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City of Ember (2008)

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For generations, the people of the City of Ember have flourished in an amazing world of glittering lights. But Ember's once powerful generator is failing ... and the great lamps that illuminate the city are starting to flicker.


Gil Kenan


Caroline Thompson (screenplay), Jeanne Duprau (book)
4,856 ( 387)
6 nominations. See more awards »





Complete credited cast:
Saoirse Ronan ... Lina Mayfleet
David Ryall ... Chief Builder
Harry Treadaway ... Doon Harrow
Mary Kay Place ... Mrs. Murdo
Tim Robbins ... Loris Harrow
Bill Murray ... Mayor Cole
Mackenzie Crook ... Looper
Toby Jones ... Barton Snode
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Liam Burke Liam Burke ... Mr. Boaz
Brid Ni Chionaola Brid Ni Chionaola ... Seely Schnap
Maureen Dow Maureen Dow ... Mrs. Sample
Lucinda Dryzek ... Lizzie Bisco
Lorraine Hilton Lorraine Hilton ... Miss Thorn
B.J. Hogg B.J. Hogg ... Mayor's Guard
Marianne Jean-Baptiste ... Clary


When mankind is about to come to an end, a group of scientists decide to create and populate a city deep underground. The city of Ember is to last for 200 years after which its inhabitants are to retrieve from a strong box instructions to return to the surface. Over time however, the message is lost and life in Ember is rapidly deteriorating. Their power supply is failing and food is being rationed. It's left to two young adults to unearth the secret of Ember and to lead the way out. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Lights out. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for mild peril and some thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

10 October 2008 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Cidade das Sombras See more »


Box Office


$55,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,129,473, 12 October 2008, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$7,873,007, 15 January 2009

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Playtone,Walden Media See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Toby Jones & Mackenzie Crook have been in a number of projects together: See more »


(at around 34 mins) When the girl shows the piece of glass from the box to her friend, she says "it's so shiny", this does not suggest she has never seen glass before. When glass ages in the open it slowly turns an orange or brown color, like those in the city. However, this piece by virtue of being inside the strong box has stayed clear. See more »


Loris Harrow: The main thing is, pay attention. Pay close attention to everything, everything you see. Notice what no one else notices, and you'll know what no one else knows. What you get is what you get. What you do with what you get, that's more the point.
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Referenced in Fred: Fred: A Star in His Own Mind (2008) See more »


Mayor's Fanfare
Written and Performed by Douglas Pipes
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Dark City
13 August 2016 | by Prismark10See all my reviews

City of Ember is a family comedy adventure with dark undertones maybe because it is set in a vast future underground city powered by a massive generator which has become increasingly erratic.

The reason that underground city of Ember was constructed because of a past cataclysmic event which meant the leaders of the city had to go underground for 200 years and the mayor of the new city was entrusted with a box that counted down each year and would past down mayor to mayor until it got put in the back of a wardrobe.

Over 200 years later the city is run by porky corrupt mayor (Bill Murray) and the citizens live on cans of foods and whatever vegetables that are grown underground. Jobs are assigned randomly, when people went underground it seems the Asians and Latinos were left out but a few black people were let in just to keep up the diversity of the cast.

Two teenagers, Doon Harrow (Harry Treadaway) and Lina Mayfleet (Saoirse Ronan) who have been given newly assigned roles discover a possible route out of this dark, corrupt, dying pit. Doon's father, Loris (Tim Robbins) previously tried to escape and Doon has been determined to find out what is the problem with the generator.

The film starts out brightly with some sarcastic humour supplied by Murray but it soon starts to unravel. The film is an adaptation of a book and the screenplay does not seemed to have been thought out. It starts out very much like a critique of communist societies. The fat mayor is a clue that all is not well, a bit like Animal Farm.

The second half then starts to resemble a half baked adventure film as the two teens start to follow clues laid down 200 years earlier by the builders of the new city and the climax is borrowed from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom but with some ropy CGI.

The film was rather disappointing, I think the the source material was gutted to make a generic family action film.

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