Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have
ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember?
I don’t remember enough of the original version of this Philip K. Dick tale ” We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” to compare the two film versions (1990 vs. 2012), but sci-fi fans should take to director Len Wiseman’s version, crammed with marvelous futuresque cityscape scenes as good as those in Blade Runner. The dystopian story takes place on Earth, rather than involving a trip to Mars (the one detail I do remember from the first version). At the end of the 21st century most of our planet has become uninhabitable due to pollution from wars and bad environmental practices, with just the United Federation of Britain, and The Colony remaining. The latter consists of Australia and part of Asia, and is connected by a gigantic tunnel through the center of the planet known as The Fall, some kind of a gravity elevator.
Factory worker Douglas Quaid (Colin Farrell) has been living in relative happiness with his beautiful wife Lori (Kate Beckinsale), but when he visits the implanted memory firm called Rekall for diversion, things go terribly awry. He is lead to suspect that he was a spy, and Lori is now trying to kill him. In his struggles with the police he discovers that he has combat skills never suspected. The film becomes an exciting chase yarn filled with close calls and brutal fight scenes. Quaid at last learns that his real name was Carl Hauser, a highly trained spy working for the over-crowded United Federation of Britain’s Chancellor Vilos Cohaagen, who wants to take over the Colony so that he can kill off many of its inhabitants and transplant a portion of his people to it.
The film is fascinating because it involves memory and whether the ones we have are authentic or could be the result of manipulation by someone wanting to use us. This theme should be of interest to adherents of a faith that from Genesis to Revelation is filled with commands to “remember.” What if our memories are not experience based, but artificially introduced? How does the past influence us, contribute to the person that we are today? Is only the present, as one character says, the important factor in our lives? How are the present and the past related?
1. How are memories important in your life? How would you feel if you discovered that some of them are not real? Remember when President Reagan (perhaps even then in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease) talked about a scene from a movie as if it had been from his life?
2. How does the film show that the past does matter? You might check through an electronic Bible the words “remember” and “memory.” What role do they play in the story of our faith, of who and whose we are?
3. How could a government misuse Rekall? (And apparently does in this film.)
4. Discuss the conversation involving Quaid, a.k.a. Carl Hauser, and resistance leader Matthias: M: “Mr. Hauser, What is it you want?” Q/H: “I want to help you.” M: “That is not the only reason you are here.” Q/H: “I want to remember.” M: “Why” Q/H: “So I can be myself, be who I was.” M: “It each man’s quest to find out who he truly is but the answer to that lies in the present, not in the past. As it is for all of us. “ Q/H: “But the past tells us who we’ve become.
M: “ The past is a construct of the mind. It blinds us. It fools us into believing it. But the heart wants to live in the present. Look there. You’ll find your answer.”