Total Recall - your interpretation? (spoiler alert!)

Patrick Mirza

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So what do you think? Was Quaid strapped in the Rekall chair the whole time, or was he really Houser undercover?
The one factor that clinches the fact that it is all part of his imagination is that "Melina"'s face is shown on the screen right before Quaid passes out. If she is a program, then so is everything else.
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Jim_K

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The one great thing about Total Recall is the ambiguous ending. Very open to interpretation & I believe either way you go with it is up to the viewer.
My personal view is Quaid is strapped to the Recall chair in the end living out his personal fantasies. This makes for a much richer & deeper sci-fi film to me.
IMHO - Without this ending (and the fabulous score) Total Recall would be just another over the top action/one-liner cheesefest. Not that there is anything wrong with that.

Jim
 

Michael Reuben

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The one factor that clinches the fact that it is all part of his imagination is that "Melina"'s face is shown on the screen right before Quaid passes out. If she is a program, then so is everything else.
But Quaid has already seen her face in his dream at the beginning of the film. At Rekall the same face appears on the monitor -- and not just from Quaid's point of view (which would keep everything ambiguous) but in other shots that appear to be "objective". I've never been sure what to make of that, other than as a sly joke by the filmmakers ("hey, this whole thing is a fabrication").
M.
 

Brett_B

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Personally, I think it was Houser undercover. The reason I think this is from the film's original teaser trailer (saw it dozens of times - film projectionist).
quote: Your mind.
It is the center of your life.
It is everything you hear.
Everything you see.
Everything you feel.
It is everything you are.
How would you know if someone stole your mind.
[/quote]
Just from the general debate suggests, "How would you know..."
Brett B.
[Edited last by Brett_B on September 23, 2001 at 10:47 AM]
 

george kaplan

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For all you know, right now you're strapped in a chair somewhere fantasizing this whole life.
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Jeremy Illingworth

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I was probably 16 the first time I saw it in the theater and I always thought that the events were 'real'. If they had kept is centered around Arnold and not had shots of things he couldn't have possibly seen (Ricter and Kohagen in an office on Mars) then it might go either way.
jeremy
 

stephen la

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it all take splace in recall.
bedt clue is one of the lab guys when loading his program..he reads the disk..or tape.. and says..."blue skies on Mars?, thats a new one"
and we all know what happens at the end.. most people didnt even catch this line.. which would in a way make it useless if it was just a coincidense..
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JustinT

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The one thing that makes me think that it is real (Howser is really undercover) is that Arnold kills Sharon Stone (his wife). If this was done in a dream, then Arnold's entire life would be altered, he wouldn't ever be able to return to his home, etc. Sharon Stone would still be alive in the real world, and if he ever ran into her again, reality would contradict his memory. I just don't see how a company like recall would be able to stay in business if their "vacations" changed peoples lives this much.
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He's strapped in his chair the whole time. Several things give it away, including:
(a) the 'blue skies on Mars' line
(b) the fact that the Arnie character is told that he is having an abnormal psychotic reaction (if you think about it, the ending is far from nice - when the Arnie character wakes up, he's going to be psychotic)
and
(c) the director is on record as saying that it's intended to be a dream, with events getting more and more improbable.
 

Michael Reuben

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(c) the director is on record as saying that it's intended to be a dream, with events getting more and more improbable.
In the documentary on the new DVD, Verhoeven says that it was deliberately left open ("even at the very end, there is no decision made"). He then goes on to add that casting Arnold in the lead tended to tip the balance toward reality, because of audience expectations. (The documentary doesn't have chapter stops, but the discussion starts at about 23:45.)

M.

[Edited last by Michael Reuben on September 23, 2001 at 02:38 PM]
 

Aaron Hose

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Funny thing... I saw TR for the first time in over 5 years, and the one thing I noticed that I never caught before was the "you're dreaming" scene, where The Rekall guy is trying to convince Quaid that he's dreaming, and therefore asks him to "drink a red pill." Hmmm... wasn't this scene 'somewhat' copied in a recent sci-fi film that also dealt with "virtual reality"... (The Matrix.)
Just thought I'd bring it up.

- A.
 

Mark Kalzer

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(b) the fact that the Arnie character is told that he is having an abnormal psychotic reaction (if you think about it, the ending is far from nice - when the Arnie character wakes up, he's going to be psychotic)
Hmmm, when you think about it, that would help explain the whole Quaid shooting wife element. While I haven't seen this movie in a while, (At last! An excuse to buy the new DVD!) I believe that his abnormal psychotic reaction would allow for his wife to turn out to be an traitor to Quaid, and be killed.
 

Jeremiah

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I will have to watch it again but I thought it was real because when that one guy came in to talk Arnold down from his trip and Arnold was going to kill him, he started to sweat which meant he was scared and knew Arnold could really kill him.
 

Dean DeMass

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he started to sweat which meant he was scared and knew Arnold could really kill him
This could also be part of Quaid's dream. I am at a 50/50 spot on whether it is a dream or reality, I am slowly leaning more towards the dream side of things. It gives the film a bit deeper meaning than if it was just reality.
-Dean-

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Michael, I believe you, but a few years ago I definitely saw a TV interview with Verhoeven in which he said that it was all meant to be a dream. Something else he said is that the action intentionally gets more and more preposterous (i.e. dream-like) as the movie goes on.
 

Michael Reuben

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Andrew, that's not inconsistent with the documentary or the commentary on the new disc. Everyone agrees that it was Verhoeven who focused on the dream interpretation and insisted that it be given equal weight in working out the story. When you listen to him on the commentary, it's clear that he prefers that interpretation, and I think he often feels the need to stress it because (as he says) when you have Arnold as the hero, everyone wants to believe that he prevailed for real.
Nevertheless, Verhoeven is also careful to say that he crafted the film to leave it open to interpretation. I guess that means everyone in this thread is right.

M.
 

Seth Paxton

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I still think this might be the most open ended films ever made. It was clever enough to leave evidence on both sides that seems utterly convincing and can't really be disputed except by saying "improbable". I try to figure it out every time I watch it, but I never feel convinced either way.
I've thought of it all, too. Blue skies vs. sweat, his nervous coworker before he goes.
Remember, he is picking out the woman. They don't go into the details completely, but it is at least somewhat implied that he directs the "dream girl's" looks to be like the one from his dreams at night involving Mars.
But really, I find it watchable from either viewpoint and think it is a very interesting AND entertaining film.
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I've always thought it was a dream, but please don't get me wrong from my previous posts - I do agree that watching it without any background information it is very skilfully ambiguous, and I can see a plausible case for it being 'real' as well. I wonder if it'd have been the same with Matthew Broderick [sp?] playing the role? Am I right in thinking that Arnie's role was originally written for him, or at least he was in contention for the role?
The one thing I find totally implausible is why anyone married to Sharon Stone would want to divorce themselves from reality.
 

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