Back in the eighties there were several attempts to bring the movie Total Recall to the screen. One director attached to the project was David Cronenberg who worked with Ron Miller to give a unique take on the film.
While Miller worked on several unproduced films, including Dune, he's best known for his work illustrating astronomy books and writing science-fiction.
My wife [Judith Miller] and I both worked for nearly a year on the David Cronenberg version of Total Recall. At Dino DiLaurentiis' studio outside Rome, we worked under the direction of the brilliant production designer, Pierluigi Basile. I produced scores of drawings and paintings while Judith created models of sets and spacecraft, mostly of paper and balsa wood.
Cronenberg's Total Recall would certainly have been a very different movie than the one ultimately produced. So different, in fact, was the story that Cronenberg evolved that it was proposed at one time that his version be filmed as a sequel! What did eventually make the screen was much closer to what screenwriter Ron Shusett had originally imagined... less like the Philip K. Dick story, "I Can Remember It For You Wholesale", that the screenplay was based on — and which was what Cronenberg wanted to do — and more like an over-the-top adventure.
What eventually became Pyramid Mountain in the Verhoeven version was originally a prehistoric Martian sphinx excavated from the Martian desert, and a good deal more screen time was have been allotted to Kuato, including an elaborate dream sequence where he morphed first into the sphinx and then into a kind of phosphorescent vagina. Cronenberg had some very Cronenberg touches, such as agents with guns hidden within their bodies, but absolutely my favorite idea of all those we came up with was to have camels imported from earth to haul freight across the Martian deserts. This would, of course, have been after significant terraforming had already been done...but not so much that the camels didn't have to wear respirators!
I've put together a small collection of this preproduction art...to illustrate a little of what Total Recall might have been...
Thanks Neil for the tip!
What do you think of the art? Would Total Recall have been different with these designs?