I’ve declared that I have not much love for the science fiction movies,because they are more of eye candies and superficial rather than being substantive and thought provoking.
Introducing to you,a Sci-Fi movie that proved me that I was plain wrong-a movie which is not only visually appealing but also manages to holds abstract elements of philosophy in it’s story.
Dark City is a 1998 American neo-noir science fiction film directed by Alex Proyas. The screenplay was written by Proyas, Lem Dobbs and David S. Goyer . The film stars Rufus Sewell ,the protagonist,as John Murdoch Kiefer Sutherland as Dr.Daniel P.Schreber, Jennifer Connelly as Emma Murdoch (the protagonist’s wife), William Hurt as Inspector Frank Bumstead and Ian Richardson as Mr.Book.
Before we get into the conspectus of the movie,let me tell you right off the bat,that this movie requires some patience on viewer’s part.
The first 30 minutes of the movie are utterly confusing,and you will be scratching your head the entire time thinking about what the hell do they mean by terms like ‘Tuning’,and what’s up with all the psychokinesis stuff.
Once you grasp the meaning of the concepts though,you get hooked into the movie big time and that’s when the movie reels you in it.
The movie opens with John Murdoch awakening from sleep in a bath-tub of a hotel, who also happens to be suffering from amnesia.He is absolutely clueless about who he is and what he is doing there.
He gets a phone call from a man who calls himself Dr.Daniel Schreber,and he asks John to flee from the hotel to avoid getting caught by a certain group of people.During the phone talk with Dr.Schreber,John discovers the body of a murdered woman,with a spiral symbol carved on her body and a knife smeared with blood nearby.
Horrified by the scene,he runs away from the hotel,and just after his escape,a group of people wearing black overcoats and hats show up to investigate the scene.In the movie,these are referred to as “Strangers“.
Eventually,the protagonist discovers his name and that he is married to a woman,named,Emma and that he is a prime suspect in a series of murders around the city,and is being chased by Inspector Frank Bumstead for the same,even though he doesn’t remember killing anyone.
Later,John realises that he has powers of psychokinesis,which the ‘Strangers’ also possess and it is referred to as ‘Tuning‘.
By the way,’Psychokinesis’ is the power to alter physical forms by the powers of the mind,with the help of psychic abilities,to be precise.
You can further research about Pschokinesis if you want right here.
John observes that the city remains in the state of perpetual darkness and is void of sun.What’s more puzzling is that nobody seems to take notice of this fact.
At midnight,everyone,except John falls asleep as Strangers stop the time and change the entire picture of the city.Buildings are re-organised and Strangers,with the help of Dr.Schreber ‘inject’ new identities and memories into the minds of the people and the time in the clocks are re-arranged so that when everybody wakes up,they think it’s still night and nothing ever happened.
What is the motivation of Strangers behind it?
You shall see soon.
John,in the attempts to put all the pieces of puzzles together,further explores the city and his identity and finds out that he belongs to a coastal town called Shell Beach,a town that everyone’s have heard of but nobody exaclty knows how to get there.No buses or trains travel there and it feels as if he was trying track down a phantom town.
Meanwhile,the Strangers, perturbed by the fact that a human(John Murdoch) also possess the powers of psychokinesis just like them,inject one of their own men, Mr.Hand, with the memories of John,in hopes of predicting his movement around the city.
Constantly on the run,John is finally caught by Inspector Bumstead who recognises him as innocent.Murdoch unfolds the entire story to Bumstead and questions him about the indefinite darkness of the city,to which the inspector agrees with his point of view.
Together they start looking for Dr.Daniel Schreber and when they find him,he reveals to them that “Strangers” are actually,endangered extra-terrestrial parasites who thrive on the human corpses.They have group-mind (meaning they behave as a single collective consciousness) and that they are experimenting on the humans to unlock the secret of our individuality which they believe will lead to their survival.
In simpler words,they are trying to figure out what it is exactly that makes us humans.
Dr.Schreber further explains that John is an exceptional case who woke up during the Tuning by the Strangers while Schreber was injecting the identity and memories of a murderer in his mind, and he beholds the same powers as Strangers and is the only one who can defeat them.
The trio then embark to find Shell Beach.
Alas!They find out that the town Shell Beach doesn’t exists at all.It’s just a billboard at the edge of the city.
