Dark City begins with a narrative statement by Kiefer Sutherland as Dr. Daniel Poe Schreber. We are told that first came the Darkness and then came "The Strangers," a race as old as time itself. They had mastered the ultimate technology: the ability to alter physical reality by will alone, by "tuning." However, they were a dying civilization in decline so they abandoned their world, seeking a cure for their own mortality. They found a small blue world in the farthest corner of the galaxy where they found what they thought that they had been searching for. At this point Dr. Schreber admits that he helps The Strangers conduct their experiments, betraying his own kind in the process. Dr. Schreber then pulls out his pocket watch, and we see the time approach midnight and slowly all activity in the city comes to a total standstill and all the people fall asleep.
Dark City is about what it means to be human, and that goes beyond our mere evolutionary status. Central to the story is the human heart, our 'soul' [with no religious connections]. It deals with human memories and their companon, time. After the arrival of The Strangers, all human memories are newly fabricated at the stroke of midnight.
Roger Ebert writes a fascinating critique of the film and metions that he, along with a group, saw Dark City as a totality, and then spent four days going through it frame by frame. In my humble opinion it deserves this type of examination if you are devoted to fine film making and story telling. "Sometimes during the shot-by-shot analysis, we simply froze a frame and regarded it. Some of the street scenes echo paintings by Edward Hopper or Jack Vettriano. This is not only a beautiful film but a generous one, which supplies rich depth and imagination and many more details than are really necessary to tell the story. Small wonder that the name Bumstead appears, perhaps in honor of Henry Bumstead, one of the greatest Hollywood art directors. The world created by the Strangers seems borrowed from 1940s film noir; we see fedoras, cigarettes, neon signs, automats, older cars . . . "
Dark City has not been available here in Thailand, so last week I wrote and asked a friend who lives in London, and will be visiting here next month, to get a copy for me there. I first saw Dark City in 1998 in the city of Veracruz, actually twice on the same day. To the best of my knowledge it has never been shown on any of the three movie channels of our local satellite service during the eight years that I have lived here in Chiang Mai.
Synchronicity seems to occur in my life amazing certain regularity, as evidenced by the fact that last night my son and I watched Dark City on the local Cinemax channel. And of course it began at midnight.