Minority Report: From Story to Screen
Adaptations are never carbon copies. A prime example is Philip K. Dick’s short story and Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film, Minority Report. The structure of the storytelling is indeed different as well as other key elements. The narrative transforms its structure into a more episodic approach when brought to the screen. Words on paper take on a new identity when brought to life on a visual basis.
Philip K. Dick’s Minority Report, written in 1956, was ahead of its time. The short story explores the consequences of technology and science and how the technology echoes the present state of society. Both the story and the film emphasize the same basic themes, however the actual plot is almost completely diverse. The film takes place around the year 2054. For five years (six in the film), the Pre-Crime Unit has successfully made murder a thing of the past. Their astounding technology is credited to three pre-cogs. These “idiot” pre-cogs identify killers before they commit their crimes, drastically cutting the crime rate by “ninety-nine and a decimal point eight percent” (in the film this rate was zero) (Dick 74). However, this infallible system runs amuck when Commander Anderton, played by Tom Cruise, is accused of a future murder. Anderton finds himself with only 24 hours (36 in the film) to discover who set him up and in the process, flee from the hands of the authority he once governed. If he fails, Anderton will fall victim to the perfect system he co-created. Both the story and the film are suspenseful and ask the question, “Is pre-crime justified?” The notion of innocent until proven guilty is virtually discarded. The accused murderers are based upon pure metaphysics. Theme and plot are not the only ways in which the film and the movie can be compared and contrasted.
Even the characters have very different traits. John Anderton in the short story is rather old and balding. He seems rather disgruntled and has an immense disliking for Witward. In Spielberg’s film, Anderton is played by Tom Cruise who is far from old and balding. Spielberg most likely chose the young A-list actor as opposed to an older one that fits the profile of Dick’s Anderton mainly for money’s sake. Simply having the name “Tom Cruise” in a movie leads many more people to view the film, even if they do not necessarily know the story line. In the movie, Anderton’s motive for joining the pre-crime forces was because his son was kidnapped and murdered. As a result, Anderton finds himself with a drug problem as a means of coping with his depression. In the film, Anderton and his wife are divorced. However, in the beginning of Dick’s story, Anderton has suspicion that his wife, Lisa, is behind the plot to set him up. In the film, Anderton is fortuned to kill Leon Crow, whereas in the story he is predetermined to kill a man by the name of Leopold...