Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ridley Scott Set To Produce Man in the High Castle for the BBC

Seldom these days does any Dickian news really knock my socks off. But they were blown off and straight through the wall beneath my desk when the news came over the wires:

Ridley to Return to Work of Sci-Fi icon!

If you read that it'll say that Ridley's gonna do Man in the High Friggin Castle as a mini-series for the BBC. And by 'do' I mean produce, but the article speculates he might end up directing.

So, I'm preparing my passport to fly to England, or whatever it's gonna take to get this film into my eye and earholes as quickly as possible.

Ridley sez:

"I've been a lifelong fan of Philip K Dick," said Scott. "He is the master of creating worlds which not only spark the imagination but offer deeper commentary on the human condition."


The news was also splashed up on complete with a press release, so this is like way legit and hopefully will be quite good. Some people have been talking about the writer who's been drafted to draft this thing:

"Howard Brenton, the playwright and Spooks writer, is adapting Dick's Hugo award-winning dystopian novel The Man in the High Castle into a four-part BBC1 mini-series."

Two topics for the comments section:

1) What's 'Spooks'?

2) I would like to be the first to exploit the spotted dick, PKD, BBC humor cluster:
"Spotted Dick in England with Man in the High Castle"
Now, I'm sure you can improve upon that hasty punnery.

Oh, and 3) C'mon Ridley, do you really expect us to believe you're a lifelong fan? If that were the case don't you think you would have read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? before you made a movie of it?

(Slightly tardy tip o' the hat to reader Fran L who was commenting on this before I could even rub the sleep dust out of my eyes!)


Anonymous said...

While cool that someone's decided to tackle one of PKD's most amazing works, I'm kind of dismayed that it's going to be Scott. I mean, I love Bladerunner, but it's a flawed movie and is a real departure from Dick's work and seemed to have missed the point of the original novel.
And, while Ridley has improved as a filmmaker over the years, this has got to be one of the most challenging of Dick's novels to adapt to something cinematic or for television. I mean, so much of the story is told through multiple points-of-view!
I guess Scott could add narration...(snark!).

palmer_eldritch said...

1) Spooks is a popular TV show in the UK, based around spies, MI5, etc. It's won several awards. I'm getting all this from Wikipedia, you understand, having never watched the show, myself.

2) Good luck with that.

3) Indeed. Typical sales pitch, I expect nothing less.

Lenny Boyle said...

C'mon Mr Gill. A tiny hat tip at the bottom of the article? It would have made my day I'm a big fan. Oh well.

Lenny Boyle said...

"Spooks" is a term meaning espionage in Britain, maybe it is elsewhere also I don't know. It's an espionage show produced by the BBC. It has been broadcast in the U.S. at different times on the A&E network and PBS under the title "MI-5"; it's a kind of British "24". It has it's moments but it's not the best thing on the tube. I am not familiar with Howard Brenton's work; let's hope he's good.

giospurs said...

Wow, this could be great.
Ridley Scott's responsible for not only the best PKD adaptation but also one of my favourite films ever in Blade Runner, so I'm majorly excited about this.

I've never seen it, but I've heard it's decent. It can be hard to tell how good TV writers are from their past gigs anyway.

Oh, and TDH you seem to be getting overly cynical about anyone approaching Dick apart from died-in-the-wool Dick-heads like yourself. Why did Scott's comment deserve a long "Hmmmmmmm"?

ct-scan said...

It'll be pretty hard for him to completely remove the "religious" aspects of this novel, like he did for DADOES.

CSims said...

(1) 'Spooks' is the British title of the show we know in the states as 'MI-5'. The name was changed because of the obvious racial pejorative.

(2) Not gonna touch that one.

(3) I don't believe for a second that he is a lifelong fan, but I feel he does have a good deal of respect for him now. That said, I have never been the fan of "Blade Runner" that many Dickheads are.

Spotted PKDick said...

