The Matrix versus Total Recall |

The Matrix versus Total Recall

The Matrix and Innovation
The Matrix trilogy, due to its highly innovative storyline and groundbreaking special effects (i.e., bullet time), has spawned a ton of copycats (not to mention an entire line of ultra cool Matrix sunglasses!).  But was The Matrix really the original masterpiece that most people believe it to be?  That’s a question that’s always been up for debate, and the more and more I think about it, the more I realize that The Matrix really isn’t as original as I previously thought.

There are several examples of “borrowed themes” in The Matrix – for example, there was a Twilight Zone episode from the 1980’s that centered on a Matrix-like virtual reality.  Another example is the similarity between The Matrix and Dark City.  Yet another similarity is between Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Total Recall (released in 1990) and The Matrix (released in 1999), and that’s what I’ll be discussing for today’s blog post.  The video immediately below does a scene-by-scene comparison of the two movies, and it’s pretty enlightening.

As you watch the video, you’ll immediately notice the similarities.  For example, the protagonists in both movies received an “upload” of sorts – specifically, Neo’s Kung Fu abilities and Quaid’s virtual life.  Additionally, both protagonists were bugged – specifically, the robotic tracking bug that was inserted into Neo’s bellybutton, and the tracking device that was inserted into Quaid’s nose.  Yet another example is the “red pill / blue pill” scene from The Matrix and the scene from Total Recall where the doctor tells Quaid to take the red pill in order to return to his “normal” reality.

As you can clearly see, a lot of overlap exists between the two movies.  And this overlap is bound to get scrutinized more and more in the coming months due to the planned rerelease of Total Recall.  But the question still remains – did The Matrix actually rip off concepts from other movies, or is it nothing more than a coincidence?  What do you think?  Please drop a comment below and let the world know your thoughts!

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One Response to The Matrix versus Total Recall

  1. cbro says:

    I dont think it really matters that elements of total recall appear in the matrix. I think the watchkowski’s (however you spell it) were big fans of total recall, the red and blue pill thing is as i understand it is the matrix paying homage to total recall by making direct reference to it. You could also say that the agents in the matrix (and general styling of the film) are borrowed from ghost in the shell.

    In any case i think that the watchkowski’s knew they wanted to make a film concerning the main theme’s (reality vs dreamworld, which dates back to at least descartian philosophy) and took inspiration from films they were already fans of, i suspect that the seeds were probably planted by titles such as total recall, and the styling of the film obviously comes from their interests in comics.

    either way both films are classics and it is only a good thing that titles of the quality of total recall are inspiring future filmakers. the underlying themes however go back centuries, if not millenia.

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