The total memory - Total Recall

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German title The total memory - Total Recall
Original title Total recall
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1990
length 113 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Paul Verhoeven
script Ronald Shusett ,
Dan O'Bannon ,
Gary Goldman
production Andrew G. Vajna ,
Mario Kassar ,
Buzz Feitshans
music Jerry Goldsmith
camera Jost Vacano
cut Frank J. Urioste

Total Recall is a science fiction film by Dutch director Paul Verhoeven from 1990 with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the lead role. The film is based on the short story Memories Wholesaled by Philip K. Dick . The film opened in German cinemas on July 26, 1990.


Construction worker Douglas Quaid led a satisfactory but uneventful life with his attractive wife Lori in 2084. Quaid dreams intensely of a different life on Mars . In these dreams, a brunette woman appears again and again with whom he seems to have a particularly intimate relationship.

Inspired by an advertisement he decides to use the services of Rekall Inc. to avail. REKALL promises its customers to implant artificial memories that cannot be distinguished from real ones. Although the customer is informed beforehand that the "experienced" is not real, the "memories" should trigger the same emotions as real experiences. Despite his work colleague Harry's warning of the danger of a lobotomy , Quaid wants to implant the memory of a vacation on Mars that he has always had an affinity for . The seller can also convince him to also choose the Ego Trip Package , where he can act as a secret agent who will ultimately save the planet.

In the middle of the implantation of this memory, however, problems arise, since Quaid apparently had already made a memory modification beforehand. Quaid is therefore confused from REKALL and dismissed with no memory of his visit. Suddenly, Quaid's life is nothing like it was before: Several men, led by Harry, attack him on the street and try to kill him. Quaid, in turn, kills his attackers without ever having knowingly completed combat training. He flees to his wife Lori, but she too suddenly wants to kill him. He can overwhelm her and learns from her that his previous life consists only of artificially implanted memories and is therefore a single lie.

When new pursuers appear, Quaid can barely escape on the metro. On his escape, he stays in a hotel where he is contacted by a stranger who identifies himself as a secret agent from Mars and passes him a suitcase with money, weapons, equipment, false IDs and a video message: A man like Quaid looks and introduces himself as Hauser, invites him to travel to Mars. Hauser worked as a secret agent on Mars until he finally changed sides out of love for a woman and since then has been working against the Mars governor Vilos Cohaagen, who rules the red planet like a dictator . When Hauser discovered some secrets in his work that could be dangerous to Cohaagen, and his duplicity was discovered, his memory was erased and he himself was put under surveillance on Earth with a false identity.

Quaid can finally shake off his captors and go to Mars in disguise. There he meets people who recognize him as Hauser. He joins a rebel group that is fighting against Cohaagen. On a hint from his alter ego Hauser, he meets the underground fighter Melina, who resembles the brunette woman from his dreams.

In the further course Quaid's "wife" Lori reappears and tries together with Dr. Edgemar, a doctor from REKALL , to convince him that everything is not real and that he is still in REKALL's laboratory on Earth. There was a complication, he was now in a coma and had to take a pill to wake up from this coma. Quaid almost falls for the two, but a drop of sweat on the doctor's forehead convinces him of the reality of the events, whereupon Quaid shoots them both.

Quaid and Melina flee to the mutant quarter, Sector G , where the rebels have their headquarters. With the help of the rebel leader Kuato, Quaid can remember the secret for which he is being persecuted. Shortly afterwards, however, Quaid and Melina are captured by Cohaagen's troops and Kuato is killed.

Cohaagen reveals to him that he is actually Hauser and is still acting on his behalf. Cohaagen had the memory of Douglas Quaid's fictional life implanted in his brain as a false memory along with an irresistible urge to Mars, in order to get him to travel to Mars and thus - involuntarily - unmask the Mars rebels. Cohaagen wants to prevent the resistance movement from discovering a secret: a gigantic cave was discovered during mine work that reaches down to the ice core of the planet. In this cave, around 500,000 years ago, aliens built a huge reactor that is able to melt part of the ice core and thus release oxygen. Should the existence of this machine become known and it should be activated to generate an atmosphere , Cohaagen's rule over the Martian population, which is bound to the control of the breath, would be ended.

Shortly before Hauser's previous identity can be reactivated in his brain, Quaid and Melina escape. Now Cohaagen declares a state of emergency and turns off the air supply to sector G in order to force Quaid to give up. After the final fight against Cohaagen and his henchmen, Quaid and Melina can activate the reactor and create an atmosphere on Mars. Cohaagen dies from the explosive decompression of his body, while Quaid and Melina are saved at the last minute by the newly produced air.

