Movie Review - Dark City (1998)

The man with no memory.
The man with no memory.

Nuture versus Nature

I find this movie to be one of those that makes me think a lot. It has received some good reviews despite it being rather obscure in ways. There are a lot of things that foreshadow later events. Of course I noticed this after having watched it a dozen times. Dark City is dark in more ways than just the perpetual night that reigns.

Rufus Sewell plays a man who wakes up with amnesia and in the search for who he is he learns to truth of his world. John Murdoch doesn’t know who he is. If that wasn’t bad enough he quickly finds out he’s wanted for six murders he doesn’t remember. Nor can he find within him the urge to kill for the sake of killing.

The good wife.
The good wife.
The Strangers
The Strangers
Searching for the impossible.
Searching for the impossible.

Jennifer Connelly plays is ‘wife’ Emma who cheated on him and is led to believe that the killings were his way of getting even. John Hurt is the detective who is hunting him down to pay for the crimes.

Behind this entire situation are creatures called ‘The Strangers’ who inhabit the bodies of the dead and have the ability to alter reality which they call Tuning. When the clock strikes twelve the inhabitants of the city fall into coma like sleep while their world is altered along with their memories. The Strangers are seeking the nature of the human soul, believing this will be the cure that will revive their dying race.

Richard O’Brien was deliciously creepy as Mr. Hand. (Echoes of the Rocky Horror Picture Show.) The mannerisms of the Strangers were all based on O’Brien’s performance.

No past. No future.
No past. No future.
The Strangers are coming.
The Strangers are coming.
John Hurt; investigating shadows.
John Hurt; investigating shadows.

I really enjoy the psychological nature of this movie and recommend with four stars. It makes me think and what I think about is the so-called logic of this movie. No one is exactly as they appear to be. Some mannerisms carry over from personality imprint to personality imprint. But in this city, the Strangers alter the identities of different people every night. Which begs the question; these new identities are accepted by the general populous but for them to have memories a significant number need to be altered by association.

The city exists in perpetual night from 12 to 12. We don’t know if they call that a.m. or p.m. and neither do they. Assuming they are awake for 12 hours and are active and then asleep for 12 hours while the alterations take place that would put Murdoch at getting no sleep at all. Being on the run would preclude that. Yet at the same time you get the impression they’re not asleep for 12 hours. I’ve yet to figure that out. Maybe someone else can explain it to me.

The Strangers have the ability to alter reality, but they don’t have the ability to read minds. I have trouble with the internal logic of that. Of course I could explain it away with their collective consciousness and their inability to be individuals that they can’t make a connection to minds that are individual and unique.

The whole thought of nurture versus nature is explored. What makes us who we are? What is the human soul? Is it the results of genetics or our environment’s impact? Only the Divine knows for sure.

I find this movie thought provoking in many ways. My brain wants to come up with the answers. It’s not that I desire a sequel to this movie, but I can’t help wondering what becomes of this tiny island of humanity lost in space with no knowledge of where their home world is or what their future might bring. Guess I’m funny that way.

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Comments 1 comment

ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

I enjoyed the movie and your hub.

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