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Dark City (1998)


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Amazingly, we don't have a thread on this film yet, which topped both my top ten list for 1998 and Roger Ebert's as well.

I hear a rumour that director Alex Proyas is prepping a "director's cut" for DVD some time this year. Does anyone here know anything about this?

FWIW, my Books & Culture article. And link to the thread on Proyas's later film, I, Robot starring Will Smith.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Two things...

Proyas has talked about a "special edition" of Dark City on his website's forum, but hasn't given out any details. And here's an article with some (rumored) details on a potential "director's cut".

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Ebert blabbed about it last November in his Great Movies review, but he was premature. (Proyas last February: "Unfortunately Roger Ebert (I love the guy dearly, he's been a huge champion of the film) but he kind of let the cat out of the bag before anyone was ready...all I can say, and I know I've been saying this for a while now, is there will be an announcement in the next few months.") I actually do have some insider's info (which, incidentally, will please Tarkovsky fans) but I won't do an Ebert just yet!

Edited by Doug C
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Doug C wrote:

: I actually do have some insider's info (which, incidentally, will please Tarkovsky fans) . . .

Dark City and Tarkovsky together!? :blink:

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Enjoy Matt!

Doug C wrote:

: I actually do have some insider's info (which, incidentally, will please Tarkovsky fans) . . .

Dark City and Tarkovsky together!? :blink:

What's all this about? Any further info on this riddle?

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

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All I can say is, a few months ago the producer of the DVD contacted MoC asking for a Tarkovsky talking head for a featurette, and my name was suggested...but you know how these things go.

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I saw this film at a relative's house shortly after "Dark City" was released on DVD. It blew me away visually, but seemed to lose a step, story-wise, in its last act. I can't remember the details; maybe there's a tacked-on feeling to the ending? Something like that. It seemed out of character with the rest of the film, but that didn't really bother me. Ya gotta have hope, ya know?

This new cut is impetus to revisit the film. I'll keep checking here for further details. Thanks for the heads-up.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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You're not alone Christian. I've never completely understood the adoration of this film that is so narratively flawed, especially, as you say in the third act.

There are those however, for whom narrative is not a primary consideration.... communists. :)

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You're not alone Christian. I've never completely understood the adoration of this film that is so narratively flawed, especially, as you say in the third act.

I saw Dark City when it was released and was completely underwhelmed. I went to see it on a whim because it had great visuals, but the story didn't involve me at all.

What makes this movie worthwhile?

"If the Christian subculture exists primarily to condemn the world, you can be sure that Jesus is not having any part of it." - John Fischer

"Ignorance is excusable when it is borne like a cross, but when it is wielded like an axe, and with moral indignation, then it becomes something else indeed." - Flannery O'Connor

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Wait a minute. I don't want to be lumped in with the nay-sayers. Like I wrote earlier, I liked this film a great deal, being easily caught up in visually stunning films. But I don't want to overlook a perceived (but ill remembered) narrative flaw in the film. I don't think that sinks the film by any means, but I'd be interested in rewatching it and thinking again about the film, which I recall as being rather complex and challenging.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I saw this film at a relative's house shortly after "Dark City" was released on DVD. It blew me away visually, but seemed to lose a step, story-wise, in its last act. I can't remember the details; maybe there's a tacked-on feeling to the ending?

Undoubtedly. But I have always just lumped that short-coming into something very common to sci-fi literature: epic first and second acts with a muddling sprint to the finish.

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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I saw this film at a relative's house shortly after "Dark City" was released on DVD. It blew me away visually, but seemed to lose a step, story-wise, in its last act. I can't remember the details; maybe there's a tacked-on feeling to the ending?

Undoubtedly. But I have always just lumped that short-coming into something very common to sci-fi literature: epic first and second acts with a muddling sprint to the finish.

Surely some of the third acts problems have to do with the flying jellyfish-like creature design--its been years since I've seen this. I recall liking it a great deal, and especially intrigued with its philosophical statement--that we're than the sum of our memories and brain chemistry. But flying jellyfish baddies are always kind of anti-climatic, don't you find?