Finally, Quaid and Melina stand on a mountain and wonder whether what they experienced was real or just a dream. Then they kiss until the sun breaks through the clouds and outshines everything.


The film received mostly positive reviews. The film review portal Rotten Tomatoes gives 81% positive reviews for the film and it has a Metascore of 57 out of 100 at Metacritic .

"His trick technical achievements are the only originality of the epigonal and uninspired film in terms of content, which merely spreads the confused redemption story around false identities in order to unleash a rabid action machine."

“Paul Verhoeven (' RoboCop ') unleashes an effect spectacle with a philosophical depth - based on the story 'Memories en wholesale' by Philip K. Dick. Conclusion: very big effect cinema. "

“Very simple at first glance, the deliberately cheesy ending effectively raises the question of whether the whole thing was just a dream after all. [...] So the film allows for different readings and is recommended to be viewed again. During this, new details suddenly reveal themselves and alleged logic weaknesses (which are found in abundance) suddenly make sense in their function of questioning the status quo. [...] The cynical comedy elements cannot be overlooked. In addition to the depth of content, 'Total Recall' is also convincing as one of the weirdest and most macabre science fiction comedies of all time. "

James Berardinelli wrote on ReelViews that the film was " bloody yet chic ", praising the direction by Paul Verhoeven. Berardinelli also praised Arnold Schwarzenegger's screen presence.


The film was nominated for an Oscar in 1991 for Best Sound Effects and Best Sound . Eric Brevig and Rob Bottin received a Special Achievement Award for their visual effects at the 1991 Academy Awards .

The film won the 1991 Saturn Award in two categories, including Best SF Film , and was nominated for the Saturn Award in seven other categories - including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Ticotin, Paul Verhoeven and Jerry Goldsmith. It was also nominated for a BAFTA Award in 1991 for its special visual effects .

Jerry Goldsmith won the BMI Film Music Award in 1991 for his film music .


The film is based on the short story Memories Wholesaled by the American science fiction writer Philip K. Dick . The search for reality is far more important in the short story. Here it is not the Martians but the people on earth that are saved. The character of Cohaagen and most of the other film characters do not appear in Dick's short story.


The opening scenes (on earth) were shot in Mexico City in the metro stations Chabacano and Universidad (escape into the metro) and the Glorieta Insurgentes (taxi escape scene).

In Starship Troopers , Michael Ironside, Dean Norris and Marshall Bell played after Total Recall in another Verhoevens film.

Age ratings

Due to the drastic depiction of violence, the film in Germany was originally rated from 18 years of age and was also indexed on March 28, 1991 . In August 2011, the original version was removed from the list of media harmful to minors and released on August 19, 2011 by the FSK from the age of 16.

The original version of the film was even more bloody and violent and had to be shortened in order to even achieve R-Rated approval in the United States. This version has never been published and no publication is planned.

There is also a version shortened by about two minutes with an age rating of 16 and over, which is broadcast regularly on German free TV. In the meantime, however, the unabridged FSK-18 “Splatter” version is also being broadcast on television.

Sequels and remakes

For television, a series called Total Recall 2070 was produced from 1998 , which was loosely based on the film. She was deposed after a season.

In 2001, the 30-minute documentary Imagining Total Recall , directed by Jeffrey Schwarz , offers a look behind the scenes and exclusive interviews. This making-of was first published in 2001 on the American special limited edition DVD.

In the remake Total Recall , Colin Farrell plays the role of Douglas Quaid. The cinema release in Germany was on August 23, 2012.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b Certificate of Release for Total Recall - Total Recall . Voluntary self-regulation of the film industry , December 2012 (PDF; re-examination).
  2. Total Recall at Rotten Tomatoes (English)
  3. Total Recall at Metacritic (English)
  4. Total Recall. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed March 2, 2017 .Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  5. Total Recall in Cinema
  6. Total Recall in Film Starts
  7. James Berardinelli : Total Recall. A movie review by James Berardinelli .
  8. Awards for Total Recall in IMDb
  9. Total Recall gets unedited FSK 16 approval ( Retrieved October 15, 2013 .
  10. Indexing August 2011 ( Retrieved October 15, 2013 .
  11. Several New Total Recall Stills Remind You that There's No Mars. Retrieved April 30, 2015 .
  12. ^ Total Recall - Worldwide Release Dates. Retrieved July 24, 2012 .