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by Heinrich Domingo

In times when the public needs intelligent media, films are sure to supplement. Total Recall remains to be one of the few films who can claim to suffice this need.


A remake of the same-titled film in 1990 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Total Recall continues to become a spectacle among movie aficionados who want to consume the best of science fiction movies with themes of political and philosophical paradigms. The ability of the first film to attract a wide international market has greatly challenged the production of the movie to top its predecessor. Nonetheless, this 2012 film has once again epitomized the marriage of art and science in a modern-day medium.

Total Recall showcased an exemplary integration of philosophy, psychology, politics and economics within one hour and fifty minutes. It has generally given way to the celebration of contemporary art that places in the limelight the concepts of postmodernity, metaphysics and power relations. The storyline has revolved around the journey of the main character Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) and his realizations about his identity, memory and value. With Quaid’s confusion of his past, the movie tackled on dealing with the past as well as knowing one’s future.

As one of the major characters, Matthias (Bill Nighy) stated, “It is each man’s quest to find out who he truly is, but the answer to that lies in the present not in the past.” Hence, the movie delivered a thorough discussion on self-definition. Moreover, surrealism became the mood of the entire movie. The ending haunts the viewers with the dilemma whether Quaid was under the repose of a dream or erraticism of reality.

This remake exited from its confined science fiction original and embraced the power play existence of the future societies. With the presented binary opposition between the United Federation of Britain (first world countries) and The Colony (third world countries), topics on colonial discourse such as imperialism, globalization/capitalism and resistance were greatly employed. Contentious subjects on terrorism, was even included in the story line, which consequently questions the powers of politically dominant nations. The topics on media and militarism were intricately weaved into the futuristic style of the movie.

Despite the absence of the element of uniqueness that mainstream audience wants, this film satisfies the viewers’ craving for mind-boggling ideas. And at the exit doors of cinemas, are the satisfied viewers transformed from being mere audiences into thinking individuals.

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