This is an unofficial audio introduction for the “directors cut” of the science-fiction neo-noir film Dark City.
This introduction contains information about the story, locations, design aesthetic and the cast and costumes. It runs for approximately [calculate] minutes. It contains mild spoilers for the film.
In Australia, Dark City is classified "M" for mature audiences. It contains Violence and infrequent coarse language. Please check the rating in your country.
The running time for the film is approximately 107 minutes, or 1 hour and 47 minutes.
The screenplay is by Alex Proyas, Lem Dobbs and David S. Goyer, and the film was directed by Alex Proyas.
The design aesthetic of Dark City is grounded in classic American Film Noir movies of the 40s and 50s. Film Noir is characterised by expressive camera angles, an emphasis on light and shadow, and story elements and themes such as crime, moral ambiguity and existential philosophy. Film Noir is often filmed in black and white, and while Dark City is not a black and white film, it has a muted palette of colours.
The main cast for the production are almost exclusively white. A number of apparently African-American actors fill in background roles, such as the band in the nightclub, but diversity is not well represented.
The main characters are:
- Murdoch, the main character
- His wife, Emma Murdoch
- Dr Daniel P Schreber, Murdoch’s psychiatrist
- Inspector Frank Blumstead
- Detective Eddie Walenski
- Karl Harris, Murdoch’s uncle
- May, a prostitute
- Mr Hand, Mr Book and Mr Sleep
Murdoch is played by British actor Rufus Sewell. Darkly handsome, he’s in his early 30’s with short curly black hair and sharp cheekbones. He has piercing hazel eyes, and often a brooding expression. When he’s naked we see he’s well muscled, and has dark chest hair. He wears a plain beige shirt, suspenders and grey trenchcoat, with the collar turned up.
- Emma Murdoch
Emma Murdoch, his wife, is played by American actor Jennifer Connolly. She’s late 20’s, with long, elegantly styled auburn hair. She has dark eyebrows and green eyes. There is a small "beauty-mark" above her lip on the left. She wears a variety of elegant outfits: In the nightclub she wears a glittering green gown held by spagehetti straps, rippled at the top and gathered into tight folds at the waist; at home she wears an elegant white bathrobe decorated with subtle embroidered flowers; in Inspector Blumsteads Office she wears a moss-green long sleeved two piece skirt suit.
- Dr Daniel P Schreber
Dr Daniel P Schreber is played by American actor, Keiffer Sutherland. He has centre-parted blond hair, cut short at the back-and-sides. He has blue eyes and peers at the world through small, wire-rimmed spectacles. He walks with an awkward, loping gait suggesting a leg or hip injury; the lid of his right eye droops prominantly, and he has a sharp, cupids bow to his lip. Outside, he wears a dark trilby and a heavy brown overcoat textured something like otter-skin. In his office he wears a clinical, white garment with high collar, belted, and buttoned down the right hand side. In the subterranean laboratory of the Strangers he wears an apron over a shirt, bow-tie and waistcoat.
- Inspector Frank Blumstead
Inspector Frank Blumstead is played by American actor, William Hurt. He’s a tall man in his late 40s. He has a high forehead and thin, sandy, receeding hair, a lined face and a cleft chin. At most times he wears a suit and fedore. He has a gold signet ring on left little finger and occasionally wears anachronistic rimless half-moon spectacles.
- Detective Eddie Walenski
Detective Eddie Walenski is played by Scottish-born Australian actor Colin Friels. He’s mid forties, with short, tousled brown hair and sharply arched eyebrows. He’s unshaved, and his face streaked with grime, but his eyes are startling piercing blue. He wears a frayed, threadbare unbuttoned waistcoat over an unwashed white shirt, sleeves rolled to the elbows, and grey pants that are too large for him. He appears animated, manic and exasperated.
May is played by Australian actor Melissa George. She’s in her early 20s, with long blonde hair that falls in loose curls. She carries herself confidently and has an easy, knowing smile. She has long red painted nails, and wears high heel shoes, a knee length dark red skirt, and an elaborate embroidered velvet shawl in tones of plum and muted blue. When she is undressed her clear skin is honey and cream coloured in the low light. She is slim, with small breasts with pointed nipples, and she has a coloured tattoo of a rose on her right shoulder
- Karl Harris
Karl Harris is played by Polish-born Australian actor John Bluthal. He’s in his late 60s, with untidy thin white hair, a broad face, and unshaven in a way that suggests he’s not taking care of himself. He wears white cotton pyjamas with thin green stripes over a white vest. He uses an antique wooden wheelchair with a woven cane back. Young Karl is played by Anthony Pace, a young stocky man with a thatch of dark curls wearing a brown jacket, smoking a cigar.
- The Strangers
The Strangers are all similar in appearance, generally tall and thin, with no skin showing other than their bald heads. Their skin is pale and white with no colour to their lips. Most of them have visible head injuries, showing scars or fissures of old wounds. When moving around the City they wear black fedoras or bowler hats, black leather gloves, and heavy black coats. When among their own kind, they wear black leather garments, made up of layers of complex organic shapes and straps and buckles. They have high, priest like collars laced at the throat.
