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Philip K. Dick's Hollywood Afterlife 244

HarryLeBlanc writes "Wired has a long thoughtful article about Philip K Dick's posthumous Hollywood career. It has some interesting tidbits in it (imagine Total Recall directed by Cronenburg and starring William Hurt!), and does a good job of covering his Hollywood history (though it overlooks Barjo), and it doesn't gloss over how PKD would have hated what Hollywood has done to much of his work."
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Philip K. Dick's Hollywood Afterlife

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  • by lowdown722 ( 599810 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @10:54PM (#7545152)
    the magazine Hermenaut published a long, informative bio [] of Philip K. Dick that covers in more depth some of the aspects of his life touched on in this article (drug use, paranoia/schizophrenia, his place in writing and pop culture, etc.).
    • I would *really* like to see somebody do a faithful translation of "Ubik"
      • You mean you really want someone to alter reality in a way that the universe becomes conscious and really hate you? May be you just want people to put mind altering drugs in water to avoid having to go buy them :-)
        • ?

          No, I just really liked the story Ubik, and would like to see it made into a movie. The premise is very good, so I would like to see somebody retain some of the more interesting (and entertaining) parts.

    • ...and for what it's worth, Divine Invasions [] is the best Dick biography I've read; it covers his early desperate struggle to survive and make a living writing, his interest in Gnosticism, the strange 5-2-72 incident (in which he believed information about an illness his son was suffering, which was completely without symptoms, was communicated directly to him in a beam of light from some external entity or intelligence. He rushed the kid to hospital where after lots of tests they confirmed that said child w
  • by EverDense ( 575518 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @10:55PM (#7545157) Homepage
    They should make a movie out of "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep".
    Anyone second the motion?
    • Re:I've think... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Multiple Independent ( 722744 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:14PM (#7545227)

      Not that Blade Runner was a bad movie (it's one of my personal favorites), but it's not really a straightforward adaptation of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. It certainly borrows some themes -- the androids, the bounty hunters (not called "blade runners" anywhere in the novel), and the artificial animals -- but the characters, the world vision, and the story structure are all quite different. The book, for example, contains no hints that Deckard is an android [], and the film leaves out elements that were central to the novel -- Mercerism, Buster Friendly and his Friendly Friends, the pervasive radiation that made the world of Do Androids Dreams of Electric Sheep nearly uninhabitable, and probably some others that I'm forgetting.

      In short: a faithful adaptation of the book would look nothing like Blade Runner.

      • Re:I've think... (Score:3, Informative)

        by Paleomacus ( 666999 )
        The special edition of Blade Runner hint's that Deckard is an android.

        That's the only version I've ever seen...I was um...sort of a fetus when it was released.
        • Re:I've think... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mekkab ( 133181 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @12:12AM (#7545446) Homepage Journal
          nah, I never bought that. I thought the story is FAR more powerful if deckard is a human, but grossly lacking the emotional maturity of a replicant.
          • Thank you for "getting it". This is why the Director's Cut was true to Dick, while telling a slightly different story. Ironically, Dick's ending was more "Hollywood", in that it was uplifting and contained a tiny ray of hope for Deckard.
          • Re:I've think... (Score:4, Informative)

            by WatertonMan ( 550706 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @02:30AM (#7545997)
            I saw an interview (I think on the Indiana Jones DVDs) which had Harrison Ford saying that he was the one who fought against Deckard being "outed" as a replicant. Apparently he and Scott had a big fight about it. That's why it is in the director's cut and not the normal cut. I kind of wish there was a version on DVD with the original cut, voice over and all. I didn't remember it being that bad. But perhaps watching it as something other than a teenager would change that. (Hell - I just saw Strange Brew and it wasn't nearly as funny as I remembered it as a kid)
            • kind of wish there was a version on DVD with the original cut, voice over and all. I didn't remember it being that bad. But perhaps watching it as something other than a teenager would change that.

              Not necessarily. Many voice-overs were actually a piece of fine literature, like the final monologue "I don't know why he saved my life. Maybe in those last moments he loved life more than he ever had before. Not just his life, anybody's life, my life or the quote replicants were not supposed to have feelings
            • Not only it wasn't "that bad", it was way better that the "director's cut".
              I see this last version as little more that a grab for a few extra dollars.

              I saw the original version in the theatre (yes, I'm really old), and the voice-over was half the atmosphere.

