One Summer in Austin: The Story of Filming A Scanner Darkly is a twenty-six minute documentary on the production of the movie. Kicking off with clips from an archive interview with writer Philip K. Dick himself, talking about the book, we get the cast and crew (and friends and family) discussing this endeavour. There's lots of split-screen comparison shots between what was filmed and what was going on on-set, as well as outtakes and rehearsals, with all the main cast explaining what they took from their participation in this production. A nice, montage-heavy but nonetheless informative documentary, this adopts a video-diary approach (with a quaint little score) to chart the path this took from page to screen and is very interesting.
The Weight of the Line: Animation Tales takes twenty-minutes to look more at the post-production side to this affair, with an in-depth look at the surreal imagery, strange sci-fi characters and other work that was put together to bring Dick's book to life. We get many of the digital techniques broken down, with introductions to most of the animation crew and an insight into the visual effort involved. Again, the Featurette is done in a very video-diary style, with almost constant aural narration from the various contributors as we see snapshots of the crew in action, creating their art. For the many fans that are particularly interested in the whole Rotoscope affair, this will be a compelling, must-see extra.
Finally we get the original Theatrical Trailer, although there are a couple of Trailers on disc startup, including ones for the unnecessary Wicker Man remake starring Nicholas Cage (between this and Ghost Rider he appears to be making some rather strange movie decisions), Final Destination 3, The Promise - another wire-fu 'epic' and the low-budget slasher Rest Stop.
A Scanner Darkly is a very capable interpretation of one of Philip K. Dick's most personal, and potentially, most unfilmable works. It features some decent performances, a good script and an innovative visual presentation, but does feel a little rushed towards the end, where the whole intention of the drama appears to change. Rather than just an observation of a drug-addled society, or a commentary on self-awareness, or even a look at the reality behind the paranoid feeling that 'somebody is watching me', the twists at the end of this tale give it a much grander plot that somehow does not suit the close-knit atmospheric feel at the outset. From a technical standpoint the DVD has decent enough specifications on the audio and visual front, with a few nice extras - not least the multi-participant Commentary. Overall fans of Philip K. Dick and of decent sci-fi should already have this in their shopping trolleys, and everybody else tempted should definitely at least give this a rental.
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