A Scanner Darkly (2006) is a English movie. Richard Linklater has directed this movie. Keanu Reeves,Winona Ryder,Robert Downey Jr.,Rory Cochrane are the starring of this movie. It was released in 2006. A Scanner Darkly (2006) is considered one of the best Animation,Crime,Drama,Mystery,Sci-Fi,Thriller movie in India and around the world.
In a totalitarian society in a near future, the undercover detective Bob Arctor is working with a small time group of drug users trying to reach the big distributors of a brain-damaging drug called Substance D. His assignment is promoted by the recovery center New Path Corporation, and when Bob begins to lose his own identity and have schizophrenic behavior, he is submitted to tests to check his mental conditions.
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When someone on a trip starts to wig out, you take them someplace quiet and talk soothingly and assure them that everything's going to be OK. But as the tagline of this film makes clear, for these characters everything is most definitely NOT going to be OK. For those who haven't read the book, it's important to know what you're getting into. PK Dick wrote this novel as a way of telling the story of how he and his friends in the early '70s damaged and destroyed themselves with drugs. He tells this story within the framework of a surreal science fiction thriller, but many of the scenes are straight from his own experiences with the unpleasant consequences of people using drugs and disintegrating mentally. This film does an amazing job of capturing the feel and tone of the book as well as the paranoia, perceptual distortions, and chaos of hallucinogenic overindulgence. Add to that a story that only gradually emerges from the madness, but by the end brings in a lot of heavy ideas such as the existence of free will, whether ends justify means, etc. There is a sense of consequence to what happens in the film, a sense of despair at what has been lost. So this story of drug-addled losers becomes the story of the human struggle for identity and meaning. I have a couple of minor quibbles regarding scenes from the book that only partially made the cut (no explanation for the significance of "If I'd known it was harmless I would have killed it myself, no little kid to explain how 6 and 3 gears means 18 speeds). Still, most adaptations of PK Dick stories take a few basic ideas and try to shape them into more conventional films that fit into established genres. Even when it works, such as with Blade Runner or Total Recall, it's not really PK Dick. Not so this film. This is PK in all his dark and perverse and deeply thoughtful glory.
Thanks to Rick Linklater and the Dick family for allowing a Scanner Darkly to re-envision Philip K. Dick's great novel without straying from its central themes and story line. Good film adaptations of literature are very often collaborative efforts between two or more artists - the writer and the director (and sometimes her/his production team). Make no mistake - A Scanner Darkly IS one of these collaborations - it is definitely a Linklater film - from the spare but very effective and hypnotic Graham Reynolds sound track to the disturbing but mesmerizing holosuit scenes and the pseudo-philosophical paranoiac banter between Harrelson and Downey's characters. In fact, I remember the last time I read Dick's novel - around the time I heard Linklater was directing this film - thinking that some of the scenes in the book could be lost in Linklater's wonderful film "Slacker". Linklater and Dick are a perfect match. The story is about a deep-cover narcotics officer (Reeves) who is in danger of becoming one of his own targets, since he has become addicted to a very popular and addictive hallucinogen - Substance D (AKA "Death") The cast is all very good, and extremely well suited for their characters. But here again, we are seeing Linklater's interpretation of the novel. He saw the comedic potential for the Barris character and played it up by giving the role to Downey and presenting Harrelson as a combination of loyal side-kick and straight-man to Downey's sometimes overpowering Barris. What the story is really about is the culture of recreational drug use and addiction. Its portrayal of this is on target, and though the subject is treated with some sympathy, the contradictory messages, denials, and complex rationalizations permeating that culture also come through powerfully. In this manner, the film nails the book spot-on. Reeves is perfectly cast as Arctur. His subtle and somewhat detached style is exactly what was needed for this complex and sympathetic character. And although some have stated that he was "blown off the screen by Downey and Harrelson" I couldn't agree less. Downey is louder and more domineering, yes, but Arctur is not a loud, ultra-dynamic, paranoid, and could not be played in a way which could compete with Downey's character. Although I believe Winona Rider to be very talented, I had my doubts about her in the role of Donna - one of my favorite characters in Dick's novel. However, once again, Winona exceeded my expectations. I have never seen a bad performance out of her. This is great casting, period. While these are not criticisms, I feel obligated to make a couple of comments comparing the book and the film. First, the film is not really as dark and disturbing as the book. I can not explain why in this review - you will have to see it to understand why I say this. Second, I was very slightly disappointed by the reduced role of Donna in this film. Third - though some have commented that the film was hard to follow and that they felt they could only really get it if they read the book - I can only say that this is probably intentional. Yes, many of Linklater's films are non-linear and can be hard to follow for those who expect to have things explained to them. Linklater is, if nothing else, an artist and doesn't seem very interested in linearity or explanation. And the original work by Dick is no less ambiguous. In fact it is, in my opinion, more ambiguous. This film does a great job of bringing to the screen one of the most intelligent and emotional works of science fiction ever written. My thanks to all involved.