              "But then again, who does"

      • Re:I've think... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by adrianbaugh ( 696007 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @12:01AM (#7545413) Homepage Journal
        The radiation isn't explicitly mentioned, but there's definitely something fucked up with the world in Blade Runner. The perpetual rain, the near-deserted apartment blocks, the desperation to get away to the off-world colonies.. Whether it's massive irradiation or just total climate failure, it's pretty clear that the world is an unpleasant place.
      • Re:I've think... (Score:2, Informative)

        by elmegil ( 12001 )
        Interestingly, PKD was very positive about the screenings he saw of the movie before his death. So faithful adaptation might not even be what the author wanted.
        • Re:I've think... (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Pope ( 17780 )
          It was in "Starlog" magazine. One of the last interviews PKD ever gave, and he talks enthusiastically about the parts of the movie he had seen up to that point, and how he thought that Ford was "just perfect" as Deckard.

          I bought the magazine when it came out because of the big cover story on "Big Trouble In Little China," but was subsequently blown away by the inclusion of the PKD interview, 3 years after his death. It was a nice surprise. Still have the damn thing too. :)
      • the bounty hunters (not called "blade runners" anywhere in the novel)

        I can't find it on Amazon or Google, but the title "Blade Runner" actually came from a sci-fi novel about underground doctors in a totalitarian world where control of health care had been co-opted into control of the population. I remember reading it some years ago, but now I can't remember the author. I did read somewhere that the film company had bought the book's title from the author to stick it onto the movie. Maybe some other /.

        • Alan E. Nourse. Underappreciated writer of so-called sf "juveniles" which frequently put his medical background to good use.

          You are correct about the premise of the book, too. Health care had been all but outlawed (at least aboveground) on the Darwinian premise that giving less-adapted people assistance in surviving simply made the whole population less fit to survive on the average.

          Human nature, of course, guaranteed that a black market health care system would spring up, and the titular character The
          • Alan E. Nourse. Underappreciated writer of so-called sf "juveniles" which frequently put his medical background to good use.
            That's it! Damn hard to find from the look of it. Amazon doesn't show a single hit.
    • Re:I've think... (Score:2, Informative)

      by suchire ( 638146 )
      Actually, IIRC, the shooting screenplay wasn't directly based on "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep." Ridley Scott took the then-current screenplay adaptation (like the 12th generation or something) of the story and gave it to another screenwriter. He told that one not to read Philip Dick's short story at all, only to adapt from the screenplay given him. This explains, of course, why there are so many huge changes from the short story.
      • It's a complete novel, not a short story. You obviously haven't read it.

        And might I suggest the entire business of the artificial animals does more than hint at some kind of radioactive calamity.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 23, 2003 @10:57PM (#7545167)

    Philip K. Dick was, especially in his later works (Valis, for example) strongly influenced by Gnosticism; the article fails to mention this, but there's an interesting essay exploring some of the connections here [], for those interested.

    (Unrelated, but still amusing, is this letter [] that he wrote to the FBI, accusing Stanislaw Lem of being a "composite committee". Fun stuff.)

  • by msgmonkey ( 599753 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:01PM (#7545181)
    The people who did the special effects for blade runner played him the begining sequence when it was done and he said it was just how he imagined the future when he wrote do andriods dream of electric sheep so atleast they got one thing right.
    • Blade Runner is in general an excellent movie, in a way totally unlike Total Recall, which I enjoyed just as much as BR, but in a completely different fashion. I bought blade runner before total recall. Oh and, that other total recall movie, total recall 2070, is so bad it makes the acting in the first season of Babylon 5 look like Keanu Reeves in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, which is to say, someone playing the role they were born to play. TR 2070 is more like janitors acting on the set they were bo
      • In defence of Total Recall 2070, that "movie" is just the first two episodes of the series welded together. I thought it was a bit cheesy at first, but continued watching anyway. It turned out that the series itself is really good as a whole, one of the best SciFi series I've seen. It has virtually nothing to do with the Arnie film, apart from the fact that there is a company called Rekall. It deals with some really interesting ideas to do with mind control, religion, androids, drug use, and all kinds of stuff in later episodes. It's a shame it got killed after one season, but at least the end ties up quite nicely.
  • by nan0 ( 620897 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:01PM (#7545182)
    it's been rumored for years that A Scanner Darkly has been in production - by the same team that did GATTACA. i've been looking quite forward to it, but seems to have gone the way of chris cunningham doing Neuromancer... vaporware...
    • I'm not sure how to feel about that. On one hand, I think A Scanner Darkly is one of the most incredible stories ever written, but on the other hand is the fact that movies often destroy or pervert the original meaning. If done right, I think the movie could be very powerful...not something to watch just for kicks, though.
      • movies ruin books is a common sentiment that i don't necessarily believe in: perhpas it's really just a matter of generational translation... and i DO believe that a good movie based on a good book will make more people *read the book* - hell even a bad movie may make more people read the book. so on the basic level, i think a movie is just a big ad for the book, and all ads suck by default. yet gattaca was awesome IMO - so if there's any existing team that could do it gracefully, it's them. IMO scanner d
      • Well, if you go and die before the movies are made, then you lose all right to bitch about them. That's just the way the world works. Of course if you leave a devoted fan base, they can bitch on your behalf. Of course most people will just write them off as whining geeks that have nothing better to do with their time.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Actually, I think Soderberg and Clooney snapped it up and handed it to Richard Linklater and Bob Sabiston, who together made "Waking Life", but I could be wrong. I had heard before that Charlie Kaufman, of "Adaptation" and "Being John Malkovich", was working on it.

