Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Scanner Darkly

Steping away from the virtual for a moment (lol), I went to see A Scanner Darkly this weekend, the film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel of the same name (which I have not yet read).

I thought the rotoscoped technique used by the director Richard Linklater (and used by him on the film Waking Life) perfectly captured the entire point of the movie: that the distinction between reality and dream blurs to the point where the two become one, like parallel lines drifting off to the horizon to eventually merge.

This is a central theme that permeates PKD's works throughout. That's why it pisses me off that the film critics don't seem to realize that the film completely captures that ideal by using the rotoscope technique. The entire movie becomes nothing but a cartoon, completely encapsulating the paranoid world of the users of Substance D, where hallucinations increasingly encroach on reality due to the drug's effects on the brain (check the review list at rotten tomatoes). At least Ebert and Roper seem to get it.

All of this brings me to a point. When are we going to start seeing machinima that wields the full pallette of possibilities inherent in that medium? In most of the pieces I see now, the limitations of the medium are fully exposed, but are not fully embraced as they should be. The cracks show, and it's like watching the dull scrabblings of a great ape who has been given a box of crayons to draw with. Then again, I suppose somebody had to start painting on caves all those millenia ago in order to start the march of progress towards today's spectacular theatrics.


Booklad said...

Just discovered your blog today and am enjoying your comments. I'll definitely be coming back to visit.

Don't completely agree with the review of Scanner Darkly; the rotoscope got in the way of the actors performances for me and, while I see your point, it didn't really enhance PKD's themes as much as live action and CGI would. And there was a little too much "slacker" talk for me, but I'd much rather see Linklatter try something bold and not quite succeed than 99% of the crap we are asked to watch.

As for machinima showing its cracks. You couldn't be more accurate. This has been a problem with the medium from day one. I'm so glad you are making this point. I hope the machinima community is paying attention.


bllius said...

I hope so too, although limitations are a great way for artists to innovate as they work against the roadblocks.