Flawed Sight


Near the beginning of Spielberg’s Minority Report (2002), a man with no eyes tells the protagonist, “My daddy always said in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.” This plays into the film’s internal logic, which questions the notion of justice–which is, of course, supposedly “blind.” The “precogs” (or “precognitives”), Agatha, Arthur, and Dashiell, represent the “one-eyed man”–or a part of him–in this case, since their composite glimpses into the future can potentially see violent crimes before they occur, which in turn allow them to “see” justice. Mistakes can occur, however, just as they can when someone views the world with singular vision. But the precogs, despite their prophetic abilities, are not themselves the “kings,” for they are kept in catatonic states by law enforcers who utilize them as the means to a “lawful” end. These enforcers, then, are the kings. But, Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?, as the Latin saying goes–“Who will watch the watchers?”


The film gives us a bureaucratic answer to this question with Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell), a federal agent sent to investigate the precognitive process. Working on behalf of the Attorney General, Witwer looks for holes in the PreCrime Division, and finds them:

If there’s a flaw, it’s human. It always is.

We are our own flaw; even a system as theoretically perfect as Minority Report‘s PreCrime is doomed to present flaws because it was created, and is implemented, by humans. Everything we create must therefore logically be problematic from conception, for the imperfect hands of the creator will always pass imperfection on to their works.

This film explores a plethora of complex philosophical issues, but the issue of justice is at the forefront: even among the blind, those with eyes for justice are ultimately fallible because they are ultimately human. In this way, the film posits, justice must always be blind, even in a fantastical situation where we can foresee the ostensible future, for we ourselves must be the ones to dispense justice–and certainly, we are our own flaw.


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