Is the Ending Of Minority Report a Dream?

In the Spielberg Never Made Me Well Up Like Jackson thread, **Cliffy ** says:

Well, count me as one who never caught on – what are the signals, besides the missing waking up scene, that indicate the ending is a dream? And has Spielberg ever stated something to that effect in an interview?

I’ve always been of the opinion that it could be a dream. The caretaker of the sleep cannister place has some rather subtle unsubtle dialog with Cruise early on, says something like: “The people in there are free to dream entire liives for themselves.”

Sir Rhosis

1.) Put “Spoilers” in the title, or use spoiler boxes and note they’re about WotW!

2.) I’ll agree with Just1Lurk on this – I didn’t see anything, and I kinda doubt it, actually. Certainly the original Philip K. Dick story isn’t a dream. In fact, despuite his penchant for screwing around with reality, his We Can Rember it for You… isn’t a dream (although you could make a very good case that Total Recall is) and Decker isn’t a replicant in the novel Do Androids Dream… (and I’m in the camp that doesn’t believe it is in the movie either.)

I don’t see why anyone would think the ending is a dream. Are you suggesting that Spielberg altered the narrative style, without warning or indication, for the last 12 minutes of this movie? The whole story is told 3rd person. I didn’t see anything to indicate that the ending is any different. Even as heavy-handed as Spielberg can get, I can’t for the life of me see this. I just watched the ending again, too, and I still don’t see any indicators for the viewer that this is the case.

I think that the dream ending is a credible interpretation, but I don’t think that it is the definitive ending that most were too stupid to catch on to.

I don’t see a “dream” ending, but it’s a weak ending nonetheless. The entire premise of putting people into comas because of a prevented act of passion is ludicrous in any event. The only reason the movie has any tension is because of the preposterously draconian punishments. Some intense short-term therapy, a trial separation and long-term marriage counseling is a much more useful response to the interrupted marital murder at the beginning than just whisking the husband off, for example. Cruise’s narration says the released prisoners were monitored by the police, some for years, but Cruise himself who engaged in kidnapping and who actually managed to kill someone (Leo Crow) seems free to pick up the pieces with his ex-wife, unencumbered.

It seems obvious to me in hindsight, although I certainly never said that people who missed it are idiots. I missed it the first time around too.

The caretaker guy tells Anderton that when someone goes in the storage chamber, the rumor is that they have wonderful dreams. Then, Anderton goes in the storage chamber. Immediately thereafter, the wife who abandoned him goes on a commando raid to rescue him – using his eyes to bypass security. As far as Pre-Crime is concerned, Anderton is a murderer, he’s kidnapped one of their sensitives, and they don’t even change the locks?

They escape and Anderton immediately topples the establishment which had locked him up, Lamar (von Sydow) kills himself because he can’t bear to hurt Anderton anymore, Anderton and his wife get back together, and she’s pregnant!!! It’s the same ending as the Book of Job, and it’s equally appalling unless you realize that Spielberg is in on the joke.


Ah, but he didn’t *technically * kill him, did he? Cruise was going arrest Crow (or is it Crowe?) and Crow pulled the trigger himself. For that matter, so did Von Sydow’s character. And I think that’s where Spielberg regularly wimps out in his movies - circumstances arrange themselves so that the hero remains morally pure.

I’m not sure that anything in the quote in the OP really qualifies as a spoiler, but would a moderator please put “Spoilers” in the title?

I have watched Minority Report from both viewpoints (ending a dream/not a dream) and really both of them work to some extent.

But the more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that the “dream” ending was what was intended. The clues were subtle:

1. The aforementioned comment from the clerk about the prisoners “dreaming whole lives for themselves.” 2. 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?? 3. 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.


To me the feel of the whole ending sequence had a “too good to be true” quality, everything ended in the best possible scenario…bad guy dead, Tom and his wife reunited, the Cogs freed and safe from harm, etc. Granted, “happy endings” are a Spielberg trademark, but I could also buy the notion that from inside his prison container he could have dreamt the whole thing. It seemed purposefully over the top.

Great movie, makes you think…!

Spielberg is not what I would call an ambiguous director. If he wants us to think the ending is a dream, he would definitely put clues in the film, like Ridley did with Deckard’s eyes in Blade Runner. Is there any evidence in the film that the ending is a dream besides the fact that it’s preposterous? After all, Spielberg’s addiction to happy endings (and logic be damned) is well known.

