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Dark City (1998)

R  |   |  Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi  |  27 February 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 149,298 users   Metascore: 66/100
Reviews: 616 user | 222 critic | 23 from Metacritic.com

A man struggles with memories of his past, including a wife he cannot remember, in a nightmarish world with no sun and run by beings with telekinetic powers who seek the souls of humans.



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9 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Karl Harris
Frank Gallacher ...
Hotel Manager / Vendor
Justin Monjo ...
Taxi Driver
Mr. Rain


John Murdoch awakens alone in a strange hotel to find that he has lost his memory and is wanted for a series of brutal and bizarre murders. While trying to piece together his past, he stumbles upon a fiendish underworld controlled by a group of beings known as The Strangers who possess the ability to put people to sleep and alter the city and its inhabitants. Now Murdoch must find a way to stop them before they take control of his mind and destroy him. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Forget the Sun. Forget Time. Forget Your Memories. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for violent images and some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

27 February 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dark City  »

Box Office


$27,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$5,576,953 (USA) (27 February 1998)


£848,615 (UK) (19 June 1998)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The name of Kiefer Sutherland's character, Daniel Schreber, is the same as that of a man who wrote a book titled "Memoirs of My Nervous Illness" during the heights of a period in which he was institutionalized for schizophrenia. The book has become a standard reading for many psychiatrists and psychologists, and many of the theories of both Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung were based on it (Freud never actually met Schreber, though). "Dark City" borrows heavily from the concept of "fleetingly-improvised men" which are found within Schreber's "Memoirs". See more »


(at around 3 mins) When John Murdoch wakes up in the bathtub, the blood on his forehead changes position several times. See more »


[first lines]
Dr. Schreber: [voiceover] First there was darkness. Then came the strangers. They were a race as old as time itself. They had mastered the ultimate technology. The ability to alter physical reality by will alone. They called this ability "Tuning". But they were dying. Their civilization was in decline, and so they abandoned their world seeking a cure for their own mortality. Their endless journey brought them to a small, blue world in the farthest corner of the galaxy. Our world. Here they ...
See more »


Referenced in A Detective Story (2003) See more »


The Night Has 1000 Eyes
Written by Marilyn Garrett, Dorothy Wayne (as Dottie Wayne) and Ben Weisman
Sung by Anita Kelsey
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A fantastic science-fiction masterpiece!
6 February 1999 | by (New Jersey, USA) – See all my reviews

An absolutely brilliant and nightmarish production! DARK CITY is an enriching and surreal experience, full of beautiful images and powerful symbolism.

John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) wakes up one night, resting inside a bathtub. He look around, realizing that he is inside a hotel room. In a state of shock, he finds a bloody corpse lying near his bed. Then...reality sinks in. He discovers an appalling revelation which he cannot accept. He is wanted for murder on six separate accounts. How does all of this fit in when he thought of himself as a completely sane person? He does not believe he was responsible for these murders, but the cops think otherwise as they chase him down... Next, a swarm of humanoid creatures known only as the "Strangers" have summon him. For unknown reasons, Murdoch happens to fit into their intricate schemes for conquest...

This is just scratching the surface of the premise for Alex Proyas' moody and engaging film, DARK CITY. DARK CITY is a very vivid film with an original concept. As the story expands and the main character must go into the heart of the matter, he learns that there's a conspiracy going on "mixing and matching" different identities together into one whole. The Strangers are the masters...the inhabitants are their puppets...and the city is their playground...

DARK CITY essentially has gorgeous photography, capturing aspects of the entire city where imagination paints the picture and provides the details. This film relies a lot on imagery and the fantastic production values are laced with a perplexing storyline that keeps the viewer's eyes glued to the screen. The eye-catching, stylish future noir designs a visionary world, evinced in the setting of the Big Apple itself, New York City during the time period of the 1940s. Dark City's visual backgrounds enliven a difficult and incomprehensible plot to comprehend and the special effects create an astounding experience, traveling into a vortex of mankind's phantasm.

DARK CITY, in addition to the superb background settings, allows for character development as well. The audiences grows greatly in a moment of eagerness as they want to determine what will happen next to the characters in this film. As always, the cast is wonderful. Rufus Sewell is excellent as John Murdoch, convincing as an ordinary man on the run from both the law and the strangers. Jennifer Connelly is sensuous and appealing as Murdoch's loving and concerned wife. William Hurt plays his cards right as a straitlaced NYPD inspector, Frank Bumstead, who keeps pursuing John Murdoch. As an eccentric psychiatrist, Dr. Daniel Paul Schreber, Kiefer Sutherland conveys a confused doctor who shares a frightening connection to these Strangers.

DARK CITY is splendid viewing injected with a theme about the loss of identity and the destruction of individualism in order to create an ideal society. DARK CITY is an unforgettable, breathtaking visual experience! This film is enriched with layers of characterization, a plot where there is more than meets the eye, and venturous special effects. DARK CITY is recommended viewing with the lights out! A thoroughly cogent flick which keeps you guessing what is going on. DARK CITY is a fine treat for the eyes and mind. This is one journey where you reach the point of no return!

RATING: *** out of ****.

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