Communicator (communicator) wrote,

A Scanner Darkly

In comments andrewducker points to this trailer for A Scanner Darkly - Richard Linklater's rotoscope animation of Philip K Dick's best novel.

Have you read the novel? What do you think of it, and the rendition in this trailer?

I've got two issues, one is that I think rotoscope looks nice, and lets the film slide between realism and fantasy - which is kind of what it's all about - but it's a bit emotionally distancing.

The other is that films and novels deal with ambiguity differently. It's harder to be ambiguous when you have to show things.

For instance (it's a long time since I read it but I think...) the first scene in the novel is a guy who thinks there are insects on him - and you think 'OK, smack-induced psychosis' and then he starts putting the insects in glass jars, and you think 'OK, he's taking this delusion a bit far' and then someone (is it Arctor?) comes and helps him, and they are both putting the insects in the jars. And, are the insects in some way real? Or is it a shared delusion? Or is the second guy playing along to make his friend feel better? or is he playing along because he's an undercover cop and he wants to ingratiate himself to the drug culture? To what extent are these readings compatible?

Now all of this ambiguity, which sort of foreshadows the rest of the book, can be packed into a text story without having to be resolved. But in a film you either have to show the insects, or show they are pantomiming the insects. At the very most you can switch between the two. It's not the same.

This is me whinging. I actually really look forward to the film, and I won't whine about it not being a novel when it comes out.
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