A Scanner Darkly (2006)

Mitch Baker, Melody Chase, Dameon Clarke, Rory Cochrane, Jack Cruz, Jason Douglas, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, Heather Kafka, Marco Perella, Leila Plummer, Steven Prince, Angela Rawna, Keanu Reeves, Christopher Ryan, Christopher Ryan, Winona Ryder, Eliza Stevens, Rommel Sulit
Director: Richard Linklater

U.S. Opening Date: T.B.A. 2006


It’s Keanu Reeves in one of author Philip K. Dick’s greatest novels. Whoa!

Even though Philip K. Dick’s work inspired some of the best-known and most beloved sci-fi movies such as Blade Runner, Minority Report and Total Recall, the truth is that the true Dick-ian (don’t snigger you!) movie reflecting the author’s metaphysical obsession with what reality is and what makes one human has yet to be made.

A Scanner Darkly might just be that movie.

For starters, it is based on one of Dick’s best works, one informed by his own painful experiences in the drug culture of California in the 1970s. It neatly balances Dick’s own autobiographical experiences, the narrative’s plot requirements and infuses it with his customary black humour. Yes, despite its bleak subject matter it is also quite funny.

Secondly, it is directed by one of the more interesting directors working in Hollywood right now, namely Richard Linklater. Okay, Linklater flirted with the Dark Side when he directed Jack Black in the insipid School of Rock, but Linklater’s general filmography points towards more interesting and less mainstream fare: Dazed and Confused (1993), Before Sunrise (1995), Waking Life (2001) and Before Sunset (2004).

A Scanner Darkly would be filmed in the same as Linklater’s Waking Life: first as live action and then with animation imposed over it. This might come to bad news for those audience members who reached for their Dramamine as the wave-y animation effects caused more seasickness than The Blair Witch Project or the latest Michael Bay movie. This is might not be such a novel approach anymore, but still interesting and original enough in Hollywood terms.

Hopes are high on this one: it may not be the new Matrix at the box office, but just might appease even the most rabid Dickhead (dedicated fans of Philip K. Dick) . . . especially after the disappointing likes of Impostor and Paycheck, which were also based on the author’s material . . .

Note: The movie also stars Robert Downey Jr. and with that actor’s drug-related history A Scanner Darkly would probably seem autobiographical then . . .

Other PKD novels for the aspiring Dickhead to check out: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sleep?, Martian Time Slip, Ubik, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Valis, The Man in the High Castle, The Divine Invasion, Flow My Tears the Policeman Said and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer.





Set in a future world where America has lost the war on drugs, undercover cop Fred (Keanu Reeves) is one of many agents hooked on the popular drug Substance D, which causes its users to develop split personalities. Fred, for instance, is also Bob, a notorious drug dealer. Along with his superior officers, Fred sets up an elaborate scheme to catch Bob and tear down his operation.

Some sources:


  • Charlie Kaufman wrote a screenplay adaptation of the novel. When the project changed hands, Kaufman's script was no longer involved.

Some sources:

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