Minority Report the Movie Essay

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Minority Report

Technological sophistication without the foundations of character and integrity are bound to backfire. Bridging futuristic science with the psychic realm, Spielberg successfully portrays the moral and ethical dilemmas of technology.

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Minority report by Steven Spielberg is a classic science fiction movie that has an unusual mix of the two different domains -- the spiritual as well as the scientific domains. This thrilling science fiction, based on the story by the well-known author Philip K. Dick, succeeds in providing the viewers with visually appealing, mentally stimulating and an emotionally charged story line. With the able direction from Steven Spielberg, excellent cinematography by Janusz Kaminski and wonderful portrayals by Tom cruise (John Anderton), Collin Farrell (Danny Witwer) and the expressive Samantha Morton (Agatha) the movie takes the audience some 50 years ahead portraying how crime control would have evolved based on the conglomeration of technology and the psychic realm. Released in the aftermath of the Sep 11 terror attacks, the main theme of the movie revolves around prophylactic crime solving. Using psychics who have premonitions and clairvoyance as the main base of crime control, the movie touches upon the concepts of 'Universal Mind' or the 'Universal consciousness'. The movie also echoes with the continuous clash of the conflicting concepts of destiny and free will. So the movie in itself can be dissected and analyzed in two different perspectives, one from a purely scientific angle and the other from a moral and ethical viewpoint.

Summary 1

Essay on Minority Report the Movie Assignment

John Anderton is the chief of the 'Pre crime' unit in the District of Columbia, a new crime control division that focuses on controlling violent crimes by arresting people who are about to commit the crime before they commit the crime. This proactive or prophylactive crime control is possible due to the inputs from 3 'precogs' who have the special powers to visualize violent crimes in their minds before they actually happen. Agatha, the main 'pre cog' and two other twins with psychic abilities constitute the Precog team. These pre-cog members are kept in a continuous dreaming state so they can provide information about potentially dangerous criminals on a round the clock basis. John Anderton is portrayed as a psychologically disturbed character who longs for his lost son and is addicted to drugs. His clear motive is to avert such crimes from happening in future so people do not have to suffer the loss that he himself suffered (losing his son) The pre-crime system is an astounding success with potential criminals being rounded up well before they commit their crime and soon the entire nation wants to accept it. Danny Witwer is the FBI agent sent to analyze the system before it could be nationally implemented. Lamar Burgess, the director of the pre-crime, who had himself committed the murder of Anne Lively, the mother of Agatha (the main precog), setsup Anderton for a murder as he started to probe into the murder of Anne Lively. The rest of the movie revolves around how Anderton, using the help of Agatha, brings Lamar to justice and reveals his real nature to the public. The interesting use of the echo concept provided the director the control necessary to build the story. Spielberg clearly expounds how vulnerable technology could be before the evil and conjuring mind of man.


The central theme of the movie, is the 'the pre-crime' concept. We see in Anderton a good-natured protagonist, who strives to avert crime and save the emotional pain that it would cause to people. Having lost his son, crime control is the only motivation in his life that keeps him going. Therefore, we see that Anderton is dedicated to the 'Pre crime' program without an iota of doubt on its accuracy. He never questions the system and has absolutely no conflicting thoughts in arresting the would be criminals. However, when Anderton sees himself as the criminal in one of the premonitions of the precogs, he could not accept the fact. This is the first time he seriously doubts the pre-vison. This contradiction we can infer from his conversation with Dr. Iris Hineman (who invented the Precrime) ' I am not gonna commit murder. I never met the man I am supposed to kill" [Steven Spielberg] To his shock Dr. Iris further explains that the 'precogs are never wrong but occasionally they do disagree' [Steven Spielberg] This is the moment in the movie that director Spielberg sprinkles 'doubt' into the equation. This is also the moment of awakening for John Anderton who was for so long unquestionably following the previsions. With a strong self-belief that his case is one of the 'minority reports', he escapes to prove his innocence. [Brian Godawa]

There is also an underlying irony in the theme of the movie in that, the director of 'Precrime', Lamar Burgess, himself commits a murder. He succumbs to the usual human weakness of name and fame and is blinded to the sin of murder. All that matters to him is to keep possession and control of Agatha (the main precog) and he is so reluctant to part with her when her mother wants her back. All that he cares is his own 'Precrime project' and the name and fame that it would give him. The director clearly highlights how humans are vulnerable to such selfish impulses and pursuits. We see that from a fatherly figure to Anderton, Lamar becomes the demon. As Dr. Iris Heineman says, "You shouldn't trust anyone," [Lester D. Friedman]

Summary 2

Spielberg's 'Minority report' revolves around the precognitive abilities or the psychic powers of three people, known as the 'Precogs', as an important tool in fighting crime. Set in the future (2054), the district of Columbia is successfully running a 'Precrime Program' which averts crimes before they can occur using the ability of the precogs to visualize future events. These three precogs, as we understand, are products of genetic experiments on brain-damaged kids. Anderton and his associates use the visions of these precogs to track down and arrest the potential criminals. The arrested criminals are then permanently housed in a state of suspended animation inside pneumatic tubes. The movie gains momentum when Anderton, the main detective of 'Precrime', finds himself to be a potential criminal. Unable to digest it, he escapes his fellow officers and seeks out the truth about the system. After an intense action packed escape sequence including cars chases, flying suits, guns that produces shock waves, and 'sick-sticks' that cause sickness on contact, [Philip Jonkers] Anderton arrives at the place of Dr. Iris Hineman, the main scientist of the precrime program. He learns about the deleted 'Minority reports' and the possible fallibility of the prevision program. Anderton replaces his eyes to evade identification. He sneaks inside the 'precog temple' (as it is called) and abducts Agatha to download more info pertaining to the minority reports. From the downloaded minority reports, Anderton understands that the real culprit is Lamar Burgess. The public broadcast of the video report is the final blow for Lamar.


We see an unfolding of moral and ethical dilemma as Anderton who had for so long placed unconditional faith in the 'precrime' system is shaken up when he hears about the existence of 'minority reports' that suggested disagreement between the previsions of the three precogs. There is an expression of remorse as he feels guilty about the system, 'what about those people whom I put away without any futures' [Spielberg]. Just based on the premise of prevision is it ethical to permanently intern a person? What if he happens to be innocent ? Throughout the movie we notice the precogs are housed in an enclosed nutrient water medium expressing great distress and suffering the emotions of their dreams. (which are premonitions) This again brings up an ethical dilemma. Is it fair to put these three people into an eternal suffering by keeping them continuously in a sleepy state and letting them suffer the horrid dreams ? Can crime control justify this? Today when we are seriously debating the morality of the use of torture on criminals how could we justify the suffering imposed on the precogs when they have not even done any crime?.

We also see the issue of privacy being addressed in this movie. Throughout the movie we notice that retinal scan is used as a routine public identification system. All places from work sites, public transport system to shopping complexes uses retinal scan to identify an individual suggesting that in the near future privacy would be a lost privilege. In particular, the scene that depicts the use of spiders for iris scanning and how readily people submit to the law enforcement indicates the total intrusion into the private space would be a reality of the future. Last but not the least is the use of the concept of psychic mind. The little nuances involving the escape scenes with Agatha, the use of Umbrella, the balloon man, the rain, and the forewarning to the girl on the way 'he… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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