The Adapted Man

After perusing Beth’s film link Monday, I was struck by something that I actually already knew. Adaptations rule. And the most adapted writer (other than Stephen King) is someone most non-science fiction readers have never heard of: Philip K. Dick. He has four films in the Top 50 Dystopian Films list:

5. Blade Runner (1982) – based on DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SLEEP (1968)
9. Minority Report (2002) –based on “The Minority Report” (1956)
29. Total Recall (1990)—based on “We can Remember it for You Wholesale” (1966)
36. A Scanner Darkly (2006) -- based on A SCANNER DARKLY (1977)

Dick’s work was also probably a big influence on some of the other Top 50 films, such as Terry Gilliam’s Brazil and The Matrix.

Other PKD film adaptations include:
Screamers (1995)—based on "Second Variety" (1953)
Imposter (2002)—based on “The Imposter” (1953)
Paycheck (2003)—based on “Paycheck” (1953)
Next (2007) –based on “The Golden Man” (1954)
Radio Free Albemuth (2010)–based on RADIO FREE ALBEMUTH (1985)
According to the official PKD website, movies based on his works have netted over a billion dollars to date. And, there are several PKD-based films currently in some stage of production, including Disney’s animated King of the Elves (2012) and The Adjustment Bureau (2011). Dick’s work has also been adapted into stage plays, operas, and comic books.

Sadly, Philip Kindred Dick died of a massive stroke months before Blade Runner hit the screens in 1982. His fans (who call themselves Dickheads) and his children kept his legacy going, though.

His books and short stories are a well worth the read. He melds a dark sense of humor with wildly philosophical sense of possibilities in his work—which often doesn’t come across on the big screen. My personal favorite of his books is MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, an alternate history in which the Allies lost World War II. Or maybe it’s the PENULTIMATE TRUTH. It’s a dystopian novel about a fake war being waged through the media. (Actually, quite a lot of Dick's work is dystopian.)

So many PKD novels, so little time. Any other Dickheads out there? What’s your favorite PKD story or film? Or is there another highly adapted dystopian author out there that you like?

While you're pondering those questions, check out the trailer for upcoming PKD flick, The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon. I love the premise.

3 comments:

beth said...

I became aware of PKD when I saw NEXT a few year ago, and then found out he influenced so many other of the movies I liked. He had a truly brilliant mind.

Angie Smibert said...

Brilliant--and possible paranoid. Haven't seen Next, tho. Will have to check it out.

Julia Karr said...

This looks awesome!