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In Steven Spielberg's Minority Report (2002), John Anderton is fitted with a device called a "halo". The device puts him into a perpetual sleep state as punishment for pre-murder.

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Before Anderton is put to sleep, the halo technician tells him:

It's actually kind of a rush. They say you have visions. That your life flashes before your eyes. That all your dreams come true.

This leads me to wonder whether everything past the point at which Anderton is halo'ed is real or not. Given that everything more or less works out for Anderton in the end —

he is free from the sleep prison, he has been cleared of pre-murder, the Pre-Crime Project has been dismantled, the precogs are liberated, and he even gets his estranged wife back

— I wonder if what we see is just a "dream come true" experienced by Anderton in his perpetual sleep.

Are there any clues in the film to suggest that, post-halo, the film's events are a dream? On the other hand, is there evidence that what we see is not a dream?

Of course, definitive statements from the creative team behind the film are also welcome.

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    I'm curious to see what answers you get to this question. This possibility never occurred to me while watching the movie. – Whovian4Life Jul 19 '15 at 21:40
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    I'm curious as well, but for another reason -- the relation to Total Recall. Quoting from IMDB's trivia section "The adaptation of short story "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick was originally planned as a sequel to Total Recall (1990) by writers Ronald Shusett and Gary Goldman (later joined by Robert Goethals). The setting was changed to Mars with the Precogs being people mutated by the Martian atmosphere, as established in the first film." -- as a sequel to a movie with the same kind of "If/When did reality end" question, it seems to be an ongoing theme. – K-H-W Jul 19 '15 at 22:39
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Maybe

Summary

There is no right answer that we know of. Below I present some evidence both for and against the ending being halo-induced; both arguments have pretty good evidence in support of them. Although there has recently been a new series set 10 years after the movie, we still don't know whether or not it is halo-induced (see Edit 2). After doing this research, my opinion is that the ending was halo-induced, however this is more of a gut feeling than anything else!


This is actually discussed on the Wikipedia article for the film (emphasis mine):

The most commonly criticized element of the film is its ending (Source 1, Source 2). The film has a more traditional "happy ending" which contradicts the tone of the rest of the picture. This has led to speculation that this ending is the product of John's imagination, caused by hallucinations from his forced coma after he is incarcerated. As one observer mused, "The conclusion of Minority Report strikes me as a joke Spielberg played on his detractors—an act of perfectly measured deviltry." (Source 3)

One critic theorized, "...[r]ather than end this Brazil-ian sci-fi dystopia with the equivalent of that film's shot of its lobotomized hero, which puts the lie to the immediately previous scene of his imagined liberation, Spielberg tries to pass off the exact same ending but without the rimshot, just to see if the audience is paying attention." (Source 3) Film scholars Nigel Morris and Jason P. Vest point to a line in the film as possible evidence of this. After Anderton is captured, Gideon tells him that, "It's actually kind of a rush. They say you have visions. That your life flashes before your eyes. That all your dreams come true." (Source 4) While Vest considers the blissful dream ending a possibility, he questions why Anderton did not imagine his son as having returned. (Source 5)

However, as pointed out by Praxis in chat, this article explains the tricycle scene:

Re-watch the scene where Anderton pulls up to Lara's house after she phones Lamar. Sean's tricycle is very deliberately sitting on the front lawn as if he'd just finished riding it, threw it over, and went running down the lane. Six years after he was kidnapped.

Just to make the point a bit more obvious; why would Sean be riding a tricycle still six years after he was kidnapped?

EDIT

I had previously written above the following:

This scene (the tricycle scene), for me at least, confirms that Anderton is dreaming. So this scene implies that in Anderton's view, his son has returned and hasn't aged since he last saw him - Anderton probably is dreaming.

Yet, as pointed out in Lèse majesté's comment below, the tricycle is left more as a shrine - it is rusted with weeds growing around it. This suggests that in fact Anderton's son wasn't recently riding the tricycle, just to add more confusion!

This then casts doubt over the tricycle scene - if it was a shrine it could possibly mean that Anderton is dreaming, his son has returned and the shrine is serving as a shrine for when his son went missing but possibly a reminder of the happy ending. Alternatively, it could be reality and that shrine is a testament to Sean's memory. Sorry to leave this as a maybe yes/maybe no answer but it seems like Spielberg intentionally made this one for the audience to make their own mind up about!

Edit 2

A new sequel series has recently aired, also called Minority Report, described by IMDB as follows:

10 years after the end of Precrime in Washington DC one of the three PreCogs attempts to lead on a normal life while still suffering from visions of the future. Will they be able to hold it together or mentally breakdown and give up?

Now, again there is no definitive answer, but it offers us three options:

  1. The ending of the movie is not halo-induced, the Pre-Cog program was dismantled and we are following one of the three PreCogs 10 years later
  2. The ending of the movie is halo-induced and this series is merely a continuation of the halo-induced ending in Anderton's mind. Precrime continued operating in the real world.
  3. the ending of the movie is halo-induced, but this series is not part of that halo-induced aspect; for some reason Precrime was dismantled in reality.

