It is a fool-proof system born to ensure absolute safety…but when it crumbles, would you go against everything it stands for just to save it? This is the platform that Philip K. Dick, author of the sci-fi short story “The Minority Report” (MR), has given us. Set in a futuristic New York City, we see Police Commissioner John A. Anderton as the founder of a promising new branch of policing: Precrime, a system that uses “Precogs” (mutated and retarded oracles) to predict all future crimes. However, the system appears to backfire when Anderton himself is accused to kill a man he’s never even heard of. The movie adaptation by the same name also centers on a younger Chief Anderton, a respected employee of Precrime, predicted to murder a complete stranger who he was unaware existed. Amidst scandal, betrayal, and distrust, both Andertons must run from the justice system they’ve worked so hard to put in place, and admit to themselves, as well as to society, that a perfect system cannot be born of imperfect humans. Though the basis of the film’s plot and major conflict stayed true to the story’s, many changes were made to the personalities and roles of the characters, as well as the nature and detail of the main conflict and the sub-conflicts.
Dick presents our main character, Commissioner John Anderton, as the balding, pot-bellied founder of a revolutionary new crime detection system who’s been showing his years for longer than he’d care to remember. In the short story, he has just acquired a new assistant, Ed Witwer, and fears being replaced by the younger man. In the beginning, Anderton is portrayed as slightly insecure about his job (to the point of near paranoia of being set-up), as well as his importance to society, though by the e…
…d.While in MR, Anderton is trying to accept the inevitability of retiring and what may be his less useful future, in the movie, much of his struggle is with his past, and the guilt he feels. His conflicts still revolve around evading Witwer and Lamar, whether to murder to prevent murder, and his own inner turmoil.
Though the similarities in the most obvious conflicts, those between Anderton and Kaplan, the protagonist and antagonist, and fate remain intact, it is obvious that Philip Dick’s story has been expanded upon and the main characters made to fit the “big screen”. Both stories, however, address the contradictions and repercussions of trying to encourage free will and safety in an ultimately predetermined setting, the basic moral conflict of destroying what is meant to represent a utopian security, as well as the issue of trading freedom for protection.