Storytelling in the sci-fi genre is a very tricky thing. Before you can present it to others, you have to work out every single detail. Unlike a couple of other genres that provide you with the option of allowing your story and characters to flow wherever they want, sci-fi needs you to set your boundaries before you start exploring the horizons. With time, filmmakers started to inculcate more science in their plots, which has further allowed them the possibilities in which they can convolute their stories. Legendary filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and Ridley Scott had already been testing the waters of a futuristic world with their imagination in the last century itself. Not to forget ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, Stanley Kubrick’s mind-boggling masterpiece. The point is that the plots of sci-fi movies have always been intricate, tricky and demanding of your evaluation. 1990’s ‘Total Recall’ is one of them.
If you have satisfied yourself by watching 2012’s Colin Farrell version of the film, then you are wrong to think you have grasped the idea of the original. Both of them are very different, and no debate on it, the original is far, far better. Set on Mars, it was a fresh concept back in 1990. The film had a plot whose effect was amplified by its ambiguous ending. It was full of charm and sarcasm, which made it a fun watch. Back then, you could consider it a very mild version of ‘Inception’, a lot milder but great, nonetheless. This is where you should stop if you haven’t watched the Arnold Schwarzenegger flick. If you have, let’s move forward!
Summary of the Plot
The story is set in a future which is not so far away from the present. Humans have colonized Mars and have actually moved beyond that, at least till Saturn. How far ahead, we are not told. There are all sorts of futuristic technologies now — X-ray machines in the subway, communication devices with cameras, a mask that can turn you into a 70-year-old woman, a cab driven by a robot! While some of it might feel familiar in real life, we are still decades away from other techs, like the nail paint changer! One of the perks of living in this world is the technology of Recall. It allows you to have memories of trips and vacations without you having been there. No hassle of traffic and ticket booking, no encounters with lousy staff and irritating strangers, no lost luggage, no stolen purses. Recall will give you the best memory that no real experience could give you. They’ll implant it in your brain with the exact specifications mentioned by you, and you’ll have a vacation that you had always dreamed of.
Douglas Quaid (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is a construction worker who has a beautiful woman (Sharon Stone) as his wife, but his mind is haunted by another. Every night, he dreams of being in Mars with another woman (Rachel Ticotin). So, one day, he decides to do something about it. And also, he’s a construction worker, in case you were wondering how he got this huge build. On the subway, he comes across an ad of Recall and an image of Mars compels him to get some memories of his own. In a short interview, he is given a run-through of everything his dream will constitute, right to the detail of the woman he will meet and the aliens he’ll defeat. As they begin the procedure of memory implants, Quaid begins to have violent reactions. The problem begins when it is revealed that he already has suppressed memories.
Welcome to Mars