1) The movie A Scanner Darkly presents a bizarre, off kilter view of the future. On the surface, the focus of the film is on drugs and their effects on people, but drugs are just used as a gateway to explore the difference between illusion and reality. The animation allows the characters relation with reality to be worn on their skin, as the animation over the bodies becomes less realistic and more “sloshy” when they are out there. There is also a heavy focus on the “big brother” aspect of government so many Americans felt post 9/11.

2) The book A Scanner Darkly by Philip K. Dick is a drug novel. The characters in the story all deal with drugs, often being later harmed by their effects. The action concerns buying drugs, people on drugs doing things, and police finding drugs. Its tough to see the novel as not an anit-drug rant, as the author says it is. But regardless of the drug message, drugs serve as an important symbol, representing the difference between reality and illusion. Any sort of distinction in Dick’s novel is blurred; be it good vs. bad, a bad trip or real life.



– Wired magazine covering the cell-shading style used in A Scanner Darkly


– A site reporting that the score of the movie would be done by Radiohead, a rumor that turned out to be false.


– A review of the music of A Scanner Darkly, and how it helped to add to the feeling of paranoia. The composer took great pains to keep the music in theme with the futuristic, drug-crazed feel, without dating it. As the composer remarks: “The film takes place seven years in the future, and I didn’t want someone seven years from now saying, ‘Oh, that sounds exactly like 2006’ ” when explaining his decision to keep the soundtrack acoustic.


A Scanner Darkly was published in 1977, but not filmed until 2005. How does the film reflect the concerns of 1977 (post-1960s)? How does it reflect the concerns of 2005 (post 9-11)? Are any of the concerns of 1977 the same as those of 2005 (or vice versa)?

The film is funny in how it reflects both the concerns of 1977 and 2005, and how little those concerns have changed. Times certainly have changed in the nearly 30 years, but only insofar as what type of drug we are afraid of, or what government program we distrust. In the 70s the rise of psychedelic drugs seemed as if it would consume the population. It appeared so to Philip Dick, who was in the middle of it, and it appeared so to the politicians at the time, who declared a war on drugs. The war on drugs persists well past 2005, and statistics seem to indicate that the war has been mostly in vain. In the 70s the younger generation questioned the increased role of government in their lives. The draft, the Vietnam War, Kent State. Today we are worried about wire tapping, water boarding and the possibility of a new draft. Though the characters and dates change, the story remains larger the same, making the movie timeless, in a sad sense.