I've never written a review on this site before, but since I've just been at the first screening of this movie at Brandeis, I feel like writing a few comments. First of all, visually this movie is incredible. The roto-scoping is a vast improvement over Waking Life (and that's on a crappy screen with the film only 95% completed.) Despite the overall dark nature of the film, the dialogue is at times hilarious, and at the screening the audience erupted into laughter several times. Now, on to the story itself. I never read the Phillip K. Dick novel, but from what I could tell, the movie stays faithful. This is not a popcorn thriller; like I said, it is very dark. As the producer Erwin Stoff said after the showing, the movie reflects the bad experiences Dick had with drugs during his life. Apparently the producers bought the rights to the book from Dick's daughters at a reduced rate because they promised to be faithful to his vision, and I could definitely see the effort that was put in in order to accomplish that. Overall, I enjoyed this movie very much. Admittedly, it was hard to follow at times. But, as with the other Linklater films that I have seen, A Scanner Darkly is worth seeing for the interesting dialogue, esoteric characters (especially Robert Downey Jr and Woody Harrelson, who provide many of the films laughs), and stunning visuals. It is not a plot-driven movie at all; the story as described in the IMDb summary, which is more or less accurate, is just a framework from which to express Dick's stark and angry vision of the ravages of drugs on society. Those seeking visceral excitement will be disappointed, but those looking for an intelligent, bleakly funny, dream-like, thought provoking experience that is incredibly grim yet not entirely hopeless, will be rewarded. A Scanner Darkly is definitely not for everybody, because its pacing and animation style are not mainstream(the same is true of its release schedule: only 4 theaters on July 7, 8 the next week, and so on). However, for fans of Linklater and/or Dick, this is no doubt a must see, and you should mark July 7th on your calendar.
Hollywood has tried so many times to capture the feel of Philip K. Dick terms of his style and writing. Films like Total Recall, Paycheck, Minority Report, all were playing to the lowest common denominator and really lost a lot of the feel that Dick conveys in his writing. Blade Runner came close, but it still missed the essential darkness that Dick brings to each and every one of his works. Enter "A Scanner Darkly", aside from the Interpolative Rotoscoping that the film maker used to put the graphical images of this movie together and give it an amazing visual feel all its own, the vision and imagery conveyed by the film are as true to Dick's original as any movie has come. I left the theater feeling overwhelmed, touched, and changed, much the same way as when I'd finished the book. This is rare, and it is decidedly a beautiful thing.
