Book to Film: A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick

8 Jun
Movie poster via the Imp Awards

Movie poster via the Imp Awards

I recently read A Scanner Darkly and then had a mini book club talk about it with my husband and a friend. I liked it a bit, but I wasn’t crazy about it. Of course. this was followed by seeing the movie!

Things I Thought Were Awesome

Animation overlay. I watched the special effects documentary at the end so I know what a pain this was for the animators, but I think it was worth it. Being able to see the scramble suits was awesome and I’m not sure how that could have been done with live action. But on top of that, it gave us the sense of Bob imagining things and seeing them change that isn’t possible with live action. There’s no way to turn one woman’s face into another or morph a friend into a giant insect seamlessly. The animation made it all work.

Robert Downey Jr. I had a hard time imaging Barris’ personality or mannerisms when reading the book. How is this person both cocky and right all the time and so incredibly drugged out? Well, he’s basically Iron Man on drugs or Robert Downey Jr. The casting was genius and Downey did a great job.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Seeing Feck at New Path. In the book, there wasn’t a lot of closure around if Feck successfully killed himself or sort of disappeared from the narrative. Seeing him at the rehab center gave his character more closure than he had in the book.

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Bob’s decline. The book showed stages of decline as Bob’s quick decline became worse. Fred didn’t realize he was Bob or wouldn’t realize why Bob was doing something even though the same physical person was doing the things. The movie accelerated this decline to a point where it didn’t seem believable. He went from coherent to passing out in a day. There was no in between.

The German. Somewhat related to the above point, the missing interrupting German was a big change from the book. Adding in thoughts in a different language made it obvious that Bob was losing his grasp of reality and though this phenomenon was mentioned in the movie, Bob never experienced it.

Things That Changed Too Much

The Hank Reveal. I’m actually mad about this one. During my book club discussion, my husband said he thought Donna was Hank and we all had a big moment of, “OH MY GOSH!” We thought we’d figured out the whole book and were so smart. And then we saw the movie and they took our genius moment and made it part of the plot. Did we miss something and this was in the book, or did the screenwriters add it because they had the same idea as us? I’m a bit peeved.

Barris coming to the cops at the beginning. I think this changed how you looked at Barris all along. Instead of looking at him like a crazy person who was suspicious of Bob, you looked at him as someone to be suspicious of from the get-go. I didn’t like this view of him.

Overall Reactions

Artistically beautiful and much of the plot was well maintained. The characters were well brought to life and the story was very vivid. It was a good movie adaptation.

To anyone else who has seen or read this, what did I miss? Anything you would add to my lists?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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One Response to “Book to Film: A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick”

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  1. From The Homeopape — For The Week Ending 06/14/2015 « From The Homeopape « Philip K. Dick Fan Site - June 26, 2015

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