      I also am not sure if I want to see this adapted for the screen, it is almost too good. They had better do a damn good job!
      • I had heard before that Charlie Kaufman, of "Adaptation" and "Being John Malkovich", was working on it.

        Both those movies have Phildickian tones ... absurb worlds, replicated identities, time-shifts between reality and imagination, the struggle of the little guy to both make a living and survive as an artist in the world of big business.

        I'm guessing Charlie Kaufman would turn in a stunning intepretation of Scanner Darkly.

  • by Red Pointy Tail ( 127601 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:05PM (#7545195)
    ... Dick articulated the concept in a 1977 speech in which he posited the existence of multiple realities overlapping the "matrix world" that most of us experience. Vanilla Sky, with its dizzying shifts between fantasy and fact, likewise ventures into a Dickian warp zone, as does Dark City, The Thirteenth Floor, and David Cronenberg's eXistenZ. Memento reprises Dick's memory obsession by focusing on a man whose attempts to avenge his wife's murder are complicated by his inability to remember anything. In The Truman Show, Jim Carrey discovers the life he's living is an illusion, an idea Dick developed in his 1959 novel Time Out of Joint. Next year, Carrey and Kate Winslet will play a couple who have their memories of each other erased in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Memory, paranoia, alternate realities: Dick's themes are everywhere.

    Much as Wired writers like to sensationalize everything nowadays, it is too much of a stretch to attribute all 'false realities' stories to Dick. Philosophers going back to Plato and Descartes have explored doubt of their external realities. They are certainly NOT Dick's themes.
    • by gilroy ( 155262 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:22PM (#7545259) Homepage Journal
      Blockquoth the poster:

      Philosophers going back to Plato and Descartes have explored doubt of their external realities. They are certainly NOT Dick's themes.

      I think that's being unfair. "The psychological effects and costs of ambition have been done since the Greeks -- they certainly are not Shakespeare's themes." Hmmm. Reads a bit off, doesn't it? The Wired author probably is a little breahtless (in Wired? Really?) But these are "Dick's themes" in that they are themes he explored exhaustively. While it would be hyperbole to trace all such stories back to Dick, it would be a disservice to pretend he has not had a major impact on stories with such themes. In fact, I do not believe it too gross an exaggeration to claim that he has more impact in this subgenre than any other single person.
    • by 1u3hr ( 530656 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:25PM (#7545264)
      Philosophers going back to Plato and Descartes have explored doubt of their external realities. They are certainly NOT Dick's themes.

      They cerainly were his themes. If you mean, "did he invent them", he didn't. But he used the ideas as the underpinnings of most of his fiction, and he was very influential not just on readers but on other writers as well as film makers in bringing these ideas into popular culture. As a 12-year old I didn't read much Descartes or Plato (and, I must admit, still haven't), but I did devour Dick's novels.

    • At least Vanilla Sky is very close to (some would say ripoff) Dick's Ubik. I would go into why, but it would be a spoiler for both the book and movie.

      Haven't seen several of the others, and haven't read all of Dick either, so I won't comment on them.

