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  • Writer's pictureAshton Blyth

A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, 2006)

Firstly, some observations from the film:

  • Just as much detail in the background as the foreground

  • Strong, black, defining outlines

  • Scramble suit - 1.5 million fractions of men, women and children all interchanging on these suits that undercover agents wear to protect their identity while in headquarters, must've taken a long time to put the animations of the multiple suits together

  • The colouring of a person shifts as they move according to the lighting of the scene, the animation is constantly moving

  • The shading creates lines and definition without the need for thick, black lines all over the place

  • Stationary background where possible, makes the foreground stand out more

  • Handwritten letters on signs as opposed to typed letters, keeps with the all drawn/created perspective

  • Un-outlined backgrounds where they want you to focus on the foreground more and not be distracted by the details of the background

  • The further an object in the background, the thinner the black outline

This film helped me realise the minimum amount of lines/detail needed to make the people in my animation identifiable as them, that I don't need to add lots of detailed patterns to outfits or every strand of hair - just the minimum required, and if I want to I can create this 3D-depth through the colouring process. The colouring process is where I believe this film will become most influential.

Contextually, I struggled to understand it to be honest... what I got was the consequences of addiction as the overarching theme from the film, which was confirmed for me by the ending. I guess the way your suddenly just thrown into these group of friends who are hooked on Substance D (which causes it's users to develop split personalities through a disconnect in the hemispheres), one of which being the character Bob Arctor, who is also Agent Fred - someone trying to take down Bob... so yeah, there's a bit of a trippy loophole in the film - but I guess that fits with the story? And again, this hyper-realistic, other-worldly rotoscoping fits into creating a drug-induced perception of the reality for the audience... so in a way, maybe I did understand it by not understanding it?

The ending (as in the very end just before the credits) goes like this:

This has been a story about people who were punished entirely too much for what they did.

I loved them all. Here is a list, to whom I dedicate my love:

To Gaylene, deceased
To Ray, deceased
To Francy, permanent psychosis
To Kathy, permanent brain damage
To Jim, deceased
To Val, massive permanent brain damage
To Nancy, permanent psychosis
To Joanne, permanent brain damage
To Maren, deceased
To Nick, deceased
To Terry, deceased
To Dennis, deceased
To Phil, permanent pancreatic damage
To Sue, permanent vascular damage
To Jem, permanent psychosis and vascular damage

… and so forth.

In memoriam. These were comrades whom I had; there are no better. They remain in my mind, and the enemy will never be forgiven. The "enemy" was their mistake in playing. Let them play again, in some other way, and let them be happy.

- Philip K. Dick

I would like to do something similar at the end of my own animation, a dedication to those who have contributed to helping me understand my gender identity, and supported me on this journey of discovery.


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