Total Recall: Memory & Mind Alteration – The Philip K. Dick Legacy

Posted 10 years ago by myetvmedia

‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” is a somewhat obscure short story by the ever-present and brilliant science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. In 1990 filmmaker Paul Verhoeven’s screen adaptation entitled ‘Total Recall’ became a blockbuster hit, grossing over $261 million at the box office to date. The Sci-fi set in 2084, starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as protagonist Quaid, a construction worker in who dreams of Mars and a mysterious woman there. As in Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’ based on Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’, the protagonist has a fragile grip on ‘what is real?’ An alternate memory experience is implanted in the Quaid character at his request, to realize a fantasy, but this only uncorks a deeper identity crisis and sets the character on a mission to discover the truth amidst corporate conspiracy, revolution, and if that isn’t enough, marital delusion.

Courtesy of: TriStar Pictures

Dick’s metaphysical point of view is challenging since it not only questions ‘What is real?’ but also ‘What is human?’ InBlade Runner, the androids have souls while the human’s seem soul-less. Total Recall’s mutants aspire to a noble cause while the rest are either caught-in or serving a greedy corporate conspiracy.  While the narrative mechanisms will vary from story to story, from adaptation to adaptation, Dick’s thrust of memory and mind alteration is consistent. Truth is found but only through undermining what is perceived to be real.

Courtesy of: Warner Bros.

Anticipation for the Len Wiseman’s ‘Total Recall’ reboot is heightened not only by Verhoeven’s precedent but also more recent films like ‘Inception’‘The Matrix’ trilogy and another adaptation of Dick’s work, ‘Minority Report’. Do we dare live our dreams? Will an altered state bring us closer to who we really are and what is true?

Courtesy of: 20th Century Fox

Will Len Wiseman’s reboot live up to what is now Dick’s growing legacy as a writer and source for great filmmaking?  Look for myETVmedia’s review of the Total Recall reboot, next.

Courtesy of: Columbia Pictures

Total Recall is the winner of 1 Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Visual Effects2 Saturn Awards and multiple nominations.

-Alfredo Romano


Total Recall: Memory & Mind Alteration – The Philip K. Dick Legacy


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