Philip K Dick
Based on Story - The Minority Report
Story Version Notes
The original story, "The Minority Report", was about 40 pages long, so a goodly length for a short story. It starts with Anderton, who feels he is getting "bald and fat and old". He smokes a pipe and worries that Ed Witwer - young, arrogant - is a threat to his job. The three precogs are "babbling idiots" with wasted bodies and enlarged heads. They babble about ALL crimes from thefts to tax evasions. The last actual murder was 5 years ago. They've been doing this for 30 years.
Anderton's wife, Lisa, also works in precrime. Anderton finds the card saying he will murder an unknown man - Leopold Kaplan - within the week. Anderton immediately thinks it's a fake plant to get him out of the way, so Witwer can take control. He has 24 hours to find out what is going on before the Army gets through its duplicate set of cards and finds the information. Unfortunately, the Army processes the card immediately and Leopold - who works for them, has Anderton dragged in for questioning. At this point Witwer has already seized control and Leopold intends to turn Anderton over to the police to make sure Anderton can't actually kill Leopold as predicted.
Anderton gives in to the inevitable and is being brought back to justice and a detention camp. Suddenly he is set free by an unknown person, Fleming, who says Lisa is behind the frame-up. Anderton is given money and a card that reads "The existence of a majority logically implies a corresponding minority." He realizes he has to see what the third precog had thought of the murder. His friend lets him into the precog room and says it's the 'middle one' that gave the minority report. It turns out Jerry had reported on THIS situation - that Anderton had known of the report and decided NOT to murder Leopold. But because the other two precogs had reported on the initial situation (Anderton didn't know of the report, Anderton murders Leopold), the other two got the majority vote.
Lisa appears and tells Anderton to escape with her. Lisa points out to Anderton that maybe ALL of the potential murderers would have changed their mind if just told of the possibility, instead of having to lock them all up. Lisa also points out that Anderton is damaging the entire system - the one he himself believes so strongly in - by running. He is damaging it's credibility, and he should turn himself in. Fleming leaps in and Anderton realizes that Fleming was working wht Leopold to keep Anderton away from the police.
They take a closer look at the 3 precog tapes. Yes, Jerry's tape said that Anderton did NOT kill Leopold, because Anderton had seen the card accusing him of the murder. Donna's tape was the "initial timeline" - that Anderton, going along without any knowledge, had been threatened by Leopold and had killed him. But there was a third tape. It also said Anderton would kill Leopold - but in this case, Anderton would kill him BECAUSE he had read the minority report information. So in essence this is a THIRD timeline. Anderton does indeed kill Leopold to prevent him from shutting down the precrime system and the cops let him go to a remote planet in "exile".
Lisa's Reaction to the Story Version
This is definitely a story for a person who loves creative thinking!! It can easily get confusing for someone who doesn't have the ability to track multiple timelines in their head. The whole point is that Anderton's *knowledge* of what the future holds alters his decision of what to do, and therefore alters the future. There's a bunch of sideline story thrown in too - Anderton's worry about being obsolete, the army's worry about being obsolete, and those paranoias affecting their ability to make decisions.
I personally didn't like Lisa's coldness, her instant dismissal of her husband in the first place and then her pulling a gun to drag him back into justice later. She could have been SOMEWHAT more of a loving wife here.
Also, Anderton's assertion at the end is wrong. Anderton claims that only the police commissioner could ever be in this situation because only he would know what a card said, to then change how he acted based on it. But actually there are 2 cards generated for each event - one goes to the police and one goes to the army. And anyone who read the card could affect the future - whether the card was about them personally or about a friend or loved one. The fact that knowledge of that information could affect how the future went is pretty important. Why lock someone up in detention for life as a penalty? Why not instead have that person go to mandatory schooling to get them through whatever anger management issue had them thinking about the crime? To keep stockpiling "potential criminals" in detention seems a pretty silly way to deal with crimes that aren't even committed.
Movie Version Notes
The movie version of Minority Report starred Tom Cruise and came out in 2002. There are many changes here vs the original story. The most obvious one is that they COMPLETELY removed the entire main premise of the story, that there are changes to the time continuum based on Anderton learning of what is going to happen. Instead, they turn the story around so there is actually NO minority report - that all 3 versions of Anderton's future are the same, having him kill Leopold. The new premise of the movie is that the future is *uncertain* - where the book had the precogs seeing the reality of a set future.
