With Total Recall turning 30 years old this year and getting a gorgeous new 4K Blu-ray release, The Companion, an innovative new sci-fi subscription app and website, has partnered with Studiocanal UK to curate a special mini-season of exclusive content devoted to the first great sci-fi blockbuster of the Nineties.
Based on Philip K. Dick’s 1966 short-story ‘We Can Remember It For You Wholesale’, the film that became Total Recall was first optioned in the Seventies but was beaten to the big screen by 1982’s Blade Runner, based on his 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Sadly, the visionary writer passed away before he was able to see his ideas enter the movie mainstream and we have no idea what he would have thought of them… until now.
The Companion has announced it is delighted to be able to present a review of 1990’s Total Recall by his fifth wife – and the uncredited co-writer of A Scanner Darkly – who gives us perhaps the definitive take on the movie. A novelist in her own right, Tessa B. Dick reveals her late husband would have thought of the violence, the sex, the casting of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone, and how much of his wit, wisdom, and empathy she sees in Paul Verhoeven’s blockbuster:
“On one level, this tale reflects the film The Manchurian Candidate (1962) as a source of inspiration, while it also brings to mind Lee Harvey Oswald’s firm denial of having shot President Kennedy or anyone else on that November day in 1963,” she says. “In private conversations, Dick speculated that perhaps Oswald’s memory was erased, or perhaps he was subjected to mind control, as was the fictional hero of The Manchurian Candidate.”
Although the author lived long enough to see a rough cut of Blade Runner, the first major adaptation of his work, it’s often speculated what Dick might have thought about the many films based on his works. These include Minority Report, Screamers, The Adjustment Bureau, Paycheck, A Scanner Darkly, the original sequel Blade Runner 2049, and the recent series Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams and The Man in the High Castle.
“Phil would have enjoyed this film,” she continues. “While Total Recall has little to do with the story that he wrote, it does explore themes running through all of his stories and novels […] Number one, in his mind was empathy, the single quality that, more than any other, makes us human.”