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24 Things We Learned from Paul Verhoeven’s ‘Total Recall’ Commentary

Paul Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger might not have the chemistry of a Carpenter/Russell, but this is still a very good commentary.
Total Recall
By  · Published on April 19th, 2012

Welcome to Commentary Commentary, where we sit and listen to filmmakers talk about their work, then share the most interesting parts. In this edition, Kate Erbland buys a one-way ticket to Mars but discovers too late she has to share a seat with Paul Verhoeven and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Luckily she gets to listen to their commentary on Total Recall along the way.

It’s taken 33 Commentary Commentaries, 33 different movies we’ve heard all kinds of people from directors to actors to whatever was going on with Cannibal: The Musical, but we’ve finally gotten to AH-NOLD. That’s right. This week we’re looking into Total Recall, that mind-melting actioner from 1990 wherein Arnold Schwarzenegger uses a completely innocent bystander as a human shield, loses his memory, and saves just about every mutant living on Mars. He doesn’t save the girl with three breasts, though. That probably deserves a spoiler alert.

But it’s time to hear what Schwarzenegger and director Paul Verhoeven have to say about the whole experience. With the remake headed our way this Summer, we felt it was time to find out everything we could about this modern classic. Maybe this time next year we’ll have a Total Recall 2012 commentary from Colin Farrell and Len Wiseman. Wiseman has already offered a commentary for his film’s trailer, but there’s no way in the world it’s going to be as entertaining as listening to Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger. No way.

Let’s get our asses to Mars, shall we?

Total Recall (1990)

Commentators: Paul Verhoeven (director), Arnold Schwarzenegger (thespian, Governator, once killed a Predator)

Best in Commentary

“Philip Dick is trying to tell you the situation of life. That’s the question of all human beings, yeah? Where do I come from? Where am I going?” – Paul Verhoeven

“No regard for human life. Or death.” Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Marshall Bell I used again as the cowardly general in Starship Troopers, in fact. He was killed by a bug falling on top of him.” – Paul Verhoeven, who then proceeded to drop the mic.

Final Thoughts

Keeping up with the Total Recall commentary takes some getting used to. The amount of knowledge stored in Verhoeven and Schwarzenegger’s heads and the velocity with which they spew it forth is overwhelming. There are moments early on where the volume of the film kicks back in, the commentators subside for a moment, and you’re allowed to take a breath. Then Quaid goes to Mars, and the commentary becomes mostly the two explaining everything we’re seeing or Verhoeven explaining how the film works if you look at it all being inside Quaid’s head. That monopolizes the time, and while it doesn’t give us a whole lot to work with, it’s still fascinating just to hear these men speak.

The way Verhoeven says “innit?” in place of “right?” is adorable beyond compare. But it’s Schwarzenegger who throws out gem after gem, some of which don’t work unless you really hear him. Statements like “I run around like an Indian” or “My frustration about this taxi cab does not understand where I want to go” or “There’s one of my famous one-liners of mine.” hit one right after the other. To hear them done with that perfect, Arnold inflection makes it all worthwhile. Get your ass to the Total Recall commentary.

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