I gotta agree that Ridley Scott saying he is a "lifelong fan" of Philip K. Dick is a load of BS. That said, this is pretty unexpected and I am looking forward to this. I think this works better as a miniseries than a movie. Who knows, maybe Scott actually read the book this time! In all seriousness it is possible that after he took some flack for saying he didn't even finish Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep he actually did get into PKD's work. Still not a "lifelong fan" though.

Nick said...

Spooks is a BBC drama series about the British security services, surveillance and espionage. It has high production values.
I appreciate your pointing out Ridley's 'newfound' love of PKD - that certainly wasn't the case when they met or when Blade Runner was being made.
Let's consult the I-Ching to see if the project will be a good one :-)

Ragle Gumm said...

Fran L: better late than never forgive my omission, but in all fairness my inbox was inundated yesterday with messages about Ridley's involvement.

Lenny Boyle said...

@Ragle Gumm You're quite right. I was a tad over excited by this news. I appreciate the mention on my favourite blog and please keep up the good work.

Neorandomizer said...

I have seen Spooks on PBS and BBCA and it's called MI5 here in the states. It's a good show and I have watched it more if it's air times were more regular.

That said all though I love the movie Blade Runner I wince when it's called a PKD movie. It has the same relation to the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep as the Paris hotel casino here in Las Vegas does to the city of Paris. It looks like a PKD story, it even feels like one at times but it is not a PKD story.

Umberto Rossi said...

I daresay that Scott's move is one of the most intelligent so far... even one who is not very much into cinema like me knows that if you try to turn a novel into a movie you usually have to butcher it, and you don't always have competent butchers à la Peoples to do the job; so a mini-series is way better. And it fits perfectly CASTLE as it's one of those novels that you can't take away anything without spoiling it and turning it into something shallow. Ah, for those who might be interested: Cinnadella ain't a real Italian surname. It's as bogus as the man who sports it.

LarryS said...

This could be well cool!

The History Rat said...

That is great news! The mini series concept makes much more sense than a regular 2 hour movie.

Anonymous said...

Well thanks to Blade Runner people around the world got to know PKD's work.
I know you were being sarcastic, still wouln't go as far as saying that Ridley did not read the book before shooting the movie.
He obviously did, and he did a good work in popularizing pkd.

Ragle Gumm said...

aleX: I'm not being sarcastic. Ridley said in an interview somewhere that he got like 30 pages into the book after liking the screenplay, but couldn't finish the novel because there was too much going on to make a good movie. Wish I could exonerate myself by finding the quote, but no luck. I'm sure I wrote about it on this very blog.

Agreed tho, Blade Runner brought a lot of people to PKD's work. Let's hope this project does the same.

LarryS said...

The funny thing is Do Androids is at best an ok novel-nothing to write home about and yet the film is fantastic cinema! I'd go so far as to say that if it wasn't for the film the book would have remained obscure. One example of a film beong better than the book.
Now I'd like to see Flow My Tears the Policeman Said filmed-that is a great book! Never read Man in the High Castle tho.

Robert Cook said...

In re: Scott and BLADE RUNNER and DADOES.

When BLADE RUNNER was first released, I was a hugely partisan fan of it, first for being the first film adaptation of a work by my favorite writer, and second, for its beautiful and convincing visual design. It created a world that felt convincing, lived-in, and real.

Unfortunately, in retrospect particularly, but apparent even really wasn't the world Dick had created.

I accepted this as the normal way of things: novels were novels and films were films, and one could not expect a film to attempt complete fidelity to its source novel, simply for the greater density of data contained in a novel as compared with a film, and also because so much in novels is told, while movies can only show, and, also because the events and characters in novels may often be "uncinematic," that is to say, what works to convey story and character in prose often will fail on film, or be unfilmable at all.***

Now, although BLADE RUNNER is vastly improved with the removal of Deckard's leaden voice-over--though not, unfortunately, accompanied by the removal of Harrison Ford's leaden performance--I find it among the least satisfying of the Dick film adaptations. It's too slow, too portentious, too ridden with long "meaningful" silences between Deckard and Rachel as well as senseless dialogue and activity that serve only to "move" the story along without really advancing it.

