Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Crap Artists

Mes Amis

The Flick Filosopher has posted a short piece on the somewhat poor history of Hollywood's relationship to the work of Philip K Dick. And while she has me excited to see what she terms "the only geuinely faithful" adptation of PKD's books - Linklater's very cool looking version of A Scanner Darkly - she's really got a point when she notes that none of the other films puporting to be of Dick's work bear any resemblance to the source material.

Blade Runner is probably the best of the bunch. As a film its amazing, but Dick was never too happy about it (there's a great piece in The Shifting Realities of Philip K Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings* where Dick talks about the difficulties of translating the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep into a filmic language) and of course, it finally inverts the very premise of the book so completely that no matter how hard he tried in his "sequels" novelist KW Jeter could never quite align the schism between book and film, ending up more on the side of the movies than the novels.

The rest, as Filosopher Ms Johanssen points out, are more or less a litany of dissapointment. Total Recall is an Arnie film with a faint Dickian premise that is soon forgotten. Minority Report keeps trying but is ultimately ruined by a terrible ending and once more throws out the heart of the story in favour of more Hollywood-friendly ideals. I never saw Imposter. I'd love to see Confessions D'un Barjo** and, well, Paychek... um... it had Affleck in it and maybe that's all we should say.

The major problem is that while Dick's ideas often seem big enough to create Blockbusters from, the hearts of his stories are often personal and intimate. He was an expert at creating universal situation with deeply personal repercussions and this is something Hollywood cannot do. Because no longer are we allowed to create succesful and serious movies. And Dick's books, for all their weirdness, were serious books about serious issues.

Let's hope Linklater follows through on his promise and finally "gets" Dick. Because its about time someone did.

Au revoir


*Edited by Lawrence Sutin, Vintage Books, 1995

**This is a French Adaptation of his wonderful mainstream novel, "Confessions of a Crap Artist" which, if I recall, was the only one of the mainstream novels to be published during his lifetime.

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