    • It is kinda funny that they mention Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind though, because the writer of that movie (Charlie Kaufman) also wrote a screenplay adaptation of A Scanner Darkly.
    • maybe :)
      but if anyone was a visionary in the 50's imho it was Dick.for all the bright utopia's we were promised both in sci-fi and reality philip k. dick's visions of the future are chillingly close.
      good sci-fi can take philosophical ideas to their extreme,to iluminate,and sometimes show the glaring weaknesses of those ideas.
      for me some of philip dicks more interesting works where those dealing with mental illness and physical handicaps and challenging common perception thereof.

      and all his interesting thou
    • by laird ( 2705 ) <lairdp AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 24, 2003 @12:57AM (#7545627) Journal
      "Much as Wired writers like to sensationalize everything nowadays, it is too much of a stretch to attribute all 'false realities' stories to Dick. Philosophers going back to Plato and Descartes have explored doubt of their external realities. They are certainly NOT Dick's themes."

      I think you're reading the sentence wrong -- the claim isn't that PKD "owns" the themes of paranoia, memory and alternate realities -- the claim is that paranoia, memory and alternate realities were the themes that underlay his writing. And it's also pretty obvious that PKD's work was a massive influence on writers that followed him. And given how obsessively he dwelt on those themes, even though he didn't invent them, they've become "his".

      As a side note, it left out Confessions d'un Barjo [].

      And just 'cause I can, a few cool PKD lines:

      "This was what happened to all the things that came out of the wet earth, out of the filthy slime and mold. All things that lived, big and little. They appeared, struggling out of the sticky wetness. And then, after a time, they died."

      "I mean, after all; you have to consider, we're only made out of dust. That's admittedly not much to go on and we shouldn't forget that. But even considering, I mean it's a sort of bad beginning, we're not doing to bad. So I personally have faith that even in this lousy situation we're faced with we can make it. You get me?"

      "Can we consider the universe real, and if so, in what way?"

      "I hear voices from another star. (I clocked it once, and reception is best between 3:00 A.M. and 4:45 A.M.). Of course, I don't usually tell people this when they ask, 'Say where do you get your ideas?' I just say I don't know. It's safer."

      "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, does not go away."

      "The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words."

      "Anything you think may be held against you."

      You get the idea...
      • My favourite PKD quote, taken from some notes for a speech he gave at a Canadian SF convention, is in my sig (in a somewhat shortened form, but the meaning of what he said is preserved.) Clear evidence that saturating your brain with vast quantities of mind-bending drugs *can* have a beneficial effect on the quality of your work - albeit at the price of rendering you paranoia-crippled, emotionally fscked up and generally A Bit Strange.

        (Note to wannabee authors: in the 40s, 50s and 60s many jazz musicians

  • by anon coward ( 113810 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:10PM (#7545213)
    A while back there here was a good interview with Tim Powers that shows PKD from a different perspective:

    "He was a great guy to hang around. If you just read his biographies, you could get the idea that he was just a doper visionary, a crazy man -- and if you just read the biographies, yes, that's the conclusion you'd come to -- but actually, he was totally sane and just the funniest guy you'd ever hope to met. Also the nicest guy. At a crowded party, if he saw some ill-at-ease person who didn't know anybody just kind of hanging by the punch bowl, he'd go over and strike up a conversation. He was always very unaffectedly interested in what you were doing."
  • X Minus 1 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:13PM (#7545220)
    Some of the PKD's best work appeared on the radio drama "X Minus 1". It was a Twilight Zone type radio drama which played for many years. There are mp3s of these shows floating around the net, maybe even on Kaaza. Worth the hunt.
    • Re:X Minus 1 (Score:2, Informative)

      by meeotch ( 524339 )
      Some googling gives:

      5-22-56 "The Defenders" (ep. 52)
      10-10-56 "Colony" (ep. 70)

      as the Dick episodes. I wonder if these are PD now? (Originally NBC, but I've seen some low-rent looking CD's for sale on the net.)


  • PkD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dTaylorSingletary ( 448723 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:16PM (#7545231) Homepage
    Phillip K. Dick has been one of my favorite authors for a long time now. My mind bends along the same tunnels he trodded. The pink light, the red curtains, the overlapping of realities.

    I hope that we can some day see his notes on the Owl in Daylight (the novel he never finished/or pretty much even began) because from what exists in his thought patterns in What if our world is their Heaven? -- it was to be a classic work.

    Valis is required reading, but it must come to someone at the right time. If at the wrong time they may never touch it again. Ubik would make a fantastic film, as would A Scanner Darkly.

    I had read awhile back that Richard Linklater was interested in doing an animated Scanner Darkly, and I think that would have worked out really well. Still, Soderberg would be able to pick up on the needed subtleties in that novel. George Clooney as Bob Arctor could definitley work out well.