Proyas' visuals were wonderfully done, and his work with the visual design--especially with the creatures in human form, and the "tuning" was very cool.

Edited by Buckeye Jones
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And now ... a SEQUEL?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Undoubtedly. But I have always just lumped that short-coming into something very common to sci-fi literature: epic first and second acts with a muddling sprint to the finish.

When I saw the movie for the first time I liked it a lot, thought it was really cool, and felt that the last part of the movie was rushed. Maybe the studio decided to trim some of the "fluff" out of the end, which makes me think that a Director's Cut might actually be a good idea.

You know, this was really the only movie I ever saw that made me think "this would make a better TV miniseries than a full length movie" -- simply because it would give everyone involved more time to tell the story...

And now ... a SEQUEL?

I can't imagine how a sequel would work, unless the overall tone of the sequel changed. By the end of the first movie

the bad guy aliens were defeated, the hero set the world back on track and was busy re-introducing himself to his wife.

I admit I'm not quite as creative as the people involved in that piece was, but if it's going to continue the story I can't see how it would do that while remaining faithful to the first and have the same feel. It might have to go more "hard SF" by dealing with

the ramifications of being in a relatively tiny ecosystem floating about in space, with no-one left capable of repairing any of the technology that keeps that ecosystem running

.

Which would be an interesting story in its own right, in my opinion, but not really in the same vein of the first movie...

Edited by The Baptist Death Ray

It had a face like Robert Tilton's -- without the horns.

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I think it might be interesting to explore how one man's godlike powers go to his head -- how the hero becomes the villain, so to speak -- but beyond that, you'd have to introduce new elements to the story that just aren't there in the first movie, and I couldn't begin to guess what Proyas might have in mind.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I watched this again over the weekend, due to this thread, and had an opposite reaction to it from my experience years ago. I was completely immersed in the story and have thought about it quite a few times since the viewing. A few things have changed personally for me since I saw the film years ago which may have helped me to burrow in better. I have a greater understanding of both film noir and German expressionism these days and have seen many more movies from each of these styles. So I understood Ebert's appreciation from the viewing itself, without needing him to tell me why I should like it. Then in listening to his whole commentary (which was delightful I might add) he was only confirming things that I already understood about the film itself -- things that I'd probably missed during my first watch years ago, only due to ignorance and inexperience.

I look forward to the longer version, and I hope it is out soon. I'd really like to compare it to my recent viewing.

-s.

Edited by stef

In an interstellar burst, I am back to save the Universe.

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I really liked this film and was totally engrossed in it until the "dueling foreheads" climax near the end. It made me laugh and I have a hard time taking it seriously. I know I shouldn't let the cheesy effects taint my view of the whole film but I felt cheated by how amazing the rest of the film was and how funny that part looked.

"Did you mention, perhaps, what line of industrial lubricants Jesus would have endorsed?"

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Yeah, the special effects showdown at the end is the least interesting part of the film, but, otherwise, I think it's one of the more compelling -- and certainly more stylistic -- "Hollywood" films of the last decade or so. In fact, I think one reason I've never cared too much for The Matrix is because it felt so uninventive after Dark City.

I taught Dark City once during a unit on the Gothic. We watched it the same week we read Edgar Allen Poe's "William Wilson" and Freud's essay on "The Uncanny," and it worked really well. The students who had been intimidated by Freud's (and even Poe's) language were quick to see how so many of the techniques/ideas discussed by the writers were being used for similar affect by Proyas.

This thread has given me the urge to rewatch and write about this film.

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MichaelRay, I've always felt the same way. The duel looks more like a Saturday morning cartoon climax. Like Unbreakable, it's a beautifully crafted film that stumbles at the finish line.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Me, I actually like the climax, and all that mayhem. FWIW.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Re-watched this film last night (fourth or fifth viewing for me, overall) thanks in part to this thread. Wow. An awesome piece of filmmaking. I loved it yet again for its beauties!

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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  • 1 year later...

Dark City Director's cut coming out! George Lucas Style

. . . complete with beefed up special effects and a new and improved sound mix.

Twitch, July 16

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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