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Published: 24-11-2019

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Spielberg’s Interpretation of Minority Report

The cinematic adaptation of Phillip K Dick’s thrilling science-fiction story Minority Report captures completely the futuristic noir really feel of the original. Nevertheless, the movie’s plotline, characters and central themes include significant dissimilarities. Its characters have different names, younger ages and greater free will. Its plot diverges, and outcomes in a substantially different, generally Spielbergian content ending. Far more importantly, its underlying theme undergoes a shift of concentrate. A single of Dick’s reoccurring themes, evident in numerous of his operates, is the dangers of future society. Likewise, the original Minority Report bears a veiled premonition of the dangers of social engineering and government tyranny. In contrast, Spielberg’s film includes only a skeleton of Dick’s words of warning. The simple plot of a single man pitted against fate remains. Nevertheless, the emphasis of this story morphs from government conflict to interpersonal conflict from power and greed on a grand scale to the lust for power on a individual level and from a single man’s helplessness against fate to 1 man’s victory over fate. Thus, the film adaptation dwells much more upon questions of totally free will. It expands upon the idea of self-determinism versus destiny, and pays much less attention to Dick’s deeper themes of ‘big government’ and ‘big brother’. Rather than critiquing the effect of government, police and technologies upon society as a whole via the eyes of an person, Spielberg’s Minority Report focuses far more upon the inner turmoil of decision within the individual – such as in Anderton and Burgess. Spielberg effectively captures the grim and gritty really feel of Dick’s novel, and creates additional dark characters of which Dick would be proud. He builds upon Dick’s favourite feelings of confusion, paranoia and thrill. He encapsulates Dick’s vision of the future. Nonetheless, the message of Minority Report becomes diluted in the transition from web page to screen. It is a financially and visually effective adaptation, but lacking in parity with Dick’s original intent.

1 of the most significant causes for the differences in Spielberg’s adaptation is the different audiences for which the two functions had been designed. A widespread feature of a lot of works of science fiction is their non-conformist and non-mainstream qualities, which a lot of of Dick’s works share. In converting this brief story into a Hollywood blockbuster, Spielberg necessarily changed numerous aspects in order to make the story ‘sellable’. A single of these elements is Minority Report’s characters. Ignoring Dick’s description of his middle-aged hero as “Bald and fat and old”, Anderton becomes the explosive young Tom Cruise. Rather than “smiling with forced amiability” at Witwer while “Fear touched him and he began to sweat”, Spielberg’s Anderton exchanges retorts with Witwer, such as “Why don’t you reduce the cute act, Danny boy”, culminating in a crowd-pleasing fight scene at a Lexus auto factory. Likewise, Witwer is transformed from a blond, blue-eyed and stalwart believer in Precrime to a a lot more intriguing, dark-haired ex-seminary student and wily Irish skeptic. Rather than reciting humble lines like “Maybe I – don’t have this job down as neatly as I imagined”, Spielberg has his Witwer confronting Anderton about his drug addiction, exhibiting “image scrubbing” capabilities that rival Anderton’s, and almost deducing Burgess’ murderous secrets. These a lot more virile and fiery action heroes, replacing Dick’s middle aged principal characters, adjust the dynamics of the story. Similarly, the “deformed and retarded” Donna becomes the intelligent, sympathetic and desirable Agatha. Rather than becoming “imprisoned in… special higher-backed chairs” and “babbling” incoherently, Agatha reveals the murder of her mother to Anderton, and utilizes her psychic capabilities to assist him evade capture. She also persuades him to not voluntarily shoot Leo Crowe despite this becoming his predetermined fate.

This emphasis upon the individual character’s gifts and abilities, and their capacity to pick their own fate, obscures the deeper implications of the Precrime technique. In the novel, Dick’s emphasis was upon an older man beset by a fate he could not alter, despite his efforts. He was intending to warn of the dangers of the future, and the susceptibility of mankind to its destiny. The purpose for these changes was to make Minority Report far more ‘sellable’. Even so, it could be argued that in this method Spielberg ‘sold out’ the accurate message of Dick’s operate. Spielberg’s emphasis upon totally free will and the potential to alter one’s destiny shifts the film’s concentrate away from Dick’s underlying themes, producing the film significantly less truthful to its inspiration, and as a result less successful as an adaptation.

Another substantial change created to Minority Report is its plot. In Dick’s original story, there had not too long ago been waged an “Anglo-Chinese War”, which left its mark on the American nation side. In contrast to Spielberg’s adaptation, the major antagonist of the story is Leopold Kaplan, a retired Army basic who was plotting to after once again take more than complete control of the government. In Anderton’s words: “After the war… Officers like Kaplan had been retired and discarded. Nobody likes that.” Attached to this plot is Dick’s apprehension at the excessive manage of government, and the future dangers linked with a strong government melded with contemporary technologies.

By replacing Kaplan with Burgess, Spielberg reduces the theme of Minority Report from social and political conflict to interpersonal conflict. No longer is the antagonist motivated by energy and the wish to handle society Burgess is simply motivated by private greed and ambition. By making the antagonist a greedy and ruthless individual, rather than the energy-hungry International Veterans’ League, Spielberg downplays Dick’s political themes.

