Two days ago, a friend and I discussed, via email, our mutual love for the film Total Recall, which stars Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yesterday morning I noticed a van with the company name "Recall." Late last night while I was channel hopping I noticed "Total Recall" was on so I ended up watching it again.
The film, set in the 2084, is about a man called Douglas Quaid who has been experiencing vivid dreams where he's exploring life on Mars with a woman he's in love with. The dream feels more real to him than his current life on Earth where he's working as a builder, and married to another woman he doesn't particularly care about. The question the film is raising is this: is Quaid's recurring dream of Mars only a dream; or is his dream real and his life on Earth a dream?
The dream of Mars makes Quaid want to experience that life so one day he visits a company called "Rekall" which offers their clients memories of a place without the need to actually visit the place. Quaid chooses to experience himself as a secret agent on Mars, but before the memory has been implanted he starts recalling vivid memories of himself as an agent on Mars, which suggests he's actually had the experience for real.
Soon Quaid receives a video instructing him to go to Mars to find the answers. On Mars, Quaid discovers that the city is being ruled by a man called Cohaagen who has a monopoly on air. Because of the poor air quality, a lot of the people who live in slums have been affected by the radiation and have become mutants. Quaid also meets the woman in his Mars dreams who is called Melina and has strong feelings for him. She tells him that his real name is Hauser. Hauser used to work with Cohaagen but switched sides and joined the underground resistance who are fighting for air, then he mysteriously disappeared. Quaid tells her he doesn't remember his life as Hauser and needs help remembering. Melina doesn't trust him because she believes he's still in cahoots with Cohaagen. She's soon convinced that he's no longer the man Hauser used to be and they rekindle their love. Melina introduces Quaid to the resistance leader, Kuato, who helps Quaid remember his life as Hauser.
The story unfolds that Hauser is actually a very good friend of Cohaagen. Hauser offered to have his memories temporarily erased so that he can be Quaid. The woman playing the role of Quaid's wife is actually married to someone else. The plan is that Quaid will be inspired to go to Mars where he will meet Melina who will introduce him to Kuato and the other rebels, whom Cohaagen wants eliminated. Once Kuato and all the other rebels have been eliminated, Hauser will then reclaim his memories and his body, and return to his old wealthy lifestyle on Earth.
Quaid and Melina are soon strapped on to a mind altering machines. Quaid's memories are about to be replaced by Hauser's' and Melina is about to be reprogrammed so she can be subservient. Quaid manages to free himself from the machine and he and Melina escape.
Quaid goes in search of the alien technology that Cohaagen has been hiding, which can provide free air for all, but Cohaagen tries to destroy the technology. Quaid stops him, activates the machine, and the technology transforms Mars' atmosphere into a breathable one. At the end of the film, Quaid wonders whether his experience on Mars is real or a dream. Just as he and Melina kiss everything dissolves into white light.
For me, Quaid and Hauser represents the choices we have: to express ourselves as who we are as unlimited beings; or to be bound by rules and regulations. Most people seem to want to enjoy the freedom to live their dreams as Quaid and yet their beliefs end up sabotaging their dreams and they become Hauser. In the film Quaid chooses to live as Quaid and gets to live with the woman of his dreams.
I believe the question Quaid asks Melina at the end of the movie, about whether they're still dreaming, is a valid one. Quaid the resistance fighter in love with Melina, and Hauser the friend of the dictator are both dreams. The white light at the end represents the ONE who is actually having all the experiences.
I am Light.
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