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A Scanner Darkly

I've just been out to see the above with nigelmouse, at a fabulous cinema called the Hyde Park. Leeds City Council inform me that it was originally built as a hotel in 1908, but became a cinema in 1914, and has been one ever since. It's a real treasure, and I could quite understand why nigelmouse said he often goes there as much for the cinema as for the films.

The film was very much worth it in itself this time, though. It uses a new animation technique, which involved filming the action with live actors, and then tracing over some, but not all, of the frames with animation, and using a kind of 3D equivalent of tweening to fill in the rest. The effect was really quite trippy - movements were realistic enough to make you expect full realism, but still unnervingly not-quite-real, while in some shots it was entirely clear that you were watching an animation, and in others (especially long shots), the line between animation and live action became very thin.

And all of this fitted in very well with the subject-matter of the film - a world of drugs paranoia and double-identities. Much of the story, in fact, is seen through the eyes of a character who is suffering increasingly impaired mental faculties through drug-use, and is hallucinating and confused. Whilst the viewer is allowed to work out what's actually going on by the end of the film, for much of it we're as confused about the nature of reality as he is, and the animation style adds a lot to that.

Definitely worth seeing once: probably even better a second time when you can benefit from being clearer about what's going on than the main character is.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 13th, 2006 10:40 pm (UTC)
Leeds International Film Festival
Oh, and the lineup for Leeds International Film Festival should appear here soon. There's a link to last years site which will give you an idea of the kind of stuff that gets shown.

The Hyde Park is still officially my favorite cinema of all time.
Sep. 14th, 2006 10:16 am (UTC)
Re: Leeds International Film Festival
Great, thanks for the link - I'll keep an eye on that!
Sep. 13th, 2006 11:19 pm (UTC)
Bah. I wanted to see that last night but nowhere in York was showing it so I ended up seeing "The Wicker Man". It's a favourite book of mine.

Rotoscoping itself is not that new as a technique. A favourite computer game of mine "The Last Express" used it but it's been used since the 30s and famously in the 1970s Lord of the Rings.

Glad it was an enjoyable film though -- doubtless I will catch it when it comes out on DVD. Rotoscoping is pretty appropriate for Phillip Dick's obsessions with the blurring and nature of identity.
Sep. 14th, 2006 10:18 am (UTC)
Well, I accept that people were drawing over live action film to create animations in the '70s, or even the '30s, but surely they couldn't have been using computers to fill in the gaps between drawings back then?

Was The Wicker Man as bad as I'm assuming?
Sep. 14th, 2006 10:22 am (UTC)
*grin* True the computer part of it was (I think) a 90s invention. Still, you did remind me of one of my favourite computer games "The Last Express" which used the technique and made the biggest loss in computer game history [I'm now bidding for an old copy on Ebay].

I thought they did a pretty good job with Wicker Man really but then I don't hold the original especially sacred. What they did well was to keep some measure of tension in a film where you know what will happen from the start.
Sep. 14th, 2006 07:08 am (UTC)
I have to admit I gave up on the book. I'd ploughed through several other of Dick's novels, and enjoyed some. But 'A Scanner Darkly' just left me so confused as to who was who and what was going on that I decided to read something else instead. I might go back to it and have another go though.
Sep. 14th, 2006 10:23 am (UTC)
*laugh* Well it is about merging and confusion of identities.
Sep. 14th, 2006 11:28 am (UTC)
I certainly found the identies to merge, and it all quite confusing.

When I've finished the book I'm reading now, I'll have another look at it I think. Maybe I just had Dick-overload (no innuendos please), having just read 'The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch' and 'Martian Time-Slip' just before. I did like 'Martian Time-Slip' though, but it ended a bit abruptly.
Sep. 14th, 2006 08:18 am (UTC)
the Hyde Park Picture House is fab. Uncomfortable seats though!

Um. You know we'd pencilled in lunch today? My to-do list has reached simply terrifying proportions - can we do next week instead? Really sorry about this.

email me: dakegra (at) yahoo co uk

Sep. 14th, 2006 09:49 am (UTC)
It depends when you last went to the hyde park, as they got new (and more comfortable) seats about a year ago. It's now no longer painfully uncomfortable to sit in there.
Sep. 14th, 2006 09:53 am (UTC)
this was a midnight showing of Blade Runner, about 12 years ago...


happy to hear they've sorted the seats out. They were quaint in their way, but sore on the bum.
Sep. 14th, 2006 10:21 am (UTC)
Yep, they were good in an old fashioned, authentic kinda way. I also found the uncomfortableness (is that a word ?) helped keep you awake during the all-nighters they run.

The seats haven't gone far, I've heard they're now at the commonplace, used for thier own cinema room.
Sep. 14th, 2006 10:23 am (UTC)
they were rather useful in that respect, it has to be said.

Glad to see they're being put to good use too. Recycle!
Sep. 14th, 2006 10:18 am (UTC)
Sep. 14th, 2006 08:32 am (UTC)
I saw this over the Bank Holiday weekend with my dad and loved it. I'm a fan of PKD but hadn't read this one, and neither of the libraries I'm signed up with has it :(
Sep. 14th, 2006 08:37 am (UTC)
Sounds good- wish the rest of us had managed to get organised enough to go see it in Oxford when you suggested it now...
3D tweening is still tweening, btw- it's used a lot in games to move things around when you don't have a specific animation to do it.
Sep. 17th, 2006 09:54 am (UTC)
after meeting you i have added you.
Sep. 17th, 2006 11:42 am (UTC)
Hi Roberto! I've added you back. Nice to meet you last night.
Sep. 17th, 2006 11:51 am (UTC)
good to meet you also. see you anon.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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