Consider the scene where Murdoch and Emma, through a glass window, express their recognition of love for one another, even as they intellectually realize that they have just met. While implausible, in some sense, the film makes what poet John Keats would call a Negatively Capable leap of illogic. It is one that, in real terms, is silly, but works within the film. After all, if we can suspend our disbelief for all the pseudoscience involved, suspending it for love being more than a product of the material world is not that difficult. While Proyas and Goyer had no problems with this concept, Dobbs claims to not buy it — he feels that one’s soul is, and can only be, the sum of one’s lifetime memories; that home is always in your head. While none of the commentaries would be on my all time best commentaries list, not a one bores, bogs down in minutia, nor rambles too far from what is onscreen. Overall, three good, solid commentaries. The Director’s cut is shown in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.
Dark City is a film that will only grow with time, for not only is it a bottleneck work of art, but it’s a transcendent film. Like 2001: A Space Odyssey, it transcends the limits of sci fi. Similarly, claims that the film is Gothic, noir, Expressionist, etc. are similarly shortsighted, as well are those which liken the film’s narrative to Kafka or Orwell. The clear progenitor of this film is in fact Rod Serling, creator of the television show The Twilight Zone. But the film makes use of imagery from sources few have ever noticed, from campy predecessors in science fiction — the scene of Murdoch on The Strangers’ wheel is highly derivative of the flying death scenes in Logan’s Run, and the early scenes of The Strangers causing the city to sleep for a tuning, with cars in the middle of traffic-jammed roads, is a steal straight from the opening scenes of Federico Fellini’s 8½. This diversity, however, just proves a point I’ve long made, that greatness is a difference of kind not merely degree.
Great films, and works of art, like Dark City, transcend their natal genres, and join a higher club, for they have more in common with the great films of other genres, than they do with lesser examples of their genre. And, the bottleneck status of Dark City also proves another point. German filmmaker Werner Herzog has long declared that our culture (cinematic or not) is currently starved for images, especially new images for a new age. I’ve never bought that, and a film like Dark City disproves Herzog’s point. Images are always recycled, as are stories, and until mankind gets into outer space and experiences new things, new images are going to be relatively scarce. What I believe Herzog meant, however, was that the old images, stories, and ideas, need to be made re-new, and this is the essence of an artistic bottleneck, be it artwork or artist. The old is all filtered through that bottleneck and presented in new ways, mixed with new things, and, most of all, made better.