- Mr Hand
Mr Hand, one of the strangers, is played by British actor Richard O’Brian. He is young and often affects an expression of superiority, boredom, and arrogance. He has blue eyes, a pointed nose, and his lip curls into a sneer. He wears a coat distinguished by a heavy, furred collar and lapels.
- Mr Book
Mr Book, the leader of the Strangers, is played by British actor Ian Richardson. Mr Book has intense grey-blue eyes, the sagging skin of an elderly man, and a doleful expression, but with a commanding, yet weary manner. He has a Y-shaped fissure in his cranium above the right eye. He alone of the Strangers requires a walking stick.
- Mr Sleep
Mr Sleep is, unique among the strangers, a child of about 6 years old, with a bowler hat and sharpened teeth. Mr Sleep is protrayed by twins Satya Gumbert and Noah Gumbert.
The film is set in an unnamed city, entirely at night time, apparently in the 1940s or 1950s, though there are many anachronisms.
The City lacks any distinctive buildings such as the Sydney Opera House, or the Empire State Building. There are no parks in the city, no trees, nothing natural at all. The strees are poorly lit, shiny with water, and often there is steam rising from grates. It is almost like the deam of a city, endless and inhuman.
The elevated railways of the City are busy with trains. The streams of cars along the roads and highways are a variety of makes and models ranging from 1940 to 1978, but overwhelmingly 1960s models of American cars, including Chevrolets, Chryslers and Fords. They are generally wide cars with shiny chrome fenders and small, wide-set headlights.
The clothes and hair styles also have a 1940s feel. The men in the film wear old style suits and ties, and there is a far greater percentage of people wearing hats, especially fedoras. Although anachronisms such as hoodies are also present
Absent from the city are distinct recognisable brands and advertisting. There are a few neon signs, but illuminated signage is commonly distinguished by a border of lightbulbs. Signage and other reading materials are generally done in the style of the 1940s with large, elaborate lettering and employing artwork for illustration rather than photography.
The interiors, like the rest of the city, are generally gloomy and poorly lit, and very much in the style of the 40s.
Detective Walenski’s Office
Detective Walenski’s Office, used by Inspector Blumstead, is outfitted in dark wood and frosted glass, the walls painted a dark green. The desk and in-trays on it are also made of dark wood. There is a desk light shaped like a green metal bowl; on the desk is a carousel of pad-inked stamps and a black Bakelite telephone with a rotary dial. There is a black chalk board against one wall.
Uncle Karl lives in "Neptunes Kingdom", the name picked out in light-bulbs above the entrance -- the open mouth of a scowling Neptune with soft green glowing eyes. A moribund tourist attraction, it has gloomy corridors with fish tanks set at various heights into walls painted with wavy sea-weed. Taxidermy sharks, rays and large fish hang from the walls, along with a set of shark jaws and a sawfish rostrum. Karl lives upstairs which is similarly furnished, including a larger room decorated with fish, several model ships and a wide bookcase.
The Strangers Lair
The Strangers subterranean lair is a vast, cavernous space, consisting of metal walkways with irregular, spindly hand-rails, and rows of galleries where the Strangers stand. It is coldly lit in blue and green. The central feature is an enormous sculpture of a face, classical, imposing, angular and blank-eyed. Beneath is a platform that Mr Book stands on during their ceremonies. The face divides in half and opens outwards to reveal a giant clock-face in broken stained glass.
Dr Schreber uses syringes that resemble antique medical implements. Made of a bronze metal, they have two rings for the ring and middle fingers, and a ring for the thumb to push the plunger. The pearly glass barrel is protected by metal wings, like seed pod casings. When active, the wings extend sideways at an angle. There is a micro-mechanism that drives the needle forward when the plunger is depressed. Dr Schreber stores the syringes in special moulded compartments in his leather Gladstone doctors’ bag which opens at the top into two equal halves.
The microphone that Emma sings into in the club resembles a vintage, Shure Brothers microphone made of chrome steel.
Inspector Blumstead plays a vintage Scandalli mother-of-pearl piano accordion with an ergonomic curved keyboard. It has elaborate art-nouveau decorations and an oval plaque that reads in script: "Dear Frank, Love Mom".
There is a radio in May’s apartment, and another in Blumsteads office. They are different models, but are both 1950s style, coloured plastic, with a large circular tuning dial on the right and a speaker on the left.
The Strangers carry knives with a mechanism that extends two smaller blades each side. The handles are bronze metal, inscribed with irregular wavy patterns.
This is an independent Audio Introduction and not commissioned by the copyright owners. I believe in cultural competancy, inclusion and equality, and have attempted to describe the characters and situations fairly, without prejudice and without intent to offend. All information in this introduction is believed to be correct at the time of writing, but the accuracy or correctness of this content cannot be guaranteed.
If you have any concerns about the content in this audio introduction, please contact me.
Copyright and Licencing
Dark City is © Copyright Dark City Productions Pty Limited. All Rights Reserved.
This audio introduction script copyright © Brett Coulstock.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Supplemental Information and References
- Internet Movie Database
- Internet Movie Cars Database
- Australian Film Classification