In the Mars version of Total Recall, it was a doctor. In the 2012 version, his friend, Harry. How did he know to not take the pill / shoot his friend rather than Melina?


In the 1990 version:

  • Dr. Edgemar claims it doesn't matter to him if he gets shot, because he isn't actually real. But when Quaid notices a drop of sweat running down Dr. Edgemar's face he takes it as a tell-tale sign that Dr. Edgemar is lying (why would he be afraid to die if he is not real?)


In the 2012 version:

  • Harry tells Quaid that Melina (and everything else) is not real. But when Quaid notices that Melina sheds a tear because she is afraid of losing the man she loves, he decides that she must be real.

    Wether or not that makes sense is related to this question.


  • 2
    In the original movie, the man's drop of sweat indicated the man was not a computer-generated hallucination but a real human who was scared because he was in real danger. Similarly, in the remake, the woman's tear indicated she was experiencing genuine emotion and therefore was a real person. I'll edit this into the answer now...
    – Shiz Z.
    Nov 20 '12 at 17:48
  • @ShaneFinneran - Thanks for trying to help me out.
    – Oliver_C
    Nov 20 '12 at 18:09
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    In the 1990 version, I would stress that this does NOT resolve the question "was it real, or a dream?" which is fundamental to the movie. Dr. Edgemar's explanation could be 100% accurate; the sweat could be either a measure of Quaid's subconscious control over the dream creating cues that his subconscious wants, or Dr. Edgemar could easily be stressed about being the final hope to save the life of a patient. The sweat resolves the question to Quaid's satisfaction, but not an outside observer. I've not seen the 2012 version, but I expect the same applies.
    – Scivitri
    Nov 21 '12 at 1:26

The correct answer is that Quaid gets it wrong. Dr Edgemar really is trying to save him and the whole secret agent saving Mars thing is the memory implant he has purchased transformed into an apparent reality by the schizoid embolism discussed in the early sequences of the film. How do we know?

In the film we know because we see the sequence in which Quaid describes his fantasy. The girl that latter features is constructed on a screen by the computer putting together the memory implant. The telling thing is that the girl on the screen is exactly the same as the one in the latter "events", but the description he gives is only a general one so the computer version would not be identical to the girl in the latter sequences were the latter girl not the computer generated false one - meaning hwe is mistaking the hallucination from the embolism for reality and damning himself when he rejects Dr Edgemar who really is an intrusion from outside the hallucination.

As for in the book, well Dick's work is much more subtle and gives less definitive answers than the film but it was Phil's view that we are in essential the same situation as Quaid (Blake's Lost Travellers Dreaming under the hill). Valis/Jehova is trying to get us to take the "pill" but we have to see through the deception of appearances (as per true scepticism) before we can become open enough to all the divine invasion of Christ and awaken from the dream of the dominion of matter (the hill) to idealism - the recognition that we4 are spirit and spirit constructs matter.

  • 1
    Welcome to Movies & TV. While your elaborations might be interesting, they don't seem to address the actual question so much and would be better fit as a comment.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Mar 16 '14 at 12:13
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    Did I mosread the question? It seemed to me to be asking how Quaid knew that Dr Edgeman was a fake, and to me the answer is that he does not know he is mislead by his hallucinatory state. I assume he saw the sweat as a sign of stress and hence deceat, when in fact it could either be pure fantasy or concern that the company he worked for was in trouble with yet another embolism - mentioned as a repreat problem at the start of the film. But whether I was replying or commenting seems academic to me, either way the comments were as far as I coan see germain to the question.
    – Mike
    Mar 17 '14 at 11:10
  • Well, one could say that the fact of it being all fake makes the question entirely moot, but to Quaid it wasn't moot. There still has to be a reason why he reacted this way. No matter if everything turns out to be a dream or not, Quaid certainly thought it was reality and he must have had some reason to believe so. " I assume he saw the sweat as a sign of stress and hence deceat" - Exactly, not much more to it at all. You give an interesting answer, just not for the question asked here and this not "academic", but how this site works.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Mar 17 '14 at 11:37

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