Sunday, April 10, 2011

DARK CITY (1998)

We all love memory loss, memory theft and memory inception, Christopher Nolan and Hollywood gave us enough puzzling exercises. How about getting it all packaged in one film which didn’t get as much audience, acclaim and popularity as ‘Memento’ or ‘Inception’ and yet it’s as great as both of them and let me tell you very honestly and without exaggeration that while watching it gives me enough clues to say that it must be surely remained a strong inspiration behind Nolan’s idea and execution of ‘Inception’!

John Murdoch wakes up from his sleep to witness a nightmare about his own existence. He completely lost his memory and the world outside is too hostile to survive for him. He’s wanted man for strange group of men who want him dead, he’s wanted man for city police as prime suspect of serial killer who killed several hookers, he’s wanted man for his doctor who knows about the experiment done on him and he’s wanted man for his own estranged beloved wife. Alex Proyas’ ‘Dark City’ starts with intriguing beginning and as it moves further post half hour, it gives you absolutely mind-blowing thrilling experience about human memory till its end.

If Nolan’s ‘Memento’ is a mind bending personal jigsaw puzzle exercise about memory loss of its protagonist that involves active participation of its audience to fathom it fully in single viewing; Proyas’ ‘Dark City’ is straight but highly intriguing one grand exercise on epical scale where not just the man but the whole city’s memory turned to transformation as clock ticks 12 at night. It’s a city where sun never exists and erasing memory of people is daily routine. It is difficult to say what’s fake and what’s true memory where everything is fabrication and it would be considered a great spoiler and insult to the film and writer-director Alex Proyas, if I’ll say anything further about its labyrinthine plot. It is hard to categorize the film into one particular genre and yet it has elemental and atmospheric ingredients of well made mystery, thriller, sci-fi and Noir.

Brilliant production design, setting and special effects are well packaged to correspond to its awesome plot and theme narrated, unfolded and tightly edited the way to get you hooked to your seats. It has stunning and bizarre visual textures with touch of German Expressionism and it reminds me one of my favorite silent masterpiece ‘Metropolis’. While reading it on net, I come to know that the film was unfortunately released the same week of ‘Titanic’ and while remaining neck to neck in first week, it’s ‘Titanic’ magic that ruled that year to audience and awards.

A modern masterpiece and highly recommended to all who yet haven’t seen it and please go for Director’s cut version.


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