    The Man in the High Castle also would make a great movie. Hollywood needs to focus on his novels. His short stories just barely scratched the surface of what he was trying to reveal. Perhaps that is why they have been used mostly to date, because they are more skeletal and can be mutated into a product easily.
    • by silentbozo ( 542534 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:30PM (#7545287) Journal
      The Man in the High Castle also would make a great movie. Hollywood needs to focus on his novels. His short stories just barely scratched the surface of what he was trying to reveal. Perhaps that is why they have been used mostly to date, because they are more skeletal and can be mutated into a product easily.

      This is true of not only PKD, but of all novels in general. It's much easier to take a short story and pad it out to a feature length movie, than to take an existing novel-length story, cut out everything that won't work visually (remember, movies are about showing, not telling), and then try and bandage what's left into a cohesive plot. Also consider that much of the richness of the novel will be lost, as we don't have the available screen time to follow everybody's POV, or to track multiple storylines and/or subplots. Pretty much as a rule, writers try and find a central theme in a novel, pick out a few characters and main events, keep the time and setting (sometimes - sometimes not in the event of The 13th Floor), and write everything else from scratch.

      Novella-sized stories, written in a cinematic style are easiest to translate to screen time, but even then, film being the collaborative medium it is, you got a lot of cooks, and a potentially spoiled broth...
  • Lost Highway (Score:2, Interesting)

    by YoungBonzi ( 692874 )
    David Lynch has a movie called Lost Highway that deals with multiple/parallel realities. I actually didn't understand it, does anyone here know what I'm talking about? I've watched it about 5 times and can't figure it out!
    • You're not meant to understand david lynch movies (or TV shows for that matter.) Just sit back, and let your brain go for a ride. It helps to be in a meditative state at the time.
    • Yeah, it's pretty easy. David Lynch is a lame filmmaker (with an admittedly amazing eye) who is given big checks to make movies by hollywood so that they can drag people into the mall who would otherwise be out looking for real art films. If you'd like to see what a real visionary can do with the same themes, watch any Jodorowsky [] film.

  • I did RTFA... (Score:3, Informative)

    by pq ( 42856 ) <rfc2324&yahoo,com> on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:38PM (#7545325) Homepage
    and now I want to see Paycheck.

    ...the bio lab, a rainforest of orchids and bromeliads and water lilies and trees reaching up to the ceiling, interspersed with catwalks and robot arms. This is Uma's domain. On the other side, behind an enormous door, is the computer lab Ben is about to disappear into. When he emerges, three years later, it will be with his memory wiped. But on his way in, he captures Uma's attention. Mischievously, she hits him with a blast of air almost strong enough to bowl him over. "I give up! I give up!" he cries, slicking back his hair. In a flash a robot arm swings in front of him, halting an inch or two from his face. In its pincers, a yellow orchid.

    "Don't give up," Uma says softly.

    Hmmm. How come I haven't seen any previews for this? It's a great article, BTW: the table at the end is hilarious. For Minority Report, which grossed $132 million, Dick got $130. That's it. I'll refrain from the obvious "he got dick" joke...

    • Re:I did RTFA... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kalidasa ( 577403 ) *

      I saw a preview for this as a trailer at Revolutions. It looks interesting, but I'm nervous about Dick stories becoming films. Total Recall was completely unDickian in tone and style; Imposter was closer, but lacked the kind of paranoid tension that would have given the movie meaning.

      Three ideal PKD books/stories to make movies of: 1. Electric Ant, 2. The Unteleported Man, 3. the most obvious of all, The Man in the High Tower.

  • a good, fictitious, interview interview with Philip K Dick []
  • by limekiller4 ( 451497 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:43PM (#7545338) Homepage
    I don't know how PKD felt about Total Recall, but according to the documentary On The Edge Of Blade Runner:

    Philip K. Dick was reasonably unhappy. Katie Haber gave me a call and said, "put together the best of the best in a reel," and was left to me to go in with a few of my key people and [Dick] and his friend go down and sit in the screening room and uh ...and he said very little and I said, "Roll it." And it went dark. The ten minutes of optical takes ran, the lights came up, Philip turned around, looked me right in the eyes and he says, "How is this possible? I don't understand this." He says, "This feels exactly like what I had in my head when I was writing it. How does this happen?" At that moment it was probably the best moment in my career because I said (making fist), "We nailed it."

    - David Dryer, Visual Effects Supervisor ("Blade Runner")
  • by Multiple Independent ( 722744 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:49PM (#7545360)

    I recently ran across two [] articles [] about the strong links between creativity and insanity, and thought them relevant to any discussion of PKD -- his methamphetamine abuse left him more or less permanently schizophrenic, but the quality of his work did not suffer: quite the contrary.

