Blog Response— A Scanner Darkly


  1. Analysis of the Book

Philip K. Dick’s A Scanner Darkly is a science fiction novel about an undercover agent, Bob Arctor, who becomes addicted to a psychoactive drug after he was assigned to spy on his roommates.  After several psychological tests on Arctor are done, it is revealed that Arctor’s addiction overtook his ability to job as an undercover agent. The book is based on Dick’s own experiences with drug use during the 1970s.  Several of the book’s themes are darkness, dystopia, religion, and drug abuse.

  1. Analysis of the Film

In terms of storyline, the film version of A Scanner Darkly directed by Richard Linklater is similar to Philip K. Dick’s novel. Using a scramble suit, agents are able to cover their identity as they investigate drug use in California. The animation of the film helps the film adapt into a fantasy world, which remains the viewer that the film is not real.

  1. Analysis of the Adaptation

The film version of A Scanner Darkly is a good adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel; however, one of the parts that get lost between the book and the film adaptation is the theme of religion. Even though most of the novel’s themes are adapted into Linklater’s film, the novel’s religious theme is not reflected in the film. The novel’s religious theme is a reflection on Philip K. Dick’s own mystical experiences after taking drugs. The closest the film gets to a mystical experience is at the end when Arctor imagines the blue flowers in the field. Also, Linklater’s rotoscoping reflects view into how Substance D would affect the user’s vision by the film’s disorienting background.

  1. Online Research on the Film

This article analyses the use of rotoscoping in the film as well as compares the book to its film adaptation.

In this article, the writer addresses Linklater’s take on A Scanner Darkly novel and the use of rotoscoping in the film.

This article compares A Scanner Darkly to other Linklater’s films and the treatment of time throughout the film. The central focus is on Donna’s character and her relationship with Arctor. The writer makes a point when he says that even though Donna surrounds herself around drug situations, never once does the viewer see her take any drugs. Linklater wastes no time as he pushes Donna and Arctor’s relationship forward. He shows that even though Donna manipulates Arctor into taking the drugs, Arctor does not realize it because he had already fallen for her.

  1. Critical Argument Paragraph

Richard Linklater’s choice of using “interpolated rotoscoping” enhances both the storyline and the viewer’s experience. Rotoscoping the entire film brings out more visual effects that might not appear in a live-action film. The opening scene with the bugs crawling all over the apartment and Freck might frighten viewers if it was a live-action film. Since the film uses rotoscoping, the scene becomes more bearable because the animation reinforces that the scene is not real. The viewer’s experience is enhanced by the “interpolated rotoscoping” because it visually twists the viewer’s vision and show how it might feel like being on Substance D. The “interpolated rotoscoping” was the appropriate technique to show the storyline and give the viewers a unique experience.


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