New Line Cinema forced Alex Proyas to include the opening narration by Kiefer Sutherland, which Proyas objected to, saying it was unnecessary. The narration gives away several key plot twists and consequently many fans of the film prefer to watch it with the sound turned off during the narration until Sutherland looks at his pocket watch. Unsurprisingly, the director's cut omits this opening narration.
The music which Inspector Bumstead is playing on his accordion in his very first scene in the movie is a song written in 1939 by a Polish-Jewish composer Jerzy Petersburski which was originally called "Mala blekitna chusteczka" ("Little Blue Handkerchief"). The lyrics were later translated (with slight differences) to many languages and it became especially popular in Soviet WWII era under the title "Siniy Platochek" ("Blue scarf"). The song lyrics tell about an unhappy, lonely man who wanders aimlessly around the world thinking about his lost love which is gone forever. His only memento of his beloved one is the blue handkerchief from the title. As the movie is about our memories, the song actually fits the movie mood quite well.
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".
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
According to Director Alex Proyas commentary on the Director's Cut DVD, test screening audiences were "troubled" by the notion that the entire city wasn't sucked out into space once the Shell City Wall was breached. Thus, a last minute SFX addition of Bumstead and a Stranger drifting through a force field was created.
At the beginning of the film, there is a brief shot of the movie theatre which says "Now Showing, The Evil, Late Show Nightly" and to the right, "Coming Attractions, Book of Dreams" (a previous film by Alex Proyas). At the end of the movie the marquee still says Book of Dreams: 'Welcome to Crateland' (1994) is coming soon, even though the theater and marquee have changed.
This film deals with 'Last Thursdayism', a philosophy described in a satiric comment by 20th-century historian Bertrand Russell, referring to the "Omphalos" papers (1857) of Philip Gosse. Last Thursdayism says that the world (with us and our own basic memories included) could have been created recently, even last Thursday, but we cannot demonstrate such a thing because the world would have been created to look like an older world.