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. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
A theme of bears can be noticed in the film - the meeting at the start is of the Brown Bear Lodge; a California state flag (with a bear on it) is seen in Arctor's house; Arctor's name appears to be derived from 'Ursus arctos', the scientific name for the Brown Bear and from the star, Arcturus (located in the Bootes constellation which is also known as the 'bear keeper/ herder'). See more »
(at around 10 mins) Arctor's residence, on the computer screen, is shown as Anahiem, California, a misspelling of Anaheim. The associated zip code, 98345 is for Keyport, Washington. See more »
[on the phone]
I looked them up. They're aphids. They're in my hair, on my skin, in my lungs. And the pain, Barris, it's unreasonable. They're all over the place. Oh, they've completely gotten Millie too.
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The "Phil" mentioned in the "in memoriam" list as having permanent pancreatic damage is Philip K. Dick himself. See more »
"For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known".
In 1977 I was digging through a pile of books that had their front covers pulled off and thrown in the garbage. In this pile I found a book by Phillip K Dick.
That book happened to be A Scanner Darkly.
This made me pick up the book and take it home and read it. And what I read was one of the most depressing stories I have ever read in my life: I can honestly say that at the time I read it, I really did not have any idea what Dick was trying to say. But for some reason, I was attracted to the story and I read the whole book in about 2 days. 30 Years Later, I believe I understand now. Which validates the bible verse on which this whole work is based: What we do not understand will eventually be revealed to us.
Part of this film has to do with how we perceive reality, another part touches on what we do to lessen our daily pain. I really was not surprised by how the story ended. The book is not an exciting (and boring) tale of space opera, but it is one of the best works of speculative fiction ever written. And as such, it had become one of the most important books I have ever read.
And so I was surprised to find that this book was being filmed. I was interested in it when I saw that it was following the styles of such films as Sin City, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, and Linklatter's "Waking Life" - However, I did not know how deep the animation well was.
As I watched this story unfold, I saw that this film used more of Phillip K Dick's actual dialog than any other film based on his works. As I kept watching, I understood that the story that was filmed was almost exactly the same story I read 30 years ago. No gunfights, explosions, or chase scenes were inserted. There is only one large liberty Linklatter took with the story: It is at the end of the film, I do not think Phillip K Dick fans would mind this small liberty taken. I can't say what it is, due to it being a spoiler.
If anyone is scratching their head after seeing this film, they ought to avoid films with substance and go back to the Phillip K Dick books that have been destroyed: Bladerunner, Total Recall, and Impostor, which bear little or no resemblance to the original books and short stories they were taken from.
I always judge movies on their Honesty. This one is an Honest movie. The story it tells is a hard one to swallow: Do you believe in what you see, or do you see what you believe? Where does reality divert from hallucination? Although this film deals with drug use and abuse, it also challenges our perception of what is going on around us.
The animation is something else: It is a marvel. I was surprised to see how it was done, each frame animated by hand. If any other story was being told, this would not have worked.
Coming back to this comment after a couple of years, there is really nothing else I can add to this comment. This film is visually well done, which allows the viewer to absorb the story that is being told.
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