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Dark City (1998)

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A man struggles with memories of his past, which includes a wife he cannot remember, and a nightmarish world without a sun.

Director:

Alex Proyas

Writers:

Alex Proyas (story), Alex Proyas (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
2,167 ( 405)
10 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rufus Sewell ... John Murdoch
William Hurt ... Inspector Frank Bumstead
Kiefer Sutherland ... Dr. Daniel P. Schreber
Jennifer Connelly ... Emma Murdoch
Richard O'Brien ... Mr. Hand
Ian Richardson ... Mr. Book
Bruce Spence ... Mr. Wall
Colin Friels ... Walenski
John Bluthal ... Karl Harris
Mitchell Butel Mitchell Butel ... Husselbeck
Melissa George ... May
Frank Gallacher Frank Gallacher ... Stromboli
Ritchie Singer ... Hotel Manager / Vendor
Justin Monjo Justin Monjo ... Taxi Driver
Nicholas Bell ... Mr. Rain
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

They built the city to see what makes us tick. Last night one of us went off. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Australia | USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 February 1998 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dark City See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$27,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,576,953, 1 March 1998, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$14,378,331

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$12,821,985
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

An over-sized version of Dr. Schreber's syringe (roughly a meter long) was built for the close up shots of the needle being extended so that its surface details would be visible in the focal plane of the camera lens. See more »

Goofs

(at around 7 mins) John Murdoch's wife sings in a club toward the beginning of the film. Though her lyrics match lip movement, the rest of the band is out of sync (drums, bass, etc.). See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Alternate Versions

SPOILER: In the director's cut, there is additional footage showing that the hooker John meets at the automat has a daughter. When Emma and Inspector Bumstead go to the hooker's apartment, Emma finds the daughter under a bed with a drawing showing the Strangers killing her mother. See more »

Connections

References Twentieth Century Oz (1976) See more »

Soundtracks

Sway
Written by Norman Gimbel and Pablo Beltrán Ruiz (as Pablo Beltran Ruiz)
Sung by Anita Kelsey
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
I think Alex Proyas had a stroke of genius in the making of this movie. One of the most original dark sci-fi movies I've seen in a long time.
15 June 1999 | by nitehawk-8See all my reviews

John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) wakes up in an eerie hotel, naked and in the bathtub, with no memories and blood on his forehead. (I couldn't imagine a more strange and frightening experience.) The ring of the hotel phone breaks the silence-- a strange man on the other end tells him he must leave because there are people looking for him. Many events such as this one unfold in Dark City, where "man has no past... and humanity has no future".

Dark City has been passed over by so many critics it's depressing. I think that it should at least have been up for "original screenplay" or SOMETHING at the Oscars to reward Alex Proyas for his fantastic vision. I fail to see why so many people label this movie "noir" like it's BAD or something. Being dark and twisted is not a crime, and despite some other people's comments, this movie is NOT just for the trenchcoat-wearing masses (or if it is, maybe the rest of you can learn something from Goths). If you like sci-fi, dark plots and having reality be so well distorted that you don't realize it IS, so you will love Dark City. (People who have seen the Matrix BEFORE this movie MUST see it, it is very similar in these three respects).

I gave it a 9 out of 10 ONLY because I thought the ending fight scene was a bit weak. Great for a fight scene, but because the rest of the movie focuses on John Murdoch's quest to discover his past and the eerie, ominous happenings in the city, the climax seemed hastily thrown together, as if the crew all of a sudden remembered they had a deadline to meet and could no longer continue the plot in the previous fashion.

The visuals in this movie were absolutely stunning. The effects were NOT used to substitute for the plot, like other movies such as Starship Troopers, Lost in Space and Alien: Resurrection. They were used only as needed and were breathtaking. The editing is NOT as choppy as is rumored, it only lends to the power of the movie. There are some heart-stopping images in Dark City. Watch for the Strangers' clock, views of the city and John's memories.

Proyas takes ideas and ambience from many other movies but integrates them all neatly into Dark City. Gotham City is clearly seen as is Metropolis and other influences such as Ed Hopper's "Nighthawks" dominate in the diner scenes. The forty-ish era (yet strangely futuristic) city is known to be populated, and yet it is ominously empty (hence one of Hopper's main themes, isolation in large cities). (It's especially quiet at midnight, hehehehe... ;D ) This 40's era ambience together with the sci-fi fantasy undercurrent makes for a very interesting feeling while watching.

I'm happy that Kiefer Sutherland, Richard O'Brien (of Rocky Horror fame) and William Hurt agreed to do this movie, it gave Dark City just that much more validation in the USA (I wish things weren't like this, but they are). Kiefer Sutherland is absolutely wonderful and convincing as the doctor/scientist Dr.Schreber, and Rufus Sewell is a properly confused yet determined John Murdoch. Many critics say that William Hurt's character, the detective, and Jennifer Connelly's Emma Murdoch could have used a little more development, but I think part of the point of Dark City was that you don't really know who people are (not to mention yourself). Richard O'Brien and his character's whole race creep me out every time I see the movie, but he's especially frightening and a strange character. I had to resist the urge to talk like a Stranger after seeing the movie a few times.

Trevor Jones, one of my favorite movie composers, did the score for Dark City, and I must say it's very apropo. The deep, bass vocals and frantic themes are some of my favorite aspects, but "Memories of Shell Beach" is a haunting, beautiful song as well. Some of my other favorite scores by him are the Dark Crystal and Last of the Mohicans.

Altogether, I think Alex Proyas had a stroke of genius in the making of this movie. One of the most original dark sci-fi movies I've seen in a long time. It deserves its place with the Matrix, 12 Monkeys and others, pioneers in a field so changed (usually for the worse) since Star Wars and since earlier sci-fi classics. I hope these won't be the last of a (dare I say it?) dying race of movies that have true creativity and originality.


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