  • by FunWithHeadlines ( 644929 ) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:54PM (#7545384) Homepage
    "In a 1978 essay he wrote: "We live in a society in which spurious realities are manufactured by the media, by governments, by big corporations, by religious groups, political groups. I ask, in my writing, What is real? Because unceasingly we are bombarded with pseudorealities manufactured by very sophisticated people using very sophisticated electronic mechanisms. "

    Doesn't this just ring true? We see politicians create anti-spam bills that will create more spam, help Medicare bills that will gut Medicare, Clean Air Acts designed to allow our air to get dirtier, acts to "save" the forests by cutting down the trees. We see propaganda from foreign news sources, and, sadly, from our own. We see commercials that say one thing while we know reality is the opposite. We "see" things on football fields and behind baseball diamonds that are not actually at the stadiums. We see Times Square electronically made over in order to insert a billboard that is not there in real life. We see Wall Street promising to get tough on corporate crime, while analysts give buy ratings to SCO.

    We live a PKD existence! That's why his story themes resonate so strongly with us. We recognize it. Every day.

    • Do you want to know what PKD's themes are?

      His themes are everywhere, they are all around us, even now on this very blog. You can see them when you look out your window, or when you turn on you television. You can feel them when you go to work, and when you go to church or pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth!

    An d check out the rest of the (new) site, too.
  • by NortWind ( 575520 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @12:17AM (#7545469)
    GO to the chart at the bottom of the article. The movies BLADE RUNNER (1982), SCREAMERS (1996), IMPOSTOR (2002), MINORITY REPORT (2002) had a total gross of over $170,000,000.
    PKD got paid under $2,000 for all these combined. That's a 0.001% slice of the gross!
  • by laird ( 2705 ) <lairdp AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 24, 2003 @12:39AM (#7545565) Journal
    I just want to thank the author of the article for mentioning the lesser known movies based on PKD's works (Screamers and Imposter) -- I'm a huge PKD fan, and now I've got a few interesting movies to go rent. I recommend reading all of PKD's short stories. They've been collected into a series of four books, and you can read through them all in a few weeks. And those weeks will be really odd, enlightening weeks. They'll mess with your mind, and cleanse your soul. Go to Amazon and search for "Collected Stories of Philip K. Dick" [].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:33AM (#7545808)
    Dick has been quoted as saying "I love Blade Runner; it has nothing to do with my story, but it's a great movie." The director's cut certainly took the mindbending part correctly.

    We'll Rember it for you Wholesale (Total Recall) ended with a joke. The Mars trip was never in doubt. As different from the source as any Paul Verhoeven film.

    Minority Report took things in the right direction for the first 2/3rds. But that stupid "echo murder" crap leading upto the happy ending bit it.

    Paycheck is a sacriledge. The short story didn't have action, it was a man thinking his way out of tense situations in a police state as he tries to unravel the mystery of his past from a few bizarre clues. John Woo hasn't made single good flick in the US.

    Through a Scanner Darkly is a dark movie about drug abuse, insanity, and a cartell conspiracy involving a Synanon like organization. No way in hell is that going to be produced correctly.

    The King of The Elves is about an old farmer who kills his friend of decades because some elves show him that he's the king of ogres. You never are sure at the end whether the elves were real or not. Now way is that going to survive Disney.

    They might make something out of Time Out of Joint.

    Haven't seen Screamers but I hear it's an okay adaption of "The Second Variety".

    Oh yeah, my point. Good stuff is getting washed with mud. That article sucked.
    • by pamar ( 538061 ) <marino@i[ ] ['nre' in gap]> on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:37AM (#7546383) Homepage
      Minority Report took things in the right direction for the first 2/3rds. But that stupid "echo murder" crap leading upto the happy ending bit it.
      About the "happy ending" part you cite...

      SPOILER SPACE follows

      Someone noted that the parts *after* the main lead "imprisonment" could just be manufactured hallucinations. In a previous sequence, one of the pre-crime squad gives an off-hand remark about the fact that when you are in the "punitive coma" you sleep whatever reality you want.
      So everything we see after Cruise's character is captured could be his dream of how things should go, not necessarily reality itself.
      This would explain the improbable ending and be quite faithful to Dick's ideas, even if the director does not clearly states how things "really are".
    • Screamers was indeed a decent adaptation of Second Variety.