Frustrated and disturbed by the fact,John tears down the bill board which reveals a deep hole into the space.
Yes…you read it right…SPACE!
Right at that moment,Strangers arrive there,including Mr.Hand (the one who got imprinted with the memories of John) who has held Emma as hostage, and a fight is ensued between Strangers and the trio.
During the fight,Inspector Bumstead gets thrown into the space hole which further reveals that the city they are inhabiting in,is created by the Strangers themselves,and is surrounded by a force field.The people living in the city,were abducted from the Earth and brought here for the experiments by the Strangers.
Defeated,John Murdoch is caught by the Strangers and is brought to the home of Strangers,beneath the city.Dr.Schreber is forced to imprint the normal memories into the mind of John.
Dr.Schreber,being fed up of Strangers,betrays them and imprints John with the memories of him realising his abilities of psychokinesis,knowledge about the Strangers and practicing and refining his psychokinesis abilities.
John,who has now full control and power over his psychic abilities,breaks free and battles the Strangers and ultimately vanquishes them by killing their leader,Mr.Book.
With his newfound powers of psychokinesis, he begins to reshape the city-builds mountains and beaches,surrounds the city with the water,returns the sun,and at last creates an actual town named Shell Beach.
The rest of the Strangers,being sensitive to sunlight,start dying.On his way to Shell Beach,Murdoch encounters Mr.Hand,and tells him that if they were trying to figure out what makes a human,they were searching their answer in the wrong place,their heads.
That dialogue in the movie alone was worth watching it.The entire human psychology compressed into a single statement.
Humans are not humans because of their minds,but because of their heart and soul to other beings.
To tell you the truth,I stood up from my couch and applauded at the dialogue.It’s so deep and meaningful that you marvel everytime you hear it.
Dr.Schreber tells John,that his wife Emma was imprinted with new memories and has a new name-Anna, and she won’t be recognising him.
Murdoch,finally opens the door out of the city and steps into the sunlight for the first time.Ahead of him,is a dock with Anna enjoying the waves of ocean (this time created by John himself) with no memories of her relationship with John whatsoever.
He walks upto her and reintroduces himself and both walk together to now an actual town,Shell Beach to begin their relationship once again.
MOVIE ACHIEVEMENTS (YAYs!)
The Original Story
The strength of the movie is in it’s original story.It’s not a rehashed version of any previous Sci-Fi movie that you may have seen.
It is all brand new and shining.
Alex Proyas really did a commendable job carving out a story with such depth, perspective and concepts that you will want to watch it more than once.
The Grim Atmosphere
The entire movie takes place at night-time.This further adds the flavor to the noir nature of the movie.It also has less background scores to keep the story mysterious and not distract the audience from the plot.
I never watched any Rufus Sewell movie prior to this one.He was a completely new face to me and I didn’t know what to expect.
Frankly,I didn’t had any expectation.Boy,was I wrong!
Rufus Sewell is one of the rare actors who understand expressions to be made and executes them impeccably.He doesn’t try,he just becomes the character.
You can see it in his eyes and body language…everything about him changes according to the expressions to be made in the scene.
The supporting cast also did a very praiseworthy job,especially Ian Richardson as Mr.Book.
So,the acting in the movie was also very well done.
MOVIE FAILURES (BOOs)
Can’t think of any,except the movie tests viewer’s patience in the first thirty minutes by throwing a lot of jargon at them,which might make it a little hard to comprehend to some viewers.
Also owing to the noirish nature of the movie,it is not glamorised.You will find this movie very similar to “The Matrix” which was released just a year later and became an instant hit while this movie was a box office bomb.
The Matrix is very glamorised.The camera work and the cinematography of the movie “The Matrix” is top notch, which attracted a large portion of the audience.
CHECK OUT THE TRAILER!
The movie was released at the same time as “Titanic” which hindered the movie’s popularity but it is a movie which you must see.
It woes me to see some of the greatest movies concealed by the umbra of other more popular movies because they were realeased at the same time.
This awesome movie was stricken by the grand Titanic.
Instead of watching some of today’s movies,which are either spinoff or remakes of the older ones,watch the ones which are new in their notions.
If you are a mystery and noir fan,you definitely,sorry,DEFINITELY need to check the movie out.
It’s that good.
Happy movie watching!
Until Next Time