By contrast, TOTAL RECALL is far better simply in conveying a sense of Dick's actual world and sensibility on film, despite its overdone "Ahnuld" Hollywood action epic contrivances. SCREAMERS is also better, and IMPOSTER, though modest, a fine effort. The best Dick adaptations to date are BARJO, the French adaptation of CONFESSIONS OF A CRAP ARTIST, and A SCANNER DARKLY.

I hope the more capacious dramatic space afforded Scott by a four hour mini-series, and HIGH CASTLE's more prosaic scenario, will encourage Scott to fashion a less superficial and more considered rendering of this Dick property entrusted to his care.

***(As an example of this latter difficulty, one can see that the recent film NEVER LET ME GO, while superficially quite faithful overall to Ishiguro's wonderful source novel--despite the alteration of a few small but significant details--ultimately fails to convey the novel's actual essence, as it exists entirely in its narrator's head, just as the essence of the events of our lives--what's meaningful about them to us--exists only in our own heads. NEVER LET ME GO is a carefully made, respectful and faithful adaptation of its source, but it is only a shade of that source, dramatically much thinner and possibly incomprehensible if one hasn't read the novel.)

Robert Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Cook said...

"The funny thing is Do Androids is at best an ok novel-nothing to write home about and yet the film is fantastic cinema! I'd go so far as to say that if it wasn't for the film the book would have remained obscure. One example of a film beong better than the book."

I have to completely disagree. DO ANDROIDS DREAM is not only far better than BLADE RUNNER, more nuanced and complex than the film, but one of Dick's masterpieces in its own right, worth remembering even if the film had never been made...hardly one of his "just ok" novels, (of which there are a few).

LarryS said...

Robert, theres no way Total Recall is a better film than Bladerunner! TR is fun yea, but BR is superb dark, noir SF cinema!

giospurs said...

Robert, you're really being silly if you're saying that Total Recall is better than Blade Runner. I accept your point that Total Recall better conveys Dick's ideas and feeling but it's also a very shitty movie if you're trying to take it seriously whereas Blade Runner is, as has been said, a masterpiece of film noir.

I'll never understand why people constantly whine that a film isn't faithful to its source material in such cases. Blade Runner creates a fantastic vision, something that DADOES,for all it's interesting ruminations, didn't do. Just read the book if you want the stuff that the film didn't pick up on. You can do both!

As much as I'm fond of Linklater's A Scanner Darkly, that film was too faithful to Dick's novel and ended up being merely a visual representation of what you could better experience by reading Phil's book. I'm glad that Scott didn't do that, and managed to transcend Dick's novel to create one of the greatest films in the process.

LarryS said...

I get tired of people comparing a book to a film-theyre two diferent entities, one being based on the other (the only exception I know is 2001 A Space Odyssey, both media being produced in tandem)
Generally (tho not always) you watch a film to be entertained, and you read a book to be enlightened.

Robert Cook said...

I never said TOTAL RECALL is a better "film" than BLADE RUNNER, sure is a lot more fun. (It would have been lovely to have seen David Cronenberg's version. His Existenz demonstrated he would be the perfect director to adapt a Dick property.) As time has gone on I think the only substantive thing BLADE RUNNER has going for it is the amazing and beautifully realized visual design...which makes sense given that Ridley Scott is primarily a visual artist.

Aside from that, it's two-dimensional and ponderous, and not in the least any sort of noir "masterpiece" if compared with true masterpieces of noir cinema. Harrison's Deckard is not "hard-boiled" but just sour (Dick's protagonists are not hard-boiled, in any case, but neurotics).

I think it moved from being under appreciated in its original release to having become a fetish object for many, wildly overpraised. It's an interesting and visually dazzling...failure. This is not so much because it isn't true to its source--it couldn't be, with all that's going on in the book--but just because the film is flawed as a film. (And this is said by a guy who owns the briefcase set of all five versions of the film!).

But, hey! If you disagree, fine. There' no reason we have to agree and no reason my opinion should annoy anyone.

Lenny Boyle said...

@Robert Cook. You are absolutely right about Cronenberg. Videodrome is also pretty dickian.