It's not very often that Phillip K. Dick's writings get adapted well on to the screen. Films like Paycheck and Impostor might have there moments, but there is much lacking where high-tech action scenes and dreary direction replaces more of the thought in his work. Richard Linklater's A Scanner Darkly, however, could be part of that handful of films (the others Scott's Blade Runner and Spielberg's Minority Report) that do justice to his sensibilities as both a science-fiction spinner and social satirist. The technique he uses to add some imagination is, at first assumption, interesting but a little outdated. Rotoscoping the live action with animation has been done since the late 70's, and Linklater himself used it for maybe his most philosophically complex film Waking Life. Here though the same technique he used before is put into a narrative that, compared to Waking Life, is non-linear to the point that it is very faithful to Dick's work. But there's more than meets the eye, literally, to what Linklater is doing with his technique. It really does fit the mood of the film, one where to abscond is almost second nature, but the control over thought and the similarly powerful self-destruction comes at high prices for decent people. To discuss the story would have to involve much explanation of the characters, who they may (or may not as case is) be, and how drugs make up the integral, damned environment. Keanu Reeves is in one of his best performances, arguably, as Bob Arcter, apart of dealing what is called Substance-D, a very detrimental narcotic that sooner or later starts to play serious tricks on a person's mind (left brain vs. right brain is in many scenes). But Reeves is also Officer Fred, who has been assigned to infiltrate a group of addicts who might lead him and his police force into the higher networks of drug distribution. Those around him in his "undercover" state are James Barris (Robert Downey Jr), Ernie Luckman (Woody Harrelson), Charles Freck (Rory Chochrane), and in one of the most crucial parts to the story Donna (Winona Ryder, quite a good comeback part). The theme of dehumanization around such technologies as a scanner in this film, where Fred/Arctor takes footage from the dingy home he usually hangs out in, are also akin to other pieces of Dick's work. I'm reminded of the tragedy in Minority Report of the cop who gets hooked on an illegal drug, and for what purpose in that story is made quite clear. In A Scanner Darkly, however, the lines of morality are never totally clear, and the ambiguity goes along as little pieces start to fit together. While I might hold it as being one of the great Philip K. Dick adaptations, it's not to say that it is quite different from the others; this is not too far removed from what Linklater's style of dialog. To be sure to not please all in the sci-fi crowd, it's actually closer to being another of Linklater's 'in-the-now' stories of characters who talk, and talk some more, and it forces one to pay attention as opposed to having the dialog go light for more action. Downey Jr., who delivers one of the best supporting turns of the year, maybe has the most words to speak, as he's a character with few real morals but almost too much on his mind. And him along with Harrelson's character help define some of the pressing facts that go into looking at drugs in a movie. There's real paranoia, real mis-trust, a shifting of cognizance that becomes startling. One scene in particular, when Reeves is in bed with a woman and can't figure on if she is really SHE or not, and then goes over in in video, is an excellent take on the depths to which Substance-D- fictional for the film's sake but related to many real substances- and how the style connects very much so to the substance (no pun intended) in the film. The style itself, provided by the animation directors, gives some immediate fascinations for the viewer. The whole idea of a character putting on a suit and being able to shift around faces and clothing at a second a clip provides such catching beats each time. The variations in certain scenes work very much as well. And there are more than a few instances where the style of rotoscoping itself, which makes the film seem immediately like a 'take drugs and watch this movie', is called into question. One might then ask before going into A Scanner Darkly, where the control of products that act as controls &/or inhibitors, is anti-drug or pro-drug. That I cannot quite, completely answer, though I might lean more to the former. Linklater, not just Dick, has several potent questions among others that may fizzle that are posed into the film, especially towards the last ten minutes. And what is even more surprising, and closer to being a relief, is that the film isn't even too preachy either. In fact, I was laughing through scenes in the middle bulk of the film, as Downey and Harrelson's characters made for some very sharp, witty lines and odd actions. In short, it's got a different, 'quirky' artistry that combines some very good cinematography with so much that is tested with colors and shading and tones on the actors and settings that I will have to watch it again to take it all in. And the actors, more often than not, are completely fit in their roles, even when they suddenly reveal that all is not as it seems (I loved some of the twists that pop up). A cool premise and a superb use of abstractions as reality in the midst of the darkest satire of the year.