Phillip K. Dick, is truly the “Heavy Metal Rock Star of Science Fiction.” Read one of his books and come out the other side changed, and not always in a good way! Read a lot of his best in a row, as offered in the extraordinary “Library of America” series, and you will find yourself
immersed in his paranoia. You will feel it in his universe, but a little may creep into your own.
Movie people recognized his genius (and insanity,) a long time ago. The fear of trying to film one of Dick’s stories led to the bastardized hits “Total Recall” and “Blade Runner;” action
movies with big stars designed to make money, not truly recreate Dick’s works. Of course there is nothing wrong with making money, but it does not have to come with a sacrifice of story. Think of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” or “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. Neither gave up story, and both went on to classic status. “Blade Runner” is a good movie, loosely related to a great novel. The feel was there, but the plot and characterization were over-simplified. “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” is a great story, and with Ridley Scott’s ability to recreate the mood of the book, you wish there could be a do-over. “Total Recall” is getting that opportunity. The early trailer looks promising.
I also hope Ridley Scott will be able to raise his game a notch and make a classic with “The Man in the High Castle.” It lends itself to a more low key approach. Story first, and action second. The subtleties of the book, particularly the prevelance of the “I Ching,” must play an important role. An action movie simply won’t do. The fact that it will come in at a hefty 4 hours is a promising sign. Great stories take time,
“A Scanner Darkly,” was not a bad attempt, but the cartoon overlay did not help the movie. I would like to see a live action re-release someday. I thought the story was recreated about as well as it could have been. I just don’t understand the need to use animation.
“The Adjustment Bureau,” and “Minority Report,” were fair recreations of Dick’s originals. Both movies were appropriately dark and thought provoking. You cannot watch any of the films without paying attention. You must set your mind to understanding a Phillip K. Dick movie, and reading the book ahead of time helps a lot.
It is interesting to imagine movies that might have been made, while Dick was actually alive and writing. The technology to make today’s action blockbuster was not available. The movie would have to be more story-based, particularly with “The Man in the High Castle.” Studios had the chance to make a movie that would have withstood the test of time.
Think of the money that could have been made from a sci-fi tv series based on Phillip K. Dick’s works. He, actively-writing screen plays. (Dick was certainly prolific enough.) It would have easily been as good or better than ”The Twilight Zone” or “The Outer Limits.” Unfortunately, Dick lived the starving artist existence. He was recognized with the Hugo in 1963, and yet still received little recognition or respect. Niether the movie or television studios could successfully put together a project until 1982′s “Blade Runner.” As his heirs must realize, he could have been a rich man.