Total Recall a Dyostopian Narrative

Topics: Dystopia, Utopia, Utopian and dystopian fiction Pages: 6 (2543 words) Published: July 22, 2010
C. Keith

“Total Recall the Ultimate Dystopian Narrative”

Total Recall is a movie based on Philip K. Dick’s story, “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale,” Total Recall is a 1990 dystopian movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, directed by Paul Verhoeven. In order to truly discuss dystopia, we must first define utopia and then in turn dystopia. A utopia is a place, or condition that is ideally perfect in all respects. This applies to its laws, customs, practices, and living conditions. A dystopia by contrast is an anti-utopia, a place in which oppressive societal control and the illusion of a perfect society is maintained through bureaucratic, technological, moral, or totalitarian control. Dystopias, tend to exaggerate worst-case scenarios, make a criticism about a current trend, societal norm, or political system. According to Merriman-Webster’s Online dictionary, Dystopian by defininition is “ an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives “. Wikipedia defines dystopia, as “is the vision of a society that is the opposite of utopia. A dystopian society is one in which the conditions of life are miserable, characterized by human misery, poverty, oppression, violence, disease, and/or pollution”. Both states are fictional states. Dystopian literature tends to be futuristic and imagined. Like utopian writing, there is often a prescriptive element—Dystopian fictions almost always offer some kind of warning (often implicit) of what will happen should present trends continue. In this essay I will attempt to prove that Total Recall is the ultimate dystopian narrative by using its definition, and demonstrating by example it’s effects on it’s societal statement, that we all should make extreme efforts to save the earth and it’s resources. Total Recall stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as an everyday man, Douglas Quaid, who craves something different in his life. He keeps on having realistic dreams about Mars and decides to visit Mars virtually. He goes to “the Recall Corporation” to get some memories manufactured and installed - ones that are exciting, and speak of Mars, espionage and slutty, athletic women. Unfortunately, things go very wrong. In the process of getting his new memories installed, he wakes up to find that things are not as they seem – in fact he does not know if he woke up at all, or if whether he is still experiencing a memory impact at the Total Recall Corporation. Quaid’s visit to the Recall Corporation reveals that he already had a implanted memory chip. The memory chip, implanted at the direction of his former agency boss Cohagen. Cohagen wanted to erase his memory and make him forget his life as an agent on Mars. In this futuristic sci-fi setting, Schwarzenegger plays a construction worker who discovers that his entire memory of the past derives from a memory chip implanted in his brain, Schwarzenegger learns that he is actually a secret government agent who had switched sides and become a threat to the government, or so he thought. In a tricky twist Douglas Quaid, Schwarzenegger’s character watched a video of himself proving that his whole switch to the other side was possible plotted by him and his former government boss Cohaegan. Using this type of flip flop is a trait in most dystopian movies in this essay I will point out many traits and characteristics of Total Recall that will prove the movie to be a dystopian narrative.

In Total Recall, the question becomes, is everything real or just a dream. Those of us who had an opportunity to watch the elections on election night, had the privilege of seeing real-time use of a hologram on CNN. During the election telecast, the host used a hologram to bring” Will I Am”, (the lead singer of the popular Black-eyed peas, band) into the studio, when the nation had just seen him in Chicago at Grant Park. This 1990 movie made 18 years ago gave us a first look at many of the technologies we use today....
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