Some of the best on-screen versions of Philip K. Dick’s ideas are anything but adaptations of his stories and novels and, unfortunately, straight adaptations have shown pretty poor form. One exception would be Blade Runner, a film that wanders away from its source, Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, but certainly excels on its own terms.
That film’s director, Ridley Scott, is now behind a new attempt to translate Dick to the moving pictures with a 4-part BBC series derived from The Man In The High Castle. Dick’s novel is set in an alternative 1962 where the allied forces of Japan and Germany won the second world war but are now coming into political conflict across the battlefield of what we think of as the United States. The book cover I’ve used in this post is quite illustrative of a basic set-up.
No director, or directors, have been named, but we do know that Ridley’s Scott Free productions are teaming up with Freemantle, Headline Pictures and Electric Shepherd, the production development watchdog for the Dick estate. Howard Brenton is currently writing the screenplay. His resume as a playwright shows a determined political drive, so I think he’ll really be riding this one home hard.
Broadcast have some quotes from Scott on the production:
[It’s] a joy and a privilege to be back in Dick’s world. I’ve been a lifelong fan. He is the master of creating worlds which not only spark the imagination, but offer deeper commentary on the human condition. Howard is one of Britain’s most highly regarded writers and will bring even more depth to Dick’s classic.
That’s right – Howard Brenton is charged with improving on Dick’s original. Sounds like they’re really swinging for it. I hope this gets a sufficiently sensitive and determined director.
We’ll keep you posted on developments.