Total Recall -as a model for understanding memory

Total recall – the ability to remember with clarity every detail of the events of one’s life or of a particular event, object, or experience.

Developing on from my research, I have been interested in the perplexing and conflicting ideas surrounding ‘total recall’ the idea of being able to find complete clarity within a memory. Within the film of the same title a man named Douglas quade decides to visit ‘rekall’ a company that provides memory implants of vacations, Quaid opts for a memory trip to Mars as a Secret Agent fantasy. However, during the procedure, before the memory is implanted, something goes wrong, and Quaid starts revealing previously suppressed memories of actually being a Secret Agent. The company sedates him, wipes his memory of the visit, and the film then continues with Douglas Quaid following a secret agent mission upon mars. Although scientific fantasy, the contemporary ideas surrounding total recall are incredibly interesting, and the movie is a fascinating contemporary model to question true memory, past experiences, and total recall. Because as a viewer, how do we know that ‘Douglas Quaid’ ever left the rekall centre, if it is indeed a secret agent fantasy he is undergoing ?

fundamentally, I find the ideas surrounding total recall perplexing due to the fact as individuals I believe we cannot find total clarity within a memory, we fill in the gaps, therefore we cannot be certain that any memory we have is necessarily true, thus within the film why we are left guessing what is real and what is fake. Our memories tend to be a mishmash of things, memory is formless matter, things that we tend to perceive as sentimental or nostalgic, as children it could be something we picked up or learnt, through our sensibilities or simply because we enjoyed or detested that moment. The older we are the more memories we gather, the more things that become sentimental to us and so the more gaps we have to fill etc. our memories are so expansive and even a moment that may have occurred yesterday could be very different from the actual sequences that happened.


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