“Total Recall” isn’t the only movie inspired by sci-fi master Philip K. Dick
Fans of 1990′s “Total Recall” must be experiencing a serious case of deja vu.
Like that film, the brand-new reboot follows an ordinary Joe (Arnold Schwarzenegger in the original, Colin Farrell in the remake) who takes a virtual vacation to Mars, only to discover he’s already visited the Red Planet as a secret government agent.
His job is a cover. His identity is a lie. And his wife (Sharon Stone or Kate Beckinsale, depending on the version) is actually an badass assassin. What’s a boy to do?
Both mind-bending movies draw their inspiration from a short story by influential science-fiction author Philip K. Dick. It’s called, appropriately enough, “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.”
Dick’s legacy is the focus of the Philip K. Dick Festival, Sept. 22 and 23 in San Francisco. Jonathan Lethem, author of “Motherless Brooklyn,” “The Fortress of Solitude” and “Chronic City,” heads the list of scheduled speakers this year.
Even if you’re not familiar with Dick’s work, you might recognize a few of the movies his stories and novels have inspired. Below is a partial list.
“Blade Runner” (1982)
“Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” That’s the question posed by Philip K Dick’s 1968 novel, the inspiration behind Ridley Scott’s gritty neo-noir classic. Harrison Ford stars as Rick Deckard, a retired cop in 2019 Los Angeles who makes his living hunting and killing rogue humanoid robots known as replicants — only to fall for a beautiful replicant named Rachel (Sean Young).
“Minority Report” (2002)
In the not-too-distant future, police officers rely on the abilities of Agatha (Samantha Morton) and her fellow precogs to stop crimes before they happen. When the precogs predict that police Captain John Anderton (Tom Cruise) will murder a man he’s never met, he sets out to prove that even oracles make mistakes. Loosely based on Dick’s short story “The Minority Report,” this twisty sci-fi thriller keeps audiences on their toes.
In exchange for a huge paycheck, computer engineer Michael Jennings (Ben Affleck) agrees to spend three years working on a top-secret project — so secret, in fact, his memory is wiped upon completion. Then he discovers that he’s forfeited his entire fee in exchange for an envelope of seemingly worthless junk. “Paycheck” is based on Dick’s short story of the same name.
“A Scanner Darkly” (2006)
Richard Linklater’s dreamy dystopian thriller might be the most faithful adaptation of Dick’s work yet. Undercover cop Bob Arctor (Keanu Reeves) — code-named “Fred” — lives a double life as an aimless low-life addicted to Substance D, the powerful hallucinatory drug that’s sweeping the nation. But as Bob gets closer to uncovering Substance D’s source, his situation threatens to spiral out of control. (Like Linklater’s “Waking Life,” “A Scanner Darkly” gets its unique look from animation layered over digital footage.)
“The Adjustment Bureau” (2011)
Based on Dick’s short story “Adjustment Team,” this romantic thriller deals with free will, determinism and fate. After a chance meeting with ballet dancer Elise Sellas (Emily Blunt), Brooklyn politician David Norris (Matt Damon) becomes determined to see her again — despite warnings from the Adjustment Bureau, a mysterious organization that controls world events, that doing so could ruin both their lives.
“Next” is one of Nicolas Cage’s most ridiculous movies yet, and that’s saying a lot. He stars as a Las Vegas stage magician who, much like the main character in Dick’s novelette “The Golden Man,” has the ability to see the future. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much the only element the two have in common.
“Total Recall” image courtesy of MovieWeb.com.
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