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The Penultimate Truth About Philip K. Dick (2007)

| Documentary | Video 2007
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Philip K. Dick: The Penultimate Truth  »

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Not awful but marred by silly pseudo-FBI framing device
19 September 2009 | by (Arkansas) – See all my reviews

Most fans will wish for a more thoughtful bio documentary on the great SF writer Philip K. Dick. This is only one of several bio films on Dick; the only other comparable film I've seen is PKD; A Day in the Afterlife from 1994, and while it's not perfect either, it's considerably better than this film. The worst thing about this film is its silly framing device: a couple of FBI types in a darkened room examine tapes and dossiers on Dick to determine whether the writer experienced psychic episodes. This only serves to cheapen the subject. Take this away, and what's left is not bad, in its way. We receive accounts of Dick from old friends, fellow writers (though no one most viewers will be familiar with) and, most prominently, several of Dick's wives and girlfriends. (He was married six times in his relatively brief life.) We learn of the death of his twin sister at the age of five weeks--a loss that haunted him throughout his life; we learn of his impoverished existence in the fifties in Berkeley (living at times on cat food); we see his developing paranoia, the result of drugs and, likely, heredity; and his psychiatrist appears to give us inside info on private sessions. (Does this violate something, somehow?) The clips of Dick himself are few and far between, but we get a few snippets of his strange, if not disastrous, speech in France in 1977. We learn somewhere between nothing and very little about the fiction he wrote, but we can go elsewhere for that (K.S. Robinson's book, SF Studies articles, etc.). So this is a real mixed bag, worth seeing, but just that.


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