Michel Gondry Adapting Philip K. Dick Novel ‘Ubik’

Now that Michel Gondry has done the big studio thing with The Green Hornet he is free to focus on any of the number of projects that he’s been cooking over the years. The We and I is possibly his next film, which is a semi-documentary about group dynamics as seen in a bunch of kids on a school bus. (Really!) There’s also the animated Megalomania, which is a collaboration with his son Paul, and possibly a film (or project) with Bjork and the time travel movie Return of the Ice Kids.

Now there is one more possible project: an adaptation of Ubik, one of the stranger novels in Philip K. Dick‘s extensive catalog.

The news comes from Allocine (via The Playlist) because the director revealed his intent to adapt the novel while attending the launch of his exhibit The Factory Movie Lovers at the Centre Pompidou in Paris. The novel is perfect for Mr. Gondry — it’s a big mindfuck with slippery layers of perception and reality and some weird, lowbrow humor. It’s a bit like a very concentrated version of the story ideas in Lost, especially towards the end. (There was at least one explicit Ubik reference in the show, as well as references to other novels from the author.)

Here’s a basic recap:

Joe Chip works for Glen Runciter’s anti-psi security agency, which hires out its talents to block telepathic snooping and paranormal dirty tricks. When its special team tackles a big job on the Moon, something goes terribly wrong. Runciter is killed, it seems–but messages from him now appear on toilet walls, traffic tickets, or product labels. Meanwhile, fragments of reality are timeslipping into past versions: Joe Chip’s beloved stereo system reverts to a hand-cranked 78 player with bamboo needles. Why does Runciter’s face appear on U.S. coins? Why the repeated ads for a hard-to-find universal panacea called Ubik (“safe when taken as directed”)? The true, chilling state of affairs slowly becomes clear, though the villain isn’t who Joe Chip thinks. And this is Dick country, where final truths are never quite final and–with the help of Ubik–the reality/illusion balance can still be tilted the other way.

Possible spoiler alert: Philip K. Dick’s wife has explained that the substance Ubik is basically a representation of God, which comes as a sort of precursor to the very unusual faith he developed a few years later. (That involved celestial communication via laser, living parallel lives and possession by the prophet Elijah. Read the VALIS novels — VALIS, The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer — to get a lot of that info.)

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