Dr Shreber
Dark city
Waking up
The syringe
Emma and John
Emma and Frank
Shreber and Frank
Dark City

Review of Alex Proyas's film
   A man wakes up in a hotel room, next to a corpse. As he flees in terror and wanders around the streets of the city helplessly, he comes to realise that he has no memories left whatsoever. Unable to remember his own name or even the existence of his wife, he finds himself hunted both by the police and a group of strange people. Not knowing what to believe and who to trust, he is however convinced that he is not a murderer and struggles to discover the truth. Some fugitive memories are sometimes triggered by the people and places he encounters, but can he truly rely on them? And why is everyone suddenly falling asleep at midnight except himself and the people who seek to kill him? How can he explain the mysterious powers he seems to have and the strange events that take place when the city is asleep?
   Dark City is the most thought-provoking, brilliant, beautiful and original film I have ever seen. When viewers first see this fascinating film, they can only try and guess what is going on, just like the main character John, wondering who to trust and what to make of all the strange things happening. For instance, there is a scene where a prostitutes picks him up but he walks off before anything happens and leaves her unharmed, though later on in the story she is found dead. Is John a reliable narrator? Does he hide something from himself and the viewers? Or is he innocent? Has he gone insane? Is he a murderer? Does he need the help of the doctor and of this wife he cannot even remember or are they just traitors? Is he a victim of someone's experiments and what are they exactly? Or is he just the victim of his own paranoid imagination? Did he make up this eerie story to justify his monstruous crimes to himself? Has he murdered women because of his feelings of betrayal steming from his wife's affair?
   The mood is appropriately suffocating and unsettling as nothing seems real and there is nothing solid and sure to hang on to anymore. It is like a journey into a nightmare, where there is no such thing as a fixed physical reality. A forced trip into the unconscious, where dreamers must face their deeper fears and the unacceptable aspects of their personality which are hidden there. Suddenly trapped in such a world, John cannot accept the repulsive vision of himself that he is being given by crushing evidence. Terrified of himself, of what he may have done and do again, he struggles to find himself, his true nature.
   This film reflects on the evasive and subjective nature of human memory, but also on the nature of humanity, individuality and the soul. An interesting scene is when Dr Shreber talks about someone's past. The 'ingredients' are so common, it is reminiscent of the concept of the universal memory, as if everyone went through the same predictable things in life. It can also be seen as a questioning of people's lack of awareness of the diverse power structures which control them.
   Visually, the film is outstanding. Images are highly stylised, mainly composed of intensely dark colours, and there are many beautiful plays with mirrors, light, shadows and figures. The work on the framing is also skilfully and efficiently handled, with an extensive use of extreme angle shots, both low and high which reflect here feelings of threat and oppression. The intricate narrative as well as the photography are reminiscent of film noir. The acting is irreproachable and the music effectively emphasises the various emotions of the characters. If there are any flaws in the film, I cannot name any.
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