Ian Keldon wrote:
Agreed. TR (the original) is a classic sci-fi movie.
The one thing I never got was the "is it real or Rekall" question. It's obvious from the structure of the film (first one) that the events are real as there are scenes that take place outside Quaid's perception.
That, plus Quaid dreams of Melina before going to Rekall. But that doesn't take away from the delicious "What If?"-ness of it all.
"Things happening outside of the story teller's perception" is pretty common in these types of movies though. It can either be interpreted as information the story teller (or dreamer in this case) learned later and integrated into a better narrative in his mind, or simply "movie hand waving" where we accept that at times the "camera" leaves the perspective of the dreamer/story teller. We
learn something the dreamer/story teller doesn't know. (For example, there's more than a few scenes that happen in "Titanic" that Rose wasn't around for or wouldn't know about yet the narrative of that movie is as if it's the story she's telling those in the "present." We can simply assume in these moments we've left her story and are exploring the period on our own.)
I think that in the original "Total Recall" the events of the movie were part of the dream/implant. Including the ruse to get him to abort the dream half-way through. That Quaid dreamed Melina before going to Rekall is irrelevant. To quote the Rekall spokesman who tries to talk him out of the dream, "She's real because he dreamed her?" The woman he designed at Rekall was obviously based on this woman he had recurring dreams about.
The biggest clue, for me, that the events of the original movie is a dream is the tech saying, "That's new. Blue sky on Mars!" when setting up the Rekall machine. That's a pretty big clue that things are a dream otherwise it'd be one hell of a coincidence that it's what ended up happening. Everything that happens to Quaid during the movie is exactly
what he ordered and what is described to him at Rekall. The "flash to white" at the end also is a strong indicator to me. (Suggesting that Quaid was waking up and getting his vision blown out by the light in the recovery room.)
It's my opinion it's a dream but it's an open-ended movie that's meant to be ambiguous. That's one of the problems I have with this movie, it doesn't play with that idea too much even at the end when supposedly the dream will either end or "real life" will continue.
(In the commentary for the Total Recall (1990) DVD the director Verhoeven says that "[if it is a dream] it all starts the moment Quaid gets the injection -including the scene where we go back to the salesman's office trying to upsell a client. Where, again, this is simply the audience being able to experience things in the dream outside the perspective of the dreamer.
The Cinema Snob
does a Midnight Screening of the movie.