Total Recall

Total Recall is an American science fiction film released on June 1, 1990 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, directed by Paul Verhoeven and written by Ronald Shusett & Dan O'Bannon and Gary Goldman. It won a Special Achievement Academy Award for its visual effects.

Schwarzenegger plays Douglas Quaid, a construction worker in the mid-21st century living an ordinary life with his wife Lori (Sharon Stone). Quaid is plagued with an obsession about Mars. He purchases a virtual vacation on Mars to be implanted in his mind by the Rekall company. The procedure apparently goes wrong and uncovers some of his suppressed past life. He finds himself pursued by killers led by Richter (Michael Ironside) and is forced to actually go to Mars where he joins the struggle against Mars Administrator Vilos Cohaagen (Ronny Cox). However, the "real" events on Mars are uncannily like the events described in the implanted vacation that he purchased, so that even at the conclusion the viewer is not entirely sure what the reality of the situation is.

Ronald Shusett, Dan O'Bannon and Jon Povill wrote the screenplay with inspiration by the Philip K. Dick short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.


Real or Not?

The film explores the question of whether what is happening to the hero is reality or is a delusion being fed to his brain. A similar theme is found in the movies The Matrix, eXistenZ, and Vanilla Sky. With a nod to Alice in Wonderland, both this movie and The Matrix have a sequence where the hero is offered a red pill that will symbolically alter their perception of reality from the new one they are experiencing to the one they were used to.

On the special edition DVD commentary by directer Paul Verhoeven, he states that using Arnold as opposed to others who had been considered (Richard Dreyfuss, Patrick Swayze) leans more towards the film being real, as audiences would not want Arnold in an action film that turned out to only be a dream. An interview with Schwarzenegger suggests that he asked for Carolco to purchase the rights to this story so he could play the lead. The reality of the film is still hotly debated by fans as to whether Arnold's character actually was a secret agent who saved Mars, or whether he is a lobotomized victim of technology gone haywire.

In an interview with Starlog magazine, Schwarzenegger stressed the challenge of acting in the film, "Because you're not coming in with the same character that you're going out with. Hauser's an interesting character, but Quaid's just this big program..." This again suggests that the events on Mars were real, though the debate will still rage on.

Critical Opinions

Many critics consider the film excessively violent, and science fiction critics point to its numerous scientific errors as evidence of Hollywood's ignorance of the laws of physics. However, it is considered a classic science fiction film.

Other Media

The movie was novelized by Piers Anthony, noted for his Xanth fantasy series. The novel and movie correspond very well, although Anthony was criticized for the ending of his book which removed the ambiguity as to whether the events of Total Recall are real or a dream. ISBN 0380708744

A video game adaptation was also made based on the film.

2003 California Gubernatorial Recall Election

In an example of life imitating art, or at least its title, Arnold Schwarzenegger became Governor of California after the "total recall" of Gray Davis. See 2003 California recall.

In fact, Arnold had his campaign buses labelled as, The Running Man, Total Recall, and for the press, Predators 1 through 3. All of them were based on the titles of films in which Schwarzenegger has starred.

Television spin-off

In 1999 there was a television series named Total Recall 2070. However, the show had far more similarities with the Blade Runner movie than with its own namesake.

Products Sharing Same Name

Total Recall is also a name of a popular shareware learning application developed by Sharp Software in the late 1980s.

External links

fr:Total Recall ja:トータル・リコール pl:Pamięć absolutna sv:Total Recall


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