Down With The PKDness

Don't ask me how I managed not to start watching The Man In The High Castle until just now. Don't. Me, the biggest Philip K. Dick fan on my block, passing up on a TV series made from one of his most lauded works. How does that happen? Don't ask. Okay, in truth, it had something to do with the show starting in the middle of some goings-on in my life that made it hard for me to want to watch it, whatever its origins, but those times are past now, and it's a tad easier for me to sink into it.

What gets me most, though, is how a man whose works have long been regarded as unfilmable are now not even considered all that tough an assignment for a creative team. I've written about this before — it's because we have far more of a history of how to adapt things, and decades of more sophisticated storytelling to build atop of, than we used to. It also helps that we have more ways to bring something to the screen in depth and breadth than ever before — it isn't just about two-something hours destined for a theatrical release.

Still, the number of things not filmed in PKD's back catalog dwarf what has been adapted so far. This well has barely had a bucket thrown into it. I'm still waiting for Ubik, for instance — although I don't know if it makes sense to use PKD's own screenplay for the project, since it was written before all the adaptations of his work, and thus doesn't benefit from the ways visual storytelling has advanced since. I'm hoping someday we'll see Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said, a story PKD wrote in the middle of the student-riot chaos of the early 1970s and which has only grown more prescient since for a whole passel of reasons. And maybe VALIS or The Divine Invasion, some of his most difficult but also rewarding works. (We did get Radio Free Albemuth, but I haven't seen it and by all accounts it's NOT GOOD, as Anthony Fantano [or Philthony K. Dicktano, as he might say, haha] would put it.)

What I do not want, and don't think will serve anyone, is adaptations of this material that try to be slavishly faithful. Dick is one of those authors you have to actually adapt — you have to take his work apart and stick it back together again, because what works on a page for him doesn't work at all when you just point a camera at it as-is. This was the great mistake people made with The Great Gatsby, multiple times over. The biggest danger in adapting PKD's work is in merely making a replicant, so to speak, rather than something new.

Tags: Philip K. Dick  science fiction  television 

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This page contains a single entry by Serdar Yegulalp in the category Uncategorized / General, published on 2019/11/27 08:00.

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