An argument against the ending being a dream is the fact that Agatha instigates everything that occurs in the movie. Von Sydow’s character set up Crow’s murder because Anderton was investigating the death of Ann Lively - and Anderton was only doing that in the first place because Agatha grabbed him and showed him the murder.
Spielberg also clearly established that Agatha could see the future independently of the other pre-cogs; she foretells the future repeatedly in the mall scene, for instance.
So why would Agatha do all this unless she foresaw that it would lead to the end of the pre-crime program and her and the other pre-cogs being freed? If Agatha knew that Von Sydow would triumph in the end, why would she bother?
Unless of course, the entire movie is Agatha’s dream…

IMHO, a darker and more compelling ending would be for Anderton to kill Crow and reveal Von Sydow’s crime, thereby bringing down Pre-Crime; only then does he realize (as they come to put the halo on him), that he was only Agatha’s pawn.

Erm, maybe. Since Schindler’s List, where you see happy endings, I see Spielberg using the tools at his disposal to tell deeply unhappy stories well gilded. The first time I noticed it was in A.I., and Minority Report confirmed it. That also gave me a better understanding of Saving Private Ryan, which of all of them most wears its pessimism on its sleeve. I think the emptiness you feel at the artifically happy ending of certain Spielberg films of the last few years was put there on purpose. And I think there’s so much evidence of this in the bulk of the films, it can’t just be a coincidence.


I’ve yet to see any evidence that he’s being disquieting, though, instead of just glossing over things. I don’t see Spielberg as an ambiguous guy either.

I don’t think Spielberg is that much of a cynic. I’ve seen films where the happy ending was tacked on for commercial reasons - and they’re not Spielberg’s films. His films have happy endings because those are the stories he wants to tell. I think the reason why Spielberg is the most popular director in film history is because he understands the audience’s love of happy endings - an understanding rooted in the fact that he shares that love.
I don’t deny that since *Schinder’s List * Spielberg has been more willing to explore the darker side of life, but it’s always been an element in his work. His films, to me, represent a tension between hope and dread - hope always winning, of course. When this balance is done right, you get great films like Jaws, or Close Encounters. Where Spielberg runs into trouble is when he stacks the deck too much in the favor of hope.
FTR, I think Minority Report’s a great film too.

Fantasy wish-fulfillment is a bit of a theme with the movie.

At the beginning, Anderton is obsessed with spending time getting high and immersing himself in holographic images of his lost son. This speaks to his personality. The guy who supplies the drugs tells him “Sweet dreams.”

Later, he gets help from the neuroelectronics guy who runs “Dreamweavers,” which is all about wish fulfillment. When we first meet him, the proprietor is talking to someone who bady wants the experience of killing his boss.

It’s already been mentioned that the guy at the detention center says that it makes “All your dreams come true.”

The last thing that his son says to him in the obvious dream sequence is “The more you want to believe something, the easier it is to be fooled.”

It seems to me that Anderton gave in and let himself be fooled.

I immediately thought the ending was a dream when I saw it. Talk about unsubtle exchanges! Cruise and the “prison guard” talking about how not only do people dream, but their fondest dreams come true! Then all of a sudden, everything gets rosy?

Forget it. A cop-out from a director from whom I used to expect much better stuff.

And if he wusses out on WoTW I’m gonna be really pissed.

As long as we’re talking about it, could somebody explain to me how any of that damn movie makes any sense? How did the old guy set it up? Cruise only goes to kill the pretend abductor because he saw himself doing it – so why did he see himself doing it? Did the old guy just make it happen by wanting it to happen? The whole thing falls apart if you try to figure out what the first step was. Doesn’t it? I’m not going to pretend I’m not an idiot, or that I get things, but what the hell?

I like to think of the ending as a dream. I think I first came across that interpretation here on the SDMB, it fits with the evidence, and I like it better than the “everything comes out great” ending. Now, just because I chose to interpret it that way doesn’t mean that’s what Spielberg intended, nor does it mean you have to interpret it that way.

Speaking of A.I, I wish the movie had ended with David trapped under the ocean, pleading with the Blue Fairy until the end of time (or until his batteries died out). I think it would’ve been much more effective.

Spielberg is hardly alone in that regard, but in any case Crowe was killed with Anderton’s gun and there’s a ton of evidence suggesting Crowe killed Anderton’s son and the only witness is a woman who has a bit of a babbling problem. Despite Anderton’s claim that he relented at the last second, it would look pretty bad in a court of law.

Plus there’s the kidnapping, and the (presumably) illegal eye-swap. I know it’s typical for the hero of a crime movie to have a happy ending, no matter how many assaults, car crashes and assaults with deadly weapons he may have committed, but this was stretching things a bit.

Unless it was a dream, in which case the movie doesn’t deserve analysis since it’s one big cheat and I hate that stuff.

What would the movie be about if it was a dream?