In the movie, Anderton isn't an older, almost obsolete cop. He's a young, slick hotshot. Witwer isn't a newcomer looking to horn in on Anderton's turf. Witwer is an 'oversight' individual coming to judge the system. So the entire main emotion path of Anderton 'becoming obsolete' vs the army 'becoming obsolete' is completely gone.
Anderton is set up to commit a murder by his boss. He has 72 hours to figure out why he would murder this stranger and evades his own friends to do so. Security is run on eyeball recognition so he has his eyeballs yanked out and puts in new ones. He grabs the minority reporter and escapes with her to find out what she saw, thinking this will clear him of the murder charge. But actually she saw the same thing the others did - there IS no minority report. While he has her, though, he learns that her mother was killed in a devious way by Anderton's boss. The boss wanted to prevent the mother from taking the precog back and ruining the precrime setup. Anderton exercises free will and doesn't kill the guy he was supposed to, even though things are very plainly set up to say that this guy was responsible for kidnapping Anderton's son.
Then it's a race to have Anderton prove that his boss was responsible for the murder of the mom and for getting away with it by manipulating the precog's vision of it. At the end, they let out of jail every person ever accused of a precrime, since they feel that free will MIGHT have had some of those people change their mind at the last moment.
Lisa's Reaction to the Movie Version
This was a great action-thriller and since Anderton is a police commissioner, he does indeed have the 'spy-like' qualities that Tom Cruise shows. His character isn't a scientist or 'everydayman' like some of the other Philip K Dick stories. So the entire movie was made into an action-thriller featuring that main character, but they *bastardized* the entire story to get to that point. Where Imposter was a great version of the original story and people didn't like it, Minority Report was an AWFUL version of the original story and people loved it.
First off, Anderton was supposed to be an aging, balding, "obsolete" character. That was part of the main motivation here, his feeling of obsolescence and the army's feeling of obsolescence. All of that is gone. Instead, Anderton is a young, slick druggie who pines for his lost son (an invention). The precogs are sexy, naked adults instead of 'retarded' kid-like monstrosities.
The whole point of the original story was that knowledge of a future has the potential to allow you *change* that future which is equally recorded by a precog. The precogs were NOT wrong. They were each accurately recording their version of the future. The end of the story has the precrime system still in place. In comparison, the whole point of the movie was that the precogs COULD be wrong and people had free will. Humans COULD do things other than what the future did hold. And the end result is that the system collapses.
Not only that, but the movie has huge plot holes as a result of this wild change to the storyline. First off, Leopold is set up to appear to be the child molestor by Anderton's boss. Why? If the system is working perfectly, and it's about to go nation-wide, why would the boss want to put anything in to risk it? Nobody is going to realize he killed the mom, that's ancient news. Next, Anderton gets all these clues about a minority report, and the girl's testimony on his case is missing. But why? She did NOT have a minority report. She saw the same things the others saw! So it should have been on the tape, he should never have stolen her away and therefore never learned that the girl had other minority reports in her past.
I especially didn't like the scene in Anderton's house where the precog goes on a long monologue about what Anderton's son would have been like growing up, had he not been abducted and killed by a child molestor. Just what was the point of that? Is the precog now an Ouija board too, communicating with the dead? The whole anguish over the dead son was not in the original story and added to the emotion level, but again detracted from the actual sequence of events and meaning behind them.
It was a Happy Ending that Anderton and his wife end up together again, with her pregnant again. But the whole Hollywood Happy Ending with that and the system being shut down is the complete opposite of what the story was trying to tell us - and the fact that Hollywood says "free will triumphs!" also misses the point.
It's like making the movie version of Star Wars and having the Empire win in the end. Either you do a movie form of the book, or you do a movie without any reference to the book. But why claim it's based on the book when the entire plot is the opposite of what the book said? And why lose the entire plot twist and base plot line that made the story so fascinating? Did they think the movie watching audience was too dumb to understand how timelines would affect each other?
I loved the movie *as a story*. But as The Minority Report, it failed.
Buy Minority Report DVD from Amazon.com
The Minority Report is in the Selected Stories book from Amazon.com
Philip K Dick Stories Made Into Movies
A Scanner Darkly
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