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The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick (2001)

Not Rated | | Documentary | 2 March 2001 (USA)
Philip K. Dick novels and stories continue to inspire a filmmakers, writers, technophiles and philosophers. But for the last ten years of his life, he inhabited a reality stranger than the fiction he created.

Director:

Mark Steensland

On Disc

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Cast

Cast overview:
Paul Williams Paul Williams
Robert Anton Wilson Robert Anton Wilson
Scott Apel Scott Apel
Jay Kinney Jay Kinney
Ray Nelson Ray Nelson
Miriam Lloyd Miriam Lloyd
Jason Koornick Jason Koornick
Duncan Watson Duncan Watson
Sharon Perry Sharon Perry
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Storyline

Philip K. Dick novels and stories continue to inspire a filmmakers, writers, technophiles and philosophers. But for the last ten years of his life, he inhabited a reality stranger than the fiction he created.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 March 2001 (USA) See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$582, 4 March 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$582, 4 March 2001
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Company Credits

Production Co:

TKO Productions See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color
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User Reviews

 
Fascinating subject matter transcends low budget production value
3 April 2005 | by xshitzSee all my reviews

It's easy to criticize the low budget production value of this documentary, however, that and the quirky, semi-inarticulate interviewees only accentuates the surreal mood that must have pervaded Philip K. Dick's life.

The fact that Philip K. Dick stories have been the basis for immensely popular Hollywood films—Blade Runner, Total Recall, and Minority Report—are the least interesting details discussed in the fascinating, very low budget documentary, The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick. The fact that Dick was married, much less four times during his life, is not even touched upon. For better or worse, the filmmaker, Mark Steensland, focuses on the truly bizarre aspects of Dick's life, and the bizarre aspects were legion.

The first episode of Dick's life examined is the time in 1971 when he returned to his house to find that someone had broken in and blown open his 1,100 pound safe with explosives. The vault contained all of Dick's personal papers, tax returns, as well as an unknown quantity of drugs. One friend suspected those drugs to be heroin. Although a frequent and fervent drug-user, Dick summoned the authorities, even calling the FBI to investigate the matter. It remains vague just how deeply the authorities investigated this break-in and theft, but they did take the time to inform Dick that they felt he was, in fact, responsible for the act. As writer Paul Williams—whose 1975 profile on Dick was partly responsible for launching Dick's modest fame during his lifetime—points out, Dick was charmed by this notion, and actually spent some time meditating on the possibility that he had breached his own safe with explosives somehow without consciously knowing about it. No conclusions are offered, though one friend and writer speculates that some of the transient youth who crashed and used drugs at Philip K. Dick's home had violated his safe and made off with a quantity of drugs. Not long after the incident, Dick made rapid plans to leave California, heading up to Vancouver, British Columbia where he entered a drug treatment facility.

The next period in Dick's life that's examined in the documentary centers on what Dick referred to "2-3-74", meaning February and March of 1974. Following a period of illness, sporadic drug use, and coming out of a vitamin experiment where Dick's body had been bombarded with mega doses of Vitamin B, Dick answered a knock at his door one day to find a delivery driver from the local pharmacy had arrived with his prescription. As the girl at the door handed Dick the bag containing his prescription, his eye fell upon a Christian fish symbol pendant that hung around the girl's neck. He was then overtaken by an intense flash of light that knocked him unconscious, or at least senseless, for a period of twenty-four hours. The experience was very profound, leaving Dick with the sense that he had had an encountered with God. He referred to the experience as arising from a "pink beam" of light, and spent the next several years of his life writing about the experience in a body of work he titled "Exegesis." This piece of writing ultimately came to span 8,000 pages, and obsessed him until his death.

As a writer, I'm always inspired by seeing documentaries about famous and infamous writers. The Gospel According to Philip K. Dick was an enjoyable surprise, and definitely a quirky piece of popular culture that is worth finding and viewing.


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