Popcorn Politics – Selected Philip K. Dick Stories in Contemporary Film Adaptations

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Engelska institutionen

Abstract: This essay is a comparative anlysis of ”Paycheck”, ”The Minority Report” and ”Adjustment Team” by Philip K. Dick and their film adaptations, Paycheck,  Minority Report and The Adjustment Bureau. I am primarily interested in the political message of the original stories and how it is affected in the process of transmediation into film. The political message is clearly reflected in the way the protagonists’ free will relates to the bigger system of power. This relationship can either problematize the protagonist’s struggle, forcing him to sacrifice something, or simplify the political dimension by letting him overcome every single obstacle. The extent of the political message is enhanced by its allegorical meaning, especially when related to the contemporary reality. Therefore, I will investigate how the texts and films can be read allegorically and what impact the process of adaptation has on the allegories. I will use Fredric Jameson’s approach to allegory that treats it as a method of interpretation and a tool of mediation and understanding the diversity of human experience. I argue that the allegorical element functions rather independently of the literal political message. When some allegorical interpretations are lost, new ones, connected to the sociocultural context of the adaptation are created. All three adaptations reduce the scope of the political message found in the original texts, opting for less reflective entertainment or even action cinema. Nevertheless, on the allegorical level, they offer new interpretations that echo their updated sociocultural conditions. Keywords: Philip K. Dick; Political Message; Allegory; Adaptation

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