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96 | Richard Linklater Little Blue Flowers and Echoes from the Slaughterhouse The test is simple: in one hand, a toy elephant; in the other, an identical toy elephant. The man must confirm, while not looking, only feeling, that in each hand he holds the same object. But he cannot pass the test. Try as he might, his mind is already much too far gone to make this basic connection. In the summer of 2006, audiences would follow the man, Bob Arctor, as he attempted in vain to identify the replicas of a species from another continent, in Linklater’s next release, A Scanner Darkly. A digitally animated retelling of Philip K. Dick’s novel, Scanner had begun years earlier, though it had not been Linklater’s first choice among the author’s work; the director had initially been interested in Ubik but had been unable to secure the rights. Then, in late 2001, Stephen Soderbergh and George Clooney’s company, Section Eight, optioned Scanner for Linklater, so that he could set about producing a screenplay (Macaulay). The project would not pick up momentum again until 2004, when Keanu Reeves was officially cast in the role of Arctor; from that point, interest quickly built again, other actors coming aboard while two key members of the Waking Life team, Tommy Pallotta and Bob Sabiston, also committed . Shooting began in May of that year and wrapped six weeks later, after which time the filmmakers cut together a version that the animators could use for visual reference, much as they did with Waking Life. At this point, however, the production ran into problems. The animation process took much longer than expected, so much so that Sabiston, creator of the technology, was replaced as head of animation, and the original release date was pushed back from September 2005 to July 2006 (La Franco). When Warner Independent released the film that summer, its box-office performance was disappointing, though several critics took great interest in the film’s use of digital rotoscoping. Whatever reasons accounted for its drawing or deflecting audiences, A Scanner Darkly remains a fascinating part of Linklater’s oeuvre, its admiration for its novel and novelist apparent in its closely followed narrative, similarly rendered characterizations, uncannily congruent visual and aural style, and, most fleetingly if not also most directly, Dick’s image interpolated briefly into one of the earliest appearances of the scramble suit. Time Is a Lie | 97 As a Philip K. Dick adaptation, Scanner presents a special case. For all of its science-fiction trappings, the novel is one of Dick’s most autobiographical , a collection of anecdotes drawn from his time at 707 Hacienda Way in San Rafael, California, after his wife, Nancy, had left him in September 1970, but set in Orange County, where he would eventually land in 1972, after the Hacienda Way home had been foreclosed on. (In the film, the address is 709, a numeric authorial motif Linklater has worked into so many of his films, much like American flags, pinball machines, anarchy symbols, and other signatory touches.) What followed Nancy’s departure, along with their daughter, Isa, who would later be close to the film’s production, was a time of Dick’s residing in his former suburban home with fellow drug users, some who lived there and others who were just passing through, in an atmosphere stoked by heavy drug experimentation, the effects of which sometimes led to heightened euphoria but also, in other cases (and for Dick especially) paranoia. Several events in both novel and film come from this period, including a friend’s hallucination of insects in his hair, another friend’s trying to make cocaine from sunblock, an unexpected car malfunction, a suspicious break-in that seemed both to confirm Dick’s theories and to cast doubt on his sanity, and a woman whom Dick was in love with and whom he once accused of being an undercover agent (Carrère 173–219; Sutin 166–207). In these and so many other ways, Scanner may be the closest that cinema has come to a biopic on the writer, albeit filtered through a science-fiction dystopia, and it simultaneously reflects some of Dick’s most central obsessions at the time, including the rise of totalitarian state surveillance (borne out for Dick in the early 1970s by Watergate), the adopting of a paranoiac attitude in order to deal with that rise, the individual and cultural problems endemic to drugs, and the sense that...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780252094040
Related ISBN
9780252036927
MARC Record
OCLC
817540261
Pages
200
Launched on MUSE
2012-12-20
Language
English
Open Access
No
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