A Scanner Darkly

Yesterday, I had time to finish reading A Scanner Darkly, a novel by the american Science Fiction writer Philip K. Dick. I’ve read some of his stories and books many of which have been made into films. A few weeks ago, I read that there was coming yet another film based on one of Dick’s stories, so I decided to read it.

The book isn’t really all that sci-fi – it’s much more focused on drug misuse and how this can deteriorate the brain dramatically. The only real sci-fi element is the so-called “scramble suits” which the under-cover narcotics agent, Fred, wears to conceal his identity. Without delving too deeply into the plot, I can say that the identity question is central to the story, as Fred is assigned to surveillance duty on Bob Arctor – who just so happens to be Fred’s secret alter ego.

I found the book very intense and full of interesting observations, and definitely a major work on drugs and their effects. So therefore, I’m now more interested than ever in the upcoming film. Especially when I heard that Charlie Kaufman had written a script based on the book. Kaufman has written the scripts for the brilliant Being John Malkovich and the fascinating Adaption, so I would be quite interested to see what he could make of such a schizophrenic book.

That won’t happen, unfortunately. Instead of Kaufman’s script, the indie director Richard Linklater who is in charge of the project, has written a new script of his own.
That doesn’t necessarily make it a bad film, but I would rather have liked to have seen Kaufman’s take on the book.

The film will be using the same animation technique that Linklater used in Waking Life. It’s a concept where the entire film is shot like ordinary film, and then is treated extensively in post/production to animate the already moving pictures. It gives a wonderful effect and some quite interesting possibilities. In Waking Life, Linklater used the technique to give the impression of lucid dreaming – a dream where the dreamer is aware that he is dreaming, yet cannot wake up. I could imagine that this technique would work to great effect in A Scanner Darkly as well.

So far, only a few frames of animation have been released, but they look quite convincing. Check them out here.

.. oh, and by the way. The technique is also used in the cartoon-segment of Lars von Trier and Joergen Leth’s The Five Obstructions:

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