So, even with this new source, we're no closer to knowing. I am still of the opinion that the ending is halo-induced, but as I say above, this is more of a gut feeling than anything that has solid evidence to support it; both interpretations are equally valid unless further evidence is offered by this new series!

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    This is a really interesting interpretation, and it has a certain appeal to me. However, I interpret the tricycle scene differently. Note that the lawn is unkempt, partly brown, partly covered in weeds. The tricycle itself is upturned and rusted. Even the script refers specifically to the tricycle as rusted, which to me implies that the scene is staged to convey a sense of loss. They had the perfect marriage, perfect home and perfect son, but now it's all just the debris of the past in their new, shattered lives. – Lèse majesté Jul 20 '15 at 7:08
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    @lesemajeste - Agreed. The tricycle (and the unkempt garden) are a shrine. – Valorum Jul 20 '15 at 7:20
  • @Lèsemajesté you make an interesting point - I was only going from memory so thanks for that point! – Often Right Jul 20 '15 at 7:56
  • This is a great answer, but with all the edit's it's difficult to get a proper full picture of your answer. It might be good to put the conclusion higher up, or reformatting some of the later contradicted conjecture to clarify it. – AncientSwordRage Oct 1 '15 at 22:25
  • Thanks for the edits, N_Soong. This is still the best / most complete answer in my opinion, and so it will stay accepted (although I briefly unaccepted it for a second, but only by accident while I was clicking around trying to find out when a bounty was awarded to the other answer). You probably don't need the edit headers, as Pureferret said, but it's up to you. – Praxis Oct 5 '15 at 2:18
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+100

NO

I never felt that from watching the movie, and one thing that can confirm that is the new Minority Report series: that show continues the movie's story and now we can know for sure that everything that the movie depicted was true from start to finish.

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    Unless that series is halo-induced as well... – Often Right Sep 25 '15 at 1:35
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    @Matias : To echo N_Soong's remark, I'm not sure what this really concludes. I'm glad you got a reward for this (Keen's bounty), but we can't "know for sure that everything in the movie depicted was true from start to finish" because what we see in the television show might just be a continuation of Anderton's halo-induced dream. – Praxis Oct 5 '15 at 2:15
  • @Praxis The thing is that I can't imagine a whole TV series based on a alleged halo induced movie ending. – Matías Cánepa Oct 5 '15 at 22:52
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    @Matías : I also can't imagine it, but not being able to imagine something isn't usually enough on SFF:SE. In a case like this, we need something irrefutable or canonical. (In a situation like this, where nothing on-screen can prove 100% that the show is not halo-induced, we would need a specific statement from someone involved with the film or the series.) – Praxis Oct 5 '15 at 23:02
3

This was also dicussed on another forum whereby the consensus was also: maybe, maybe not.

Some of the main points someone mentioned in support of the dream-ending were (the following are quoted):

  • The aforementioned comment from the clerk about the prisoners "dreaming whole lives for themselves".

  • They use Anderton's old eyeballs to get into the Pre-Cogs tankroom...He's a known pre-criminal but they didn't change his security clearance??

  • In the scenes where he comes to get even with/kill Max Von Sydow he is wearing a mask through much of it if not all of it.

However, it was also argued that the points mentioned were so subtle that it it was merely a coincidence that they could lead to a dream-like ending.

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    I just want to say, I've worked at a place where it takes about 30 days and fifteen stacks of paperwork to get someone removed from the system, even when they put in their two weeks notice. So the idea that his eyeballs still work is not that far-fetched. – Mark Jul 20 '15 at 16:59
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    You could also wonder why the eyeball was not thrown away from Anderton's belongings before being passed to Lara, as it could be considered a biohazard. – nuoritoveri Jun 20 '16 at 20:55
  • @nuoritoveri, good point. – user35594 Jun 20 '16 at 22:50
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The dream-ending theory contradicts the very essence of why the film was called “Minority Report” and why the minority report was an integral element of the story per se.

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    Welcome to SFF! While this may answer the question it is better to explain why this is the correct answer in your answer. At the moment this merely reads as a comment. – TheLethalCarrot Jun 6 '18 at 9:33
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There is no narration from the hero until after he is placed into a dream state..... hes talking to himself like we all do when we dream.

The ending is a dream.

  • 2
    Hey; you should provide some evidence, because this seems to really be nothing more than a theory that you could have posted as a comment... Once you have enough rep, you'll be able to do so. In the meantime, please refrain from posting answers that don't help! Thanks, and welcome to SFF.SE! – voldemortswrath--inp.repl.co Aug 10 at 2:56
  • You talk to yourself when you dream? – Adamant Aug 10 at 4:27

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