      The ending got shredded and turned "Hollywood", but overall, it had more of the original in it than any other adaptation of his work that I've seen.
    • Minority Report took things in the right direction for the first 2/3rds. But that stupid "echo murder" crap leading upto the happy ending bit it.

      The ending is actually ambiguous. In the middle of the story we hear that the culprits put under the "halo" have pleasant dreams. Everything that happens after Tom Cruise receives his halo can be such a dream! What really happened is your choice as a viewer - there is no actual hint into any direction. I'd say it's as phildickian as it gets!
    • I didn't think Screamers was all that good. Frankly, I think there's enough material in there to make for another film that would be faithful to "The Second Variety" and be completely different from "Screamers."

      Unfortunately, I think the tendency is to take PKD's ideas and pump them full of action, which has worked out fairly well in the past, but I'd like to see just one PKD story interpreted in the kind of quiet, thoughtful way that his stories are presented.

      GATTACA has proven that science fiction can b
  • My peverse hobby... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hlee ( 518174 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @01:34AM (#7545809)
    I've long held an interest of reading accounts of what (extraordinary) schizophrenics go through in their own worlds in their own words. IMO PKD's Valis and Pirsig's Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance are seminal works in this peculiar field. So far, his writings that have been turned into film really just skim upon his twisted view of reality.

    Valis has creativity that makes you gasp (well, me anyway): there's a great discourse between Dr. Stone and Horselover Fat that should be mandatory instruction for anyone working in mental health. Horselover Fat is the alter-ego of Philip K Dick. You'd have to read the book to find out why he's such an odd name...
    • I completely agree. I think the third book in the Valis trilogy, 'The Transmigration of Bishop Timothy Archer' is also one of the more amazing books about dealing with insanity from the outside. If you can find the collected version of the Valis trilogy, it's worth buying. It's out of print, but the introduction by Kim Stanley Robinson makes it worth the search. It talks a lot about Dick's relationship with his own struggles with mental illness and how it affected his writing and personal relationships.

  • Dumbing Down Dick (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dandelion_wine ( 625330 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @02:18AM (#7545955) Journal
    Affleck: "To anybody who's ever thought, Did that happen or did I dream it? - you'd have to have a PhD in philosophy to get too deep into this, but it has to do with wanting to validate our own first-person experience."

    This is what writers like Dick are up against -- an audience (and even actors in movies based on his works!) that thinks a doctorate is needed to look beneath the veneer. But then, if the Hollywood versions bring more readers to the original works...
  • by fruey ( 563914 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @05:39AM (#7546386) Homepage Journal

    I'm just re-reading a French translation book titled "Blade Runner", but from the original "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep". It has references to "Blade Runners" in it, I'm beginning to wonder how bastardized the translation is. The rest of the book so far (only read about 30 pages on the way in to work this morning) is far enough away from the movie plot, and I read it about 8 years ago and it certainly seems to resemble DADoES. Can anyone shed some light on this?

    Also, the more I read about PK Dick, the more I feel that he was ahead of his time. "Time Out of Joint" which I have also recently read in French (living in Paris means the best book bargains are in the local language... I'd love to pick up cheap English originals) was written in the 1950s IIRC, and yet it's as if it could have been written yesterday. Sure, the occasional reference to technology which sounds a little out of date does happen, but for the mind that's really easy to step over, because everything else just fits. Sure, it is paranoid, but when you question everything you see on TV about politics these days, you ask yourself what influence one guy (Bush, Blair, whatever) really has over the thousands of people who are really employed in making policy. Indeed, the influence those thousands have on the leader figure is what we should be more worried about.

    In England, where we only have a population of 60 million, it's perhaps less flagrant than in the US, but somewhere along the line we are all many steps removed from any policy decisions, we mostly get to say yes or no about once every 4 years and most of us don't even vote in local elections. Michael Moore had a point when he said running for election in small-fry local posts is enough to get in sometimes. Don't bother pointing out the holes and contradictions in some of his other lefty liberal stuff though, I'm well aware of those. I digress.

    The point with PK Dick's writing, at least that of it which I have read, is that the individual is studied much more than the collective. The paranoia inherent in a lot of the work is because the stuff is so based on an individuals attempt to understand reality. It's almost a solipsistic nightmare sometimes. Art can really start to get somewhere with our current malaise. Because the way we think and interpret is what really matters for us as individual human beings. And our current malaise is just that: faced with an increasing access to all sorts of societies, individuals, and cultures, our biggest problem is first how to situate ourselves. No longer (or rarely) do we live in smaller, closer-knit communities, but rather in almost separate little units - which do not interconnect based on local geography but rather along interest based lines and public gatherings...

