Total Recall? How real are your memories?

This summer, the re-imagining of Total Recall will be released. Based upon, as so many science fiction movies have been, a book written by Philip K Dick, ‘We can remember it for you wholesale‘, the book features a construction worker, Douglas Quail, who, unable to afford an actual visit to Mars, goes to a company who can implant memories so that he will ‘remember’ visiting the big red planet. When the implant fails due to already altered memories, Quail finds himself being chased as well as discovering that things, including himself, are not what they seem.

In 1990, a movie named Total Recall, that was loosely based upon the book hit the theatres. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger at the height of his action movie career as a renamed Quaid, and featuring Sharon Stone as his very incredibly attractive wife, and Michael Ironside as the stereotypical villian. It was, in itself, a stereotypical summer movie that made more money than sense. There were numerous gaffs, errors and scientifically impossible scenarios. It didn’t stop it making over $261 million after only $65 million being spent on the budget. Much of the budget went towards what was then state of the art special effects. These effects have not stood up to the test of time, rather looking ametuer based on present technology.

This years version of the story removes Mars completly from the story, rather injecting more political twists than the 1990 movie. Starring Colin Farrell and Kate Beckinsale, the trailer shows a more dystopian earth than previously portrayed. State of the art special effects make it look as real as can be expected.

This brings about the question of how good are your memories? Up to last night when I re-watched, and exposed my wife for the first time to, the 1990 movie, my memories from 22 years ago were very different to what my eyes struggled to watch yesterday. While I remembered much of both the plot and cast, a lot of the effects were remembered in a much better light. I had forgotten how attractive Sharon Stone has been in 1990 but other than that, my memories were better than the reality of watching the movie again.

I don’t actually remember where I first watched the movie, I had a steady girlfriend at the time so had I somehow convinced her to join me watching this summer blockbuster? Were my initial opinions much different to what they are now? In 1990 did I mistaken believe that Mr Schwarzenegger was a better actor than he was?

While the movie was barely a two hour period in my life 22 years ago, how dependable could my memories be about other movies? Was Police Academy really good enough to watch 5 consectutive nights at the cinema in 1984? Did Good Morning Vietnam really put me in danger of wetting my pants from laughing so much? What else am I unable to accurately recall?

I remember about to go on an educational cruise at the age of 11, not knowing a single other person who was going, to the mediterranian. The cruise was cancelled as the Falkland War began and the cruise ship, the SS Canberra, was requisitioned as a hospital ship and troop carrier. I remember this quite clearly, but what I can’t seem to fathom is why I would want to go on a cruise by myself. It seems totally against my character, now and then. Did my parents trick me into signing up so they could finally have some peace and quiet? Did I envision a romantic cruise with girls yet unknown? Did I temporaily loose control of my facilities? Have I had a memory block inserted so I will never know?

Maybe I’ll never know, perhaps it is better than I don’t. Just don’t ask me what my memories are of anything because I am starting to believe my memories are not quite my own.

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