Minority Report: From Story to ScreenAdaptations 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…
…short story, it would be pretty dull.
The timeliness of Minority Report is uncanny, given the current situation in politics. Philip K. Dick’s short story emerged in 1956. The script for the film, written by Jon Cohen and Scott Frank, was completed well in advance of the shock of the post-9/11 terror frenzy. Dick’s intuitions of pre-crime enforcement have been brought to the big screen at just the moment when his seemingly sixth-sense is starting to be seen in real life. Both the story and the film warn the future of society of the suffocating effects of an encroaching police state.Works CitedDick, Philip K. Minority Report and Other Classic Stories. New York City: Citadel Press, 1987. 71-102.
Minority Report. Dir. Steven Spielberg. Perf. Tom Cruise, Colin Farrell, Samantha Morton. DVD. Twentieth Century Fox and Dreamworks, 2002.