    When we start automatically watering down a lowest common denominator for mass marketing... we're really pulling away from what Dick's writing does to us, in making us look at our own individual reaction to current society and current social groups. The feeling you have after the cited movies are just reflections in a distorted mirror of the feelings that are conveyed when you read the books.

    I know that to have mass appeal, a movie should respect a certain number of things which are the antithesis of what real film art is about, but raising the bar a little would gradually educate the filmgoing public - indeed there are literally millions of us who would really go after a less "clean cut happy ending experience". The global market is there now, you don't have to market to the whole of ABC1 audience in suburban midtown multiplexes.

    I wish that some independent film maker could fix up to do a truer adaptation of a PKD short story, and really leave it hanging at the end. Just the other day I saw Intolerable Cruelty, and couldn't help thinking that the happy ending was tacked on in order to pass some kind of Hollywood audience standard. Cut the movie about 10 minutes earlier, where the roles suddenly reverse in favour of the character played by

  • I thought Impostor was sadly underrated - where I felt it went wrong was that they inserted an unnecesary 1/2 hour's worth of Minority Report chase sequences. If they'd cropped it down to the lengths of say an Outer Limits episode, it would have been fantastic. As it was, it was still pretty good - the ending especially hit like a sledgehammer.
  • Hollywood and Dick's view of life are completely opposite. I find interesting that dream factories such as the studios are attracted to the writing of someone questioning the nature of perception. But the concept of an "happy end" is completely foreign to Dick. Most of his novels leave the main questions completely open (is the main character dead or alive in Ubik ?) and that's why I like these books: it's unsettling, it makes you think.

    Hollywood is not ready for this: what if Minority Report ended on th

  • Was it all just a hallucination? Here's a clue.

    In the scene where Arnold is strapped in for his initial simulated vacation one of the technicians makes an offhand remark about the program disc:

    " 'Blue Skies on Mars'? That's a new one. "

    So it was a wholesale hallucination after all.
  • Offhand, I think it would be more fun to see William Hurt play Capt. James Tiberias Kirk in a new remake of Star Trek Classic. Can't think of anyone else more capable of Shatnering the role.
  • It seems to me that Philip K. Dick was sort of science fiction's anti-George Lucas. Dick's stories got better as he got older. He wasn't satisfied with looking at the surface of reality, he wanted to dig deeper. He never got rich, so he never had a chance to have his creativity ruined by a lot of money. Hollywood was only starting to catch on to his ideas when he died, so his ego never became a bloated gas-bag, ruined by fame. I think if Phil Dick and George Lucas had ever met in real life, they would
  • "This is a part I went after really aggressively," says Affleck. "I've always been a fan of Philip K. Dick, both his writings and the movie adaptations...."

    Man, if you can say you're a fan of his writings and the movie adaptations with a straight face, you're obviously a couple beers short of a six-pack. How anybody could claim that Total Recall is a 'big-budget movie for smart people' is beyond me.

    See, the thing is, PKD wanted to pry at the surface of manufactured reality and peel away the layers. Holly
  • by MEK ( 71818 ) on Monday November 24, 2003 @12:19PM (#7548298)
    ...was made long before he died -- on a shoe-string budget -- in France -- and was not based on a particualr story, but on a Dick-esque fantasy of which a PKD look-alike was a key character. "Paris nous appartient" (Paris Belongs to Us) was filmed by Jacques Rivette in the late 50s and finally released in 1960. (This was shot on donated scraps of film, with "volunteer actors" -- on a catch as catch can basis). The film involves a young woman who gets ensnared in the paranoid fantasises (about a worldwide conspiracy) of an American expatriate writer -- named "Phil Kaufman".

    As far as I know, Rivette has never explicitly acknowledged that "Paris nou s appartient" was inspired by Dick's stories -- or that "Phil Kaufman" was a fantasized si8mulacra of Dick himself. Nonetheless, Dick's stories were already known to the avant-garde in France by the late 50s, and Rivette has expressed his admiration for P.K. Dick over the years.

    No big-budget Hollywood-esque extravaganza has ever caught the essential spirit of PKD's universe (almost clairvoyantly -- the universe of PKD that wasn't fully manifested until his sad last days) as well as this early no-budget film of Jacques Rivette. (Many later Rivette films show more indebtedness to PKD for their tone and atmosphere than to Rivette's Hollywood directorial idols).


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