I recently heard Dark City (directed and co-written by Alex Proyas) referred to as a film that is under-seen, but not underrated. Indeed, there are two types of horror fans: Those who love Dark City and those who haven’t experienced it. The 1990s will never be regarded as horror’s greatest decade, but Dark City is one of the best; a sleeper and a cult classic that stands the test of time. Its unique mix of noir, sci-fi, and procedural crime drama set in a morphing world controlled by an ominous collective was unprecedented in its day and the film remains a beautiful anomaly.
Official Synopsis: John Murdoch (Rufus Sewell) awakens alone in a strange hotel to find that he is wanted for a series of brutal murders. The problem is that he can’t remember whether he committed the murders or not. For one brief moment, he is convinced that he has gone completely mad. Murdoch seeks to unravel the twisted riddle of his identity. As he edges closer to solving the mystery, he stumbles upon a fiendish underworld controlled by a group of ominous beings collectively known as the Strangers.
If you haven’t seen Dark City, do your best to remedy the situation immediately. If you have, the video below (released a couple days ago) will remind you why the film is so awesome while delving into some subtext that might make your head spin! YouTuber and film historian Renegade Cut explains Dark City in terms of a memory experiment—which the film essentially is.
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By exploring concepts like Personal Identity Theory, Body Theory, and Memory Theory, Renegade Cut takes us into a philosophical maze with no end or beginning. He discusses the idea of “self” as a random collection of impressions, a series of fluid happenstance in which any sense of individuality is merely an illusion. By contrast, the video proves that identity is a necessary component of social order; that no one can effectively talk themselves out of a murder rap by claiming they aren’t the same person today that they were yesterday.
Getting dizzy yet?
The Strangers function as a collective, and therefore believe that individuality is what gives a sentient being its soul. But the film argues that the soul is something deeper than an ethereal embodiment of a lifetime’s experiences. The question is: If all of our memories were erased, would we somehow know what kind of person we were/are? If you’re ready to dive down that rabbit hole, press play and prepare to be mind-boggled.
Official Synopsis: An analysis of memory theory and personal identity in Dark City. Other topics include the human soul and sci-fi as a tool of philosophy.
About Renegade Cut on YouTube: Renegade Cut is an analytical series about film techniques and philosophies espoused by individual films. Common topics include politics and social issues. Word Funk is an autobiographical nightmare podcast. It cannot be described.
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