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Top 5: Philip K Dick adaptations

Featuring Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, A Scanner Darkly and The Adjustment Bureau

Top 5 Philip K Dick adaptations


Philip K Dick (fun fact: the K stands for Kindred) is hailed as one of the finest science fiction writers in history. He never achieved commercial success in his lifetime: he died following a stroke in 1982, three months before Blade Runner - the first big screen adaptation of his work - was released. In honour of the great man, and to commemorate the release of latest book-to-screen translation The Adjustment Bureau, here's our top 5 Philip K Dick-penned movies.

Blade Runner (1982)

adapted from the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Harrison Ford. Rutger Hauer. Dystopian future LA. This is the Philip K Dick adaptation that all other Philip K Dick adaptations aspire to be. Although that really depends on which one of the eleventy bajillion different edits of it you're talking about.

Total Recall (1990)

adapted from the short story 'We Can Remember it for you Wholesale'

Shortly due to be remade with Colin Farrell in the lead role, Total Recall overcame the twin challenges of Arnold Schwarzenegger's dodgy acting and Sharon Stone's dodgy wardrobe with some incredible special effects, make-up, and a woman with three breasts. Awesome.

Minority Report (2002)

adapted from the short story 'The Minority Report'

Another PKD adap with a Colin Farrell link, this one played a little fast and loose with the source material. Dick's story, aside from providing a completely different set up for the central event (a predicted murder), describes protagonist John Anderton as a balding, out-of-shape police officer. Director Steven Spielberg instead went with Tom Cruise. Go figure.

A Scanner Darkly (2006)

adapted from the novel A Scanner Darkly

Richard Linklater's trippy tale of paranoia is a little messy and unfocussed plotwise, but his use of Rotoscoping (which involves animators tracing over the live action sequences) results in a visually stunning piece of cinema, backed up by a great cast including Winona Ryder, Woody Harrelson and Robert Downey Jr.

The Adjustment Bureau (2011)

adapted from the short story 'Adjustment Team'

Dick's tale of a shady, all-powerful organisation that's responsible for making sure the world runs smoothly has been adapted by George Nolfi with a romantic emphasis: protagonist David Norris (originally named Ed Fletcher; he's played in the film by Matt Damon) chooses to defy the titular Bureau (in the story he goes along with them) in order to find love with Emily Blunt (Fletcher was married). Which is understandable, really.

… and the worst

Next (2007)

adapted from the short story 'The Golden Man'

The story of a man who can see two minutes into the future is rife with possibilities - there's one great scene in the film where our protagonist, Cris Johnson (Nicolas Cage) visualises the various ways he can chat up the woman of his dreams (Jessica Biel) in a diner. Unfortunately, the rest of the film fails to retain this sparkle, crashing down under the weight of a third-act cop out and Cage's awful hair.

The Adjustment Bureau

  • 3 stars
  • 2011
  • US
  • 106 min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: George Nolfi
  • Cast: Matt Damon, Emily Blunt

A politician's (Damon) life is transformed by a chance meeting with a dancer (Blunt). Perhaps not the greatest ever film adaptation of a Philip K Dick novel, but thanks to the stars' chemistry and Nolfi's light touch, highly enjoyable.

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