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Linklater On A Scanner Darkly: "It's
The World We're Living In"
Surveillance, war on drugs and terror themes parallel reality
Acclaimed director Richard Linklater, also currently turning heads for his comments on the Bush administration, joined GCN radio host Alex Jones for a discussion on the deeper aspects of the motivations behind A Scanner Darkly and the message it is intended to broadcast.
The film, starring Keanu Reeves, Robert Downy Jnr, Woody Harrelson and Winona Ryder, is enjoying rave reviews as it slowly rolls out across the country.
"On one level it can't really help be seen as a social critique - too much thought has gone into it for people not to see that whole side of it," said Linklater.
The movie emphasizes the effects of suffocating surveillance and how this interferes with the character's very notions of identity and reality.
"The things I get out of it I can only attribute to Philip K. Dick (on whose book the film is based) - deep metaphorical ideas - just the notion of identity and privacy - they're deep ideas that resonate," said Linklater (pictured below).
"Even if they don't totally understand the movie they get the basic message about this future world - it's set seven years in the future - where people are under surveillance all the time, your calls are being tapped, all your actions are monitored."
Parallels to modern day developments have been noted in all the major reviews of the film and it is usually the favorite topic of the media during Scanner press conferences.
"Even though its technically a science fiction movie - we're living in science fiction right now," Linklater told Jones.
Linklater said he imagined Philip K. Dick laughing at him from beyond the grave when he received a mailed ticket a week later for going through a yellow light after being photographed by a number plate recognition camera and that this incident was one of the catalytic elements for some of the autonomous surveillance themes in the film.
"What's the next step - you cross the street at night and you get a ticket for jaywalking because biometrically it can read who you are?" said the director.
Linklater outlined how the surveillance themes are more of an overlay on the film rather than a focal point, because the story is set in a groove whereby society has become conditioned to accept that real privacy no longer exits.
"There's not a lot of resistance we see going on anywhere - people adapt pretty easily to this - it seems like a nightmarish scenario but it's presented in a pretty normal fashion - so that got people thinking 'oh gosh we're just sheep being led' - this conditioning works eventually."
The film is brought to life by the eerie musical score of Austin composer Graham Reynolds - who also featured on Alex Jones' TerrorStorm documentary.
Linklater said that the original Philip K. Dick book and the movie are a tribute in memoriam to friends that Dick had lost to drugs and this also resonated with the producers and cast.
"This is really about right now - it's easy to imagine a future where the endless unwinnable drug war would sort of meld in with the endless unwinnable war on terror - and how governments and corporations profiteer and the effects of that on the individual - the numbing effects," said Linklater.
"So it's this huge cautionary tale on a lot of levels."
Linklater also credited Alex Jones, who appears in a cameo role and also did consulting for the film, for providing material that the producers and cast used to bounce off.
"I'd been giving out your videos to everybody - it informed everything we were doing so it was definitely the world we were living in," said the director of the upcoming Fast Food Nation.
Linklater said the film was his contribution to the wider underlying resistance that is building against the gradual erosion of freedom in western society.
"We definitely felt like we got away with something, just to be even able to put this out there in the world felt like a triumph of some kind - within the movie itself there's this kind of very subtle resistance going on beneath the surface - in a way you feel that way yourself you're sort of commenting on the current climate and what's going on in the world in your own way you have to fight against it," said Linklater.
Linklater heralded Philip K. Dick as a visionary who was leaps and bounds ahead of his time.
"It's funny how Philip K. Dick could imagine some of this stuff thirty years ago and he was a crackpot - he was a paranoid conspiracy person from the margins to be laughed at - that plus a generation equals reality."
"It's the world we're living in."