. What’s wrong?
Douglas Quaid: I just had a terrible thought… what if this is a dream?
Melina: Well, then, kiss me quick before you wake up!

last lines from the movie

Total Recall” is an SF action film, which is loosely based on Philip K. Dick’s short story. The movie received considerably positive responses from critics and viewers when it was released, let alone it was one of the most expensively-made films at that time. Even though the movie’s box office success worldwide, you might find it quite disturbing if you watch it now – unnecessary violence, sexually exploitative descriptions of female characters, and out-of-context jokes.

If you have ever read Philip K. Dick’s story, the film is quite different from the original plot. The director added a lot of actions to make the film a Hollywood blockbuster. Actually, the movie seems like a typical Western, only on Mars.

Memory manipulation is the main tool that makes the story move. The film suggests viewers think over what is happening is really happening. The approach to divide reality and a dream seems crude but quite effective. It is interesting to compare how later movies – Matrix and Inception – handle similar themes.

total recall
: the faculty of remembering with completer clarity and in complete detail

from Merriam-Webster

By emphasizing actions, it is unclear what the “(Total) Recall” means. I recommend you read the original story. Discovering your deep secrets that were hidden for a long time – it is a fascinating but maybe the scariest idea. Do you really want to see deep inside you?

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