Steve Steve: An MP3 Blog

Thursday, July 20, 2006

a scanner darkly

This movie is rad. Here's the trailer. Some reviewers have called it disjointed and lacking a coherent narrative, but they were either too high (which might be fun) or weren't paying close enough attention (which is understandable, since the dialogue is very fast and often crazy, especially that goofball Robert Downey Jr.). Much like Waking Life, this movie is chocked full of philosophic ideas, complemented with the rotoscopic animation technique. The main characters in the movie are all using a drug called Substance D, which impairs their perceptual abilities and causes wierd hallucinations - lots of big bugs. The way the film is animated allows the audience to experience the characters' perceptual adventures. Not only the shots from the characters' perspectives but the whole movie is animated this way, which causes you to feel as if you are also on Substance D and blurs your perceptions of the distinction between the movie and reality. You might be thinking, 'woah dude, red pill or blue pill?' and yes, this movie picks up on The Matrix's critique of the fa├žades of modern culture, but unlike The Matrix, this science fiction forgoes the pseudo-religious bullshit and and self-conscious computers. This dystopia is very similar to contemporary Orange County, except for a couple futuristic gizmos that Phillip K. Dick probably thought up on his own adventures with 'Substance D' (such as a coat that constantly shifts Keanu's appearance between a million different patchworked facial and bodily identities). And even these gizmos are not so futuristic if you interpret them metaphorically. I have one hint that gives nothing away but may enhance your understanding of the movie: as you're watching, reflect on the meaning of the title, 'a scanner darkly,' in relation to the characters' perceptions of the world, each other, and themselves - constant suspicion, desiring to 'scan clearly' behind the appearances.
"He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you." - Nietzsche.
"My mind's playin' tricks on me." - The Geto Boys
The movie ends with a Thom Yorke song in which he says "fuck" a lot (in homage to the sidesplittaz' "i'm not a father, I just fuck a lot"): black swan - Thom Yorke.


Blogger Ilya said...

The movie ends with a passage from P.K. Dick's novel, dedicating the book to his friends and lovers whose lives were destroyed by drug use. I disagree with Eli over the lessons the film leaves us when we walk out of the theater. "A Scanner Darkly", adapted from Dick's novel, is a story about the evils of highly addictive drugs. In the film, set in southern California, the government is going after users of a drug called "D", whose properties are very vague. The substance makes its users politically ineffective and fit for slave labor. And it is also about the loss of identity in our world. Eli picked up on that in his post. But the overwhelming message is anti-drug.

8:44 PM  

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