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I remember the first time I saw the movie Minority Report.  It was the Summer of 2002,  a time in American  history when we really chased hard after heroes.  We jumped from media headline to media headline, looking for something — anything — to feel a little safer at night even if it meant clinging tightly to make-believe.   And who can blame us? Just ten months before we woke up to horrific images splayed across our television sets.

(A scared new world.)

Terrorists stuck a four-pronged spear in our  softspot, and we were still reeling, and while we pumped ourselves up for this new War on Terrorism, we were gripped by a gung-ho zeitgeist.  George Dubya was our champion and our cheerleader.

But still, we needed more . We needed Hollywood to give us perspective.

That summer, just ten short months after that  awful morning in mid September when our illusions of American impregnability were shattered,  we needed to feel safe.  We needed to feel like there was some way to control the random way violence and fear can infiltrate lives.

Enter Tom Cruise and the notion of Precrime.

(And Steven Spielberg can bring it like no other.)

I  remember sitting in the theatre – smack dab in the center, my popcorn untouched and my Coke flat-lining because I was so taken with Minority Report’s premise and  execution that all I could do was stare at the screen and sink into the story:  Precrime — A way of ensuring that murder is eradicated.  Sounds great.  Sounds… safe.  And yet — not to get all Greek Tragedy on you — there was an inevitable and all-too-human component that could unravel the system.

And unravel it did.  With a banging soundtrack.  And lots and lots of shots of Tom Cruise running.   (Because that’s what he does best. Just saying.)

While the story itself was gripping, and the concept of the Precogs was compelling, I was most enthralled by the opening scene:  I remember being blown away while I watched Tom Cruise manipulating light and space with the wave of his hands.  There was a poignancy to it , a grace I would never expect of him, and I stared open-mouthed as the images whirled like virtual ballerinas.  Tom Cruise was magnificent as he conducted the images in syncopated time while Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony soared in the background.

 

And you know what’s kind of awesome?  Minus the creepy Precogs and the flying cars,  nearly ten years later, this technology is kind of sort of around:

So props to Spielberg for seeing into the future.  And lets hope we can do the same: Despite our fears, I hope we take heed from the way things went down in Minority Report and steer clear of making this dystopian vision of the future our social paradigm.

(*Cough* Patriot Act *Cough*)

Yes, there are very real things to be afraid of – yes, there are monsters who would seek to strike  us while we sleep.  But trying to predict a nebulous future can morph into a self-fulfilling prophecy:  In other words, thinking we know what will happen  can sometimes make it so.

(Yeah, Oprah called.  She wants “The Secret” back.)

And ultimately, as random and chaotic as life can be — and as hard as we try to control our world, and our future, Precrime doesn’t pay.