Also, Spielberg introduces the loss of his son as Anderton’s motivation for joining Precrime and his determination to avert murder. This emphasis upon Anderton’s private pain dwarfs the broader social point of view Dick originally intended. Another plot alter was Spielberg’s restriction of Precrime to the prediction of murder. As Fletcher explains, “There’s nothing more destructive to the metaphysical fabric that binds us than the untimely murder of one human becoming by another”. When describing the predictions of the precogs, Anderton stated: “most… record petty crimes”. By focusing solely upon murder, Spielberg lessened Dick’s portrayal of an engineered society completely under the handle of the government. Since murder was the only crime foreseen, then police interference in society was seen as significantly less invasive than in Dick’s quick story, and for that reason significantly less concerning.

All these alterations resulted in higher concentrate upon the individual characters and their battles against fate, leaving hardly any mention of the greater political and social concerns evident in Dick’s perform. Spielberg neglected Dick’s forewarning of future government tyranny in favour of a story primarily concerned with person cost-free selection.

An additional of the significant variations between Dick and Spielberg is their endings. Spielberg has his Anderton end the film with the optimistic monologue: “In 2054, the six-year Precrime experiment was abandoned. All prisoners have been unconditionally pardoned and released… Agatha and the twins… reside out their lives in peace.” This is in stark contrast to Anderton’s closing words in the book: “Better hold your eyes open… It may come about to you at any time.” Spielberg’s characteristic satisfied ending, evident in most of his films, negates Dick’s original tone of warning. Rather than containing an undertone of urgency, foreboding or cynicism, Spielberg a lot more often meanders into humour and light-heartedness. This is exemplified when Anderton launches through a family’s dinner table during the jetpack chase scene, and in Rufus Riley’s line to Agatha: “Those thoughts about my cousin Elena, those have been just thoughts!” This humour is not evident at all evident in Dick’s original operate, just as Spielberg’s hopeful spin is incompatible with Dick’s original intent. Spielberg ends his film with Anderton escaping his fate, and Burgess proving the technique as flawed. As Anderton says to Burgess: “You still have a option, Lamar”. This option of fate is not evident in Dick’s operate. Neither does Anderton bring down the technique, in spite of proving its flaws. The precogs continue to be “imprisoned in their special higher-backed chairs”, and society continues to be controlled by means of technologies. This ending serves as a warning against modern day society getting overrun with technology, and engineered to dangerous perfection. Spielberg’s alterations distort Dick’s message, and outcome in a humanistic triumph rather than a solemn caution.

Despite these gaping differences in theme and message, the look and really feel of Minority Report is strikingly correct to Dick’s original story. True to the original, Spielberg’s film is dark, melancholy, and replete with paranoia and sombre colour schemes. In both original and adaptation, there are shadowy and mysterious characters like Fleming and the eyeless drug dealer. Spielberg even builds upon Dick’s style by introducing characters like the weird eye surgeon, his strange nurse, and the piano-playing prison guard, Gideon. In each original and adaptation, there are dark and forbidding settings like the “dark streets of New York” and the ominous underworld of ‘The Sprawl’. The quickly-paced and action-laced scenes shot by Spielberg reflect, amongst other folks, the frenetic automobile crash scene of Chapter IV.

Also, Anderton’s drug-obsession is reflective of Dick’s other works, and his continual questioning and confusion fits completely with Dick’s favourite question of “What is real?”. Spielberg’s grungy and gloomy scenes, such as the jetpack chase by way of The Sprawl, are suggestive of such descriptions in the book as “the rubbish-littered streets” and “the tumbled miles of low-cost hotels and broken-down tenements that had sprung up after the mass destruction of the war.” Spielberg also builds upon Dick’s ambiguous technologies, translating “data-receptors”, “computing mechanisms” and “bundles of wiring” into motion-operated computers, magnetically levitated public transport and iris-scanning gear – all in a way that channels Dick’s creativity. Just like the original, the mood of Spielberg’s adaptation is mainly sombre, focused upon worry, suspicion and thoughts of confusion – emotions which Spielberg interprets in his colour scheme. The lighting of Minority Report is desaturated and highly contrasted, reflecting the shadowy and war-ravaged world of Dick’s original story. Even though Spielberg removes the effects of war, he leaves a sense of subduedness, reflected in muted colours and grim contrasts. All these production elements bring Spielberg’s version closer to the inventive essence of Dick’s function. Nevertheless, they fail to bridge the gap among Dick’s concerns and Spielberg’s altered message.

Dick’s quick story was a poignant herald of the future, and its achievable dangers. He designed an entertaining story which avoided a content ending in favour of a timely social message. His vision of police control, lack of free of charge will and the possibility of tyranny is pertinent in today’s increasingly globalised and government-centred society. Spielberg’s adaptation loses this vital message in the transformation from book to screen. The individual actions of its characters turn into more essential than the deeper social implications. The important plot and character variations amongst the two versions stem from their becoming aimed at two contrasting audiences. Spielberg’s version was a thrilling action film that engaged the audience in a story of escape, intrigue, murder-mystery and ultimate triumph of the underdog, aided by the spectacular distraction of special effects and enigmatic colours. Dick’s original story was focused more upon deeper concerns of social engineering, the hazard of perfection and the dangers of more than-potent government. It was a grim and satirical warning of what the future might hold. Spielberg was effective in capturing the gritty and gloomy really feel of Minority Report, but Dick’s essential underlying message was lost in translation. Rather than warn, Spielberg’s version was developed to engage and entertain. In this respect, the modern